Author: Mike Mullin site
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
“Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.
Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
How it starts:
Alex is just your ordinary, geeky, brooding teenager. Until one day, the same day his family leaves for their Uncle’s in Warren, Illinois, a super volcano erupts at Yellow Stone. The eruption is so powerful that even though the volcano is in Wyoming, a piece of it sets Alex’s house on fire all the way in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Though he stays with neighbors for a short time, Alex must eventually venture out on his own into the ashfall on a mission to get to his family.
Alex, the protagonist, is definitely a likeable character. For one, he has a black belt, so he’s totally kick ass. Secondly, he has a very strong moral compass. And through all the bad things that happen to him, he still tries to help others whenever possible.
Darla was also pretty likable. Although she isn’t the main character, she’s usually the one who knows what to do. From information of mechanics to other survival skills, she was certainly the most knowledgeable character. And thank goodness she’s no weakling. I just hate it when female characters are the ones that cower in the corner, and then need their man to the job. It was a nice change of pace to see this role reversal.
As for villains, there are many of them. Throughout their journey, there isn’t really just one person who’s bad deeds are most focused on. Except maybe for the ashfall itself. Mike Mullin certainly doesn’t skimp on obstacles for either Alex or Darla.
Whether it’s running from an escaped criminal, to just trying to survive from starvation or the ash-induced winter, there really isn’t ever a boring moment in Ashfall. There were times my own pulse was racing with excitement, and even a few tears shed. This book keeps up a steady pace. Not too fast, or too slow. There are is even a bit of philosophical questioning, including talk about religious faith. Though, if you don’t like book that include religion, don’t let that scare you away. It is only a smaller part of a great whole. I will say though that there are a few parts in the book that describe butchering animals. These parts are kind of graphic. They may be necessary to the story, but as a vegetarian, left me thoroughly gross out.
I really enjoyed Ashfall. It introduces an entirely new post-apocalyptic world I’ve never read about before. Not many people know this, but starting when I was six, I became very interested in volcanoes. I remember reading all kinds of books, and watching Eyewitness: Volcano a dozen times. This book really brought back a “blast from my blast” so to speak. I really enjoyed this one. It was a truly great read, and I’m looking forward to the sequel, Ashen Winter. I’m giving it 5/5 stars.