This book was addictive! When I started reading, it was night and I was home alone. Reading the part when Alex and Ellie are trekking through the woods when gun shots are heard and then they see the teenage kids eating a woman, well, I didn't sleep well that night!! But gee, it was fantastic.Alex is a teenager that has run away, she is just 15 years old. Alex was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and decided she needed time to sort out her options. She was diagnose two years earlier and had been having treatment, but nothing worked. She hiked up a mountain in the Waucamaw Wilderness and a few days later a couple of visitors arrived. An elderly man, Jack and his Grand-daughter, Ellie (who is 8 years old) arrived with their dog Mina. Ellie wasn't really impressed with Alex and didn't really want to stay, but Jack wanted a coffee and to shared their Krispy Kreme's. A few moments later Jack was having a heart attack and Alex thought her head was going to explode. Ellie had taken off down the trail to cool off and didn't know what was happening on top of the mountain.Alex's head cleared, Jack had died with blood coming out of his head and Mina was also bleeding. Mina became very protective of Jack's body while Ellie stumbled back up and she started to go into shock. Nobody knew what was going on, but Alex decided it was best to pack up camp and head down to the Ranger's Station. Ellie was fighting the idea, didn't want to leave Jack, but there was no alternative. Alex headed off without Ellie, knowing she would follow eventually. They reached the bottom of the mountain and headed to the camp ground for an overnight stay. They heard noise, saw a couple of teenagers sitting around eating. Then they realised what they were eating. Alex and Ellie took off like a rocket, still not knowing what in the world was going on.They had gotten away from those kids and set up camp for the night. Heading for water the next day, Ellie was fishing for something to eat. A bunch of wild dogs came upon the girls and decided they wanted lunch. Alex was trying to ward them off when a man stumbled out of the woods, grabbed one of the dogs and he then proceeded to eat it... yummo! After munching on the dog, he thought the girls looked tastier. With a bang another man came along and shot the CHANGED man. The other man was Tom!The three decided to keep to the plan and head for the Ranger's Station. It was empty of people (all sorts), but fully stocked with food, weapons and beds. They stayed there a while trying to work out what to do. Tom was listed in the Army in explosives and told the girls he thought it was an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) or several that were detonated.They made a plan to head to Canada. There was an old truck in the shed and they found plenty of weapons and food to take along as well. They headed out early one morning, following the old country roads to keep out of sight. They had also been told about a town that was taking in refugees and that was their second option.There are some very exciting adventures that Alex partakes in following their departure from the Ranger's Station. I don't want to ruin the excitement, so will just say that Alex gets torn between two boys and has a strange affinity towards dogs.My opinion: I rated it 5 stars. Wow, it ends in such a cliffhanger and now I want to read the next one, Shadows (Ashes #2), due out next year.I loved that Alex was self sufficient, knew how to live off the land and protect herself. She had the courage to do what was necessary and not think about her own needs in the process.This was a fantastic read, I loved all the details, although some were gruesome. The thing is this could actually happen in today's society, well except for the zombie part. We rely on technology so much that I couldn't imagine being without electricity or plumbing for that matter. Ilsa has a great method of writing and it was very easy to read. Looking forward to the next one.