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BOOK REVIEW: Ash: A Destined Novel by Shani Petroff

| 10 February 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Ash: A Destined Novel by Shani Petroff.

Polis Books
March 2015
Hardcover, £11.99
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli



“It is her Destiny Day, and Ash destinies have their function, too. After all, even the smallest destinies have some meaning.”

There are three categories for dystopia: the good, the bad and the ugly. The good come with brand new ideas, never heard of before, with exciting plots and realistic characters. The bad come with already-used ideas, maybe some plots that have been done before but with some twists, and characters that aren’t realistic but still easy to sympathise with. The ugly, on the other hand, are just terrible ideas executed terribly with even more terrible characters you’d rather hit than sympathise with.

Ash wasn’t quite ugly, but it was pretty bad. Although it had an innovative, well thought out plot, the characters (in particular, one character, Madden) let it down, the ending was predictable and its cliffhanger did nothing to deter from the fact that I’d called it on the first page. Come to think of it, most of the “plot twists” were easily seen before they happened, which made the story a little redundant.

Madden Sumner is a Purple. From the highest ‘ring’, she lives an elite, uncomplicated life and her destiny, much to everyone’s pleasure, is to become a Minister of the Seven — i.e. to become part of the government and to impose the laws of Destiny.

Dax Harris is an Ash, the lowest in her ring for she has no destiny — she is a Blank. Her brothers are Purple and, because of her status, her family must pay exorbitant taxes to maintain her. Her brothers and father love her, but her mother continuously reminds her that she is a pain and that one day she will have to go her own way and leave her family behind.

In this dystopia, the world is ruled by destinies. Extracted at birth, a person’s destiny dictates where they belong in society — at the top of the ladder or at the bottom — and everyone has one, no matter how mundane it may seem…

“You can’t support your own classmate in his tireless pursuit of destiny? Isn’t that the whole crux of our society? Our whole reason for living? What kind of person are you, anyway?”
“He does have a point,” Laira said, totally missing the glint in Sol’s eyes and the smile he was fighting to keep off of his face. “Klay’s destiny is to give water.”

… Or how laughable…

I patted Bas’s arms. “Give him a break. This is almost as big of a day for him as it is for Aldan. And you know he’ll do anything to make me smile.” He would, at that. Theron’s destiny was to make me laugh — or, if you wanted the specifics, to make the Minister of the Seven closest to his age laugh, which amounted to the same thing.

But there are people who don’t believe in the system. They think it’s corrupt. They think it’s time to end it. Some people want to revolt against the Ministry and some people want to make a statement.

“You know what the real joke is? Us. Every single one of us, sitting in the Box because someone decided our destinies were more important than the people down below. This system is broken.”

In an alarming twist of fate, Madden and Dax’s destinies collide and they are forced to question their own paths, their lives and their pasts. As the lies begin to unravel, the truth is almost impossible to believe.

If it weren’t for the fact that Madden was such an unlikeable character, I may have rated this higher. Unfortunately, with the way she used and abused the people below her social standing, the way she used the “everyone’s destinies matter” idea only to further her own agenda and the way she behaved when she was ‘found out’, my dislike for her became so deep that I couldn’t find any way to like her. She had many chances to redeem herself but blew each and every one by sneering at the Ashes and acting as if being someone in such a low ring was  the end of the world, and the way she treated Dax but adored her brother was infuriating — so the brother is good enough for you because he’s a Purple, but his sister (who is practically his best friend) isn’t? Lovely.

Another problem was the world-building. There was zero explanation as to how the world went from today’s society to being ruled by people’s destinies. The only history was about the “Event”, when one person deviated from their destiny and caused millions of deaths, but even that was skirted around. There were no descriptions for the technology they used or what they looked like: what’s a pexiglass? What does a wrist-tracker look like? What’s a loop racing track? It took me a while to figure out that “loop racing” was practically skateboarding with magnets, and it was annoying that this wasn’t explained before. We are only told these things exist but not why or how. 

Overall, I’d recommend Ash to people who want a quick, easy read.

(Ash is book 1 in the Destined series)

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

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