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Book Club Kits: Ashes

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions. Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushed her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom — a young soldier — and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP. For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human..

Discussion Questions

  • What genre is this book? Apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, dystopian or some combination of the three?

  • What was your first impression of Alex?

  • Why is it so important to Alex to carry her parents’ ashes into Waucamaw Wilderness? Do you believe she was planning to kill herself there?

  • How does the EMP change Alex? Why doesn’t she change in the same way that most teens change?

  • Why does Alex assume responsibility for Ellie? Wouldn’t it have been easier to leave her behind?

  • Why doesn’t Alex go ahead and scatter her parents’ ashes rather than carrying them in her pack after the EMP?

  • Why was Tom in the woods the day of the EMP? Did the EMP change him in any way?

  • What role does science play in the story? Did you think there was too much emphasis on science?

  • Why do Tom and Alex decide to leave the relative safety of the ranger station?

  • Brett, Harlan and Marjorie decide to take Ellie and Mina, but they leave Tom and Alex behind. Why?

  • How does Alex get into Rule? Why does she decide to stay?

  • After being alone or in a small group for such a long time, is it difficult for Alex to blend in to the community in Rule? How does she do it?

  • Do you think that Rule changed drastically after the EMP?

  • Who are the awakened? What is the difference between the awakened and the spared?

  • Why do the teens in Rule, particularly the girls, go along with the rules and policies of the Council of Five?

  • What is the purpose of the patrols that Chris and Peter lead outside of Rule?

  • Were you surprised when Alex started to fall for Chris? Do you think she was really having feelings for him, or was there something more sinister at work?

  • Were you surprised to learn the big secret of Rule?

  • Did you like the first half of the book better, or the second?

  • Will you read the next book? Why or why not?