The Nature of Ash


WHEN YOU’RE A KID, you deal with the family you’ve got. Whether you live, well that’s up to you.

In the spirit of The Hunger Games, Ash McCarthy fights to survive in a world that’s on the brink of disaster…

Ash McCarthy thought he finally had it made: revelling in the freedom of student hostel life. But life is about to take a devastating turn, when two police officers knock on his door.  Their life-changing news forces him to return home, and impels him into a shady world of political intrigue, corruption, terrorism and lies . . . so many lies.
As if this isn’t bad enough, the whole country is imploding. While trying to protect his brother, along with strangers Travis and Jiao, his fight to uncover the truth turns into a nightmare race to save their lives.
The Nature of Ash is a fast-paced thriller that explores love and loss, assumptions and prejudices, truth and fiction, and the many faces of ‘family’.

Published by Random House NZ in June 2012, The Nature of Ash was shortlisted for the 2103 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards and won the YA section of the LIANZA Book Awards in 2013.

I’ve just written a blog about Ash’s mother Grace titled: The trouble with Grace: killing off the victim… and other problematic fictional mothers. Check it out in the archives!

Also check out this post in the archives: So what’s the story with all this violence and bad language?” which looks at questions about violence and swearing in my fiction
For an extract from ‘The Nature of Ash’ check out:

AUDIO: Review of The Nature of Ash from John MacIntyre of the Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie. Thanks John!

Here’s a wonderful review from Zac Harding over at My Best Friends are Books:

Mandy Hager has set a new standard in thrilling, action-packed stories for NZ teens with her new book, The Nature of Ash, and I’ll say it can proudly stand alongside these international, best-selling dystopian thrillers…
plus a great tweet from Zac: @zackids Ash, the main character in @MandyHager‘s new YA novel has to be most authentic male teen voice in NZ fiction. Absolutely spot on!

See answers to 5 questions about The Nature Of Ash over at the Bookcouncil website.

Bob’s Book Blog:  ‘Very powerful novel of a dystopian New Zealand in which many of the social, political, economic and family concerns of today’s world are extrapolated into the future…’

Check out a short but very sweet review from Beattie’s Book Blog:
It is not often you would describe a YA novel as a blockbuster but in this case it is totally appropriate.
From my Collins Internet-linked dictionary – Blockbuster – a very successful, effective of forceful person or thing.
This 364 page, totally gripping Wellington-set thriller has been getting rave reviews around the country and having now read the story myself I am not at all surprised. Action-packed, fast paced stuff that I read it two long sittings. Watch out for it in next year’s book awards.

Barbara Else, in her review in New Zealand Books (Autumn 2013, Vol 23, No 1, Issue 101) had this to say:
“Hager’s recent dystopian Blood of the Lamb trilogy edged her close to the cross-over audience. This new novel straddles any remaining divide with utmost confidence… The novel is best described as a political thriller… and it is deifntiely a page-turner, one of those novels that refuse to leave your hands. Political, economic and ecological issues sizzle in the action, dialogue and reactions of the characters. Just as often they lie in the chilling specific detail…. but the strength lies in Hager’s attention to how her characters feel. The heart of the book is Ash’s love for his less able brother. Mikey must be one of the most successful characters in recent local writing. he’s funny, heart-rending and, in this bleak view of the future, strangely brings a smile to the reader, a lift of the heart. In the end, the novel challenges the reader to think about politics and family in equal measure… The Nature of Ash is a novel very hard to forget.”
And here’s a great review from the NZ Booksellers website:

The Nature of Ash is a phenomenal book, which deserves the highest praise for its wonderful characters, unique voices and almost-unbearable suspense. With a fast pace that has you racing to reach the end, the tension and thrills of Mandy Hagers’s novel are sure to grip its’ readers.
‘You will be stunned by the sharp twists; this chilling roller-coaster read will have you on the edge of your seat. I highly recommend The Nature of Ash to older teens – adults, too- this is not a tale you will forget in a hurry.’  Reviewed by Tierney.