Ashley’s Apocalypse by Jordin Gardner

‘Ashley’s Apocalypse’ is a 102 page novella concerning the trials and tribulations of the titular protagonist, her friends, and her family in the wake of a possibly government-induced zombie apocalypse. Fans of AMC’s hit show ‘The Walking Dead’ will feel right at home with this quick read, albeit ‘Ashley’s Apocalypse’ is much less concerned with the blood-and-guts atmosphere of such an event than the disintegration of Ashley’s notions of who she is and what she can believe in. When the book opens, Ashley is an intelligent, quirky high school student with a loving set of parents and sisters and one sister-like female best friend, Alex. As the novella progresses, Ashley’s experiences whittle away her pre-catastrophe identity until she must be saved from a suicide attempt by the story’s male hero, Paul.

The story of ‘Ashley’s Apocalypse’ is nothing new. A coming-of-age tale set in an apocalyptic event has been done many times before. However, the tale of two sisters being torn apart, changing, and reuniting adds an interesting flavor to the plot. The males in the story can only represent the best and worst of masculinity; not just in a zombie-infested wasteland, but in any heterosexual relationship. There are some parts in the story where more extrapolation is needed, not necessarily for gore’s sake in the zombie violence scenes (although that wouldn’t be unwelcome, either), but characters change at the drop of a hat. It takes two pages total for Ashley to lose her rock-solid faith in God and get it back. That scene alone could have taken up much more space. This lack of descriptive imagery and the hesitance to dive into a character’s brain for at least a few pages takes weight away from events in these characters’ lives that should be monumental, earth-shattering, life-changing things end up feeling a bit more shallow than they should. Overall, there’s a lot that could be done with this story, as the narrative has a lot of potential. The book could easily be 250 pages, and I’d love to read elaborations on all the great scenes that the author has cooked up. ‘Ashley’s Apocalypse’ is a quick and engaging read for Christian teens, but could’ve been much more.