Book Review

Review: Only Ashes Remain by Rebecca Schaffer

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Rating: 4 out of 5 hoots

Published: September 3 2019

Number of pages: 432

Format: advanced reading copy

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Genre: urban fantasy, horror, mystery, paranormal

Audience: young adult

Get it at: Chapters Indigo

Shelve it at: Goodreads

Summary:

Nita escaped her kidnappers and is running away from the black market. Now all she wants to do is live her life without having to look over her shoulder. But when the video of her self-healing herself comes out on the Internet, Nita becomes the target for the black market again. So to keep herself safe she makes herself be feared, that way no one will dare to come after her.

With Kovit back, her plans begin to backfire but Nita is sure that after she takes her revenge on Fabricio for betraying her, she is sure that her plan will work. But killing Fabricio is hard work even with Kovit and yet, Nita is determined to kill him at all costs.

My Review:

An advanced reading copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It was a year ago after I read Not Even Bones and I remember thinking how intense and thrilling it was to watch Nita’s character grow from a naive girl working inside her parent’s basement to a survivor who escaped from her kidnappers and destroyed the black market. She had help escaping from a zannie name Kovit. A zannie is an unnatural creature that has a hunger for pain to stay alive. Normally, it would be wise to stay away from a zannie but this particular one chose to stay with Nita after she was detained inside her cage. But now Nita is outside of her cage and has a thirst for revenge against the boy who started her kidnapping.

This sequel began where we left off with Nita in the safe hands of INHUP, meanwhile forming a plan of vengeance against the boy, Fabricio who betrayed her in the last book. Apparently vengeance is a trait that runs deep in her family as we learn a little bit more about her mother’s motives against Fabricio’s family, but there is still a whole lot of mystery in her past as to what started the rife between the families. Her mother makes another appearance but only to save Nita from tight situations like being questioned by the police, other then that she is still the controlling, manipulative mother who insists that Nita needs her to protect her because she doesn’t know how. But what her mother doesn’t know is that she just gave Nita an opportunity to prove her mother wrong.

Nita’s character really develops in this story as she learns how to be off on her own in a city she has never been, with no cash, no home, and no parents to help her. Furthermore, we see a deeper side of Nita as she tries to figure out who she is and what kind of person she wants to be. In the first book, Nita explains that she always wanted to be a normal girl, go to college, and do a presentation about unnatural creatures at a conference. But with the black market behind her back can Nita return to that life? Nita wants to be a normal girl but she soon realizes that going back to that life isn’t going to be easy not after the events she has been through. And even if it were, the weight of the people she killed to survive will stay in her conscious. As she draws closer to her vengeance, Nita becomes more violent, bloodthirsty and there are times when she enjoys watching people fear her. In these moments, she asks herself: is she turning into her mother? Or is she turning into a monster? This not only affects her personally but also her relationship with Kovit changes as well.

What started as an unexpected friendship turns into a complicated relationship as they try and find common ground between them. But Nita has a hard time understanding Kovit as a person and not just another zannie. The most recent development in their relationship is when for one brief moment they both shared a kiss which I kind of suspected would happen as this is a YA book after all, so I had a feeling there would be romance. It was interesting to see how Nita and Kovit worked together to overcome all sorts of obstacles as they were trying to hide from INHUP and the black market. It’s also a nice change of pace as Kovit’s past is slowly revealed and comes back to haunt him for a short period of time.

This sequel plays with themes of humanity, morality, and what is means to be human. In the first book, Nita promise to kill only if she has to. But that line she draws for herself is blurred as she realizes the only way to survive is to hunt or be hunted. Afterwards Nita starts to really question her moral compass. The character development in this story is one of the reasons why I enjoyed this so much. Just watching Nita and Kovit growing out of their comfort zones and getting to know each other more were the most the readable moments in this book, and I am already excited to see how the series ends. Will Nita get her revenge? Will she find out who is behind the events at INHUP? Will she and Kovit make this out alive? I will have to wait until next year to find out.

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