In my last review of book 4 in this series I suggested that it was impossible for all the major characters to hold up so long, often in such wildly impossible scenarios and that surely at least one of them should have died. Well…I guess I should play the lottery or something because it appears that if I ask for something, I get it. In this book, no major character was safe any longer; the stakes were much higher and it was clear that all of them are simply exhausted from fighting for survival for a full year. The Ashes of Pompeii follows two groups of survivors the ones left on the island, led by Lara and Will,Danny and Gaby who are attempted to avoid numerous ambushes to get back to the island to defend it against a known major attack.
In the previous book, Lara used the FEMA emergency signal to share the facts that the ghouls do not cross water, can be killed by silver bullets and UV light. She also invited other survivors to gather on Song Island to attempt to make a united stand against them. There are other pockets of survivors around the world and Kate, (one of the humans turned ghouls who is still sentient) is angry that this information is being deseminated. To her,it’s time to take out Song Island and to attempt to capture Will to make him one of the creatures. No one is quite sure why she’s so obsessed with Will,but while total world domination is the goal of this new race of creatures, she’s constantly plotting (book after book) ways in which to find and capture him. I know Will’s awesome and everything (totally my favorite character) but it seems odd that he’d really be THAT important in the grand scheme of things.
We’re introduced to a new character, a mercenary named Keo who questions why Lara and the others are so hell-bent on making a stand on the island. THANK YOU KEO! Since book two when they went to the island in the first place I thought it was kind of dumb to stay there. Throughout each book, the characters adopted the mantra, “Adapt or perish” and while the island does have major advantages, they are sitting ducks waiting to be picked off. And so this is one of the major decisions that Lara must make in the book. Should they make a stand on the island or take what supplies they have and move to unknown and still possibly dangerous scenario? While she’s admirably attempting to make the decision that will give them the best possible chance of survival, her boyfriend Will is making choices and sacrifices that benefit the good of the group attempting to get as many survivors and friends possible back to the island as they are being hunted by human troops working for the ghouls.
This book did everything I asked it to do. It was gritty, realistic and ultimately heartbreaking. This war has taken its toll on everyone, they are all injured and stressed to the very edge of their beings and they’re beginning to lose hope that they can indeed survive. In the previous books the characters held onto optimism,things COULD always be worse…now that is all gone. I’m not sure if book 6 is out yet but I have a revived interest in the series and the grim fate of all the characters. I can’t picture any scenario where this can end well,but I’ll gladly go down with the ship if these characters are involved.