Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review: Ashes by Estevan Vega

SUMMARY: More than three months have passed since Arson and Emery were taken. Taken and then separated.

And experimented on.

Salvation Asylum is more like a prison than a psychiatric facility. Unknowingly, Arson has become a vital instrument in a campaign set to genetically alter mankind. Enraged, confused, trapped, and unable to fully manifest his abilities, he wonders if he will ever see Emery again. His new existence is one crawling with questions. Is Grandma alive? Where does the fire come from? Can he become more than a monster?

In Ashes, book two of the ARSON series, nightmare and reality collide as Arson must embrace what he is and the haunting realization that there may be others out there, others like him.


The Short Version:
Creepy, dark and shocking, Ashes is a fantastic and twisted follow up to an already stunning book. Strengthening the characters met in the first book, and introducing new and well defined characters, this one blends the character and plot aspects strongly. With continued elegant and flowing writing, though an admittedly abrupt ending, Ashes keeps the momentum going and doesn’t let go.

The Extended Version:
Arson is, in many ways, similar to the boy met in the first book, though the effects of everything reflect back on him clearly. Despite this, he still goes through tremendous continued character growth, being tested in new ways, some of which are almost unimaginable. Fiercely loyal but also easily resigned to things, Arson’s character continues to be an internal more than external one. With a growing discontent, however, the boy who makes calculated decisions more often than not is quickly turning into someone more rash, something that is both heartbreaking and invigorating.

Separated at the start of the book, the reader gets a much better look at Emery this time around, seeing not only more of her personality, but her flaws as well. With a huge internal strength, she is able to take what’s thrown at her with as much grace as she can manage, and faces everything head one. Though she definitely makes a few mistakes along the way, Emery goes through just as much if not more change and growth as Arson.

Bringing back some of the characters from the first book, and introducing some new and intriguing new ones, Vega’s characters continue to be engaging and leave a mark on readers. Well developed and serving clear purposes throughout, the characters of this book are as memorable as the story itself. Characters both honest and sinister make appearances throughout this book, leaving the reader to often wonder what’s really going on, and who to trust.

Pulling in some strong experimental and science aspects, yet keeping the story clearly something entirely his own, Vega’s plot is completely twisted and bordering on the demented in all the best ways. Shifting in focus between Arson and Emery, but pulling in other characters as needed, there is a constant undertone of foreboding and discontent throughout. Though the ending feels admittedly abrupt, leaving the reader with plenty of questions that don’t always feel warranted, this one is still well paced and well scripted. With some unexpected and shocking twists, and a brilliantly built bigger picture, Ashes goes much darker and more psychological, keeping readers stunned and engaged the whole way.

Vega’s writing is, if possible, even more delectable, with some gorgeous and apt descriptions and a constant emotional air built into every page. Hitting deep into the minds of even the side characters, and luring the reader into the book without going overboard, the prose is again one of the most enjoyable and notable aspects of the book.

Zooming out and looking at the bigger picture this time around rather than focusing as intently on Arson and Emery, Vega builds not only his characters but his world in new and stunning ways. Sinister and disturbing, there are plenty of gutting and unexpected moments throughout this one. Definitely hitting on some dark areas, and unflinching in the face of them, Ashes is truly a nightmare brought to life.

Source: Ebook received from author in exchange for an honest review


  1. I haven't heard of this book before, but I'm definitely intrigued. It sounds like something I would really like. Great review! And thanks for bringing it to my attention. :)

  2. You know, I got this book and the first a month ago and I keep putting it off but wow it sounds like a great series I should really get into it soon. Thanks for the great review!

    Xpresso Reads

  3. Kari! You are awesome. Stoked you liked it and thanks so much for having me on here!


  4. Wow. This sounds like an Amazing read. I haven't come across this series or this author before, but I definitely think I'm going to have to rectify that situation asap.

    Thanks so much for the awesome rec!