Book Review: Rise From the Ashes Part One: Lena’s Story



I was sent this book from the author for review.  I am a huge fan of post-apocalypse tales, so I was eager to jump into this one. Here is the synopsis: The Taliban have bombed the US with a chemical agent. It wiped out over half of the population and left the country in shambles. Those who are left find unexplained things happening like premonitions in their dreams and enhanced senses. Lena, a young woman from Vermont, and Mick, a young man in the US Army, grow close and become leaders as they trudge north to meet up with a military camp at Lake Champlain. Their dreams continue to get more peculiar and have even synced up in a historical setting. With the power out and gasoline a scarce resource; motorcycles, horses and bicycles have become the new mode of transport. In another group that is trying to survive, a priest leads discouraged parishioners north and is faced with tough decisions as he has to put the well-being of the group ahead of individuals. They have to band together to make it through this new chaotic situation, relying on their intuition and basic survival skills. This motley crew must reorganize the country just as was done after the revolutionary war. The clock is ticking as the persisting threats of the Taliban, drug lords from south of the border and rival gangs across the country put US freedoms in jeopardy. Unlike many books in this genre, the author uses something that is very real in this world, the threat of terrorists from the Middle East.  Instead of imagining some enemy, she draws on reality to provide the basic backdrop for the action. And that is where the similarities end. I might be arrogant when I say this, but I really don’t feel that the Taliban would have the resources to pull off such a wide spread attack across the globe.  Their biggest hit to date (with Al Queda) was 9/11, and that was over a decade ago. When I read stories like this that use realistic elements, my mind immediately goes to the probability of such an action.  I have explained this before in my review of “Zomblog”, how the author just bypassed this step for me altogether and took my analytic brain out of the equation and allowed me to just read the story and not compare it to real life. This author removes that when she bases the apocalypse in reality. The story itself is interesting with people from different segments of society banding together for the common.  The characters are strong and memorable. For the YA audience, this would include the relationship between Mick and Lena. I love their relationship and the way they treat each other.  Apparently they are connected in a past life, which completely came out of left field.  But the way their story is woven throughout the book is unique. There is some confusion with more minor characters.  I understand what the author was trying to do by linking the actions of different groups of people in the same area, but it wasn’t as clear as it could have been. I also do not feel that the issues of “superpowers” and similar dreams were fully explained.  It is intriguing, especially with the element that links them all, but it was very vague. I did like reading about the ways they try to rebuild society, and I look forward to reading more about the story of Mick and Lena in the future.  I just feel the story idea could have been executed in a better way.

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