Review: Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin

Source: Tanglewood/Netgalley – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation.
Publisher: Tanglewood
Edition: Egalley, 576 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

If someone asked me to recommend a ‘post apocalyptic’ series I would definitely have to go with the Ashfall trilogy. The third book isn’t even out yet but this is already one of the best in that genre I’ve read. It has everything I want from a post apocalyptic story and more. When I read about the aftermath of a catastrophic event I want to feel that terror and the anguish that comes with loosing everything you knew. I realize that’s a bit morbid, but it’s a vital part of the story and if you don’t feel it then the story didn’t impact you the way it should. I also want to feel the hope that comes with trying to start over and trying to better your life, and furthermore I want to feel that connection the characters have with each other. Mike Mullin does that perfectly with Ashfall and Ashen Winter, he makes you truly feel the story that’s in front of you.

Ashen Winter starts off quickly and gets you right back into the action, it also quickly let’s you know that this story isn’t going to be an easy ride for Alex and Darla. It also keeps it’s pace throughout the whole story with very few slow moments because there is always a reason to keep moving forward and to keep turning the pages, be it a good reason or a bad one. It’s just a gritty and emotional as the first book, and it really had me hanging on to every word. I was practically Alex’s cheerleader, even for the smallest things that he accomplished and if he ever failed it left me feeling a bit defeated as well. This one is about cherishing relationships just as much as it is about survival, because sometimes the two become so intermingled that it’s nearly impossible to separate the two.

Alex and Darla are still the perfect team, with strengths and weaknesses that compliment each other. I love how strong of a character Darla is and how different she is from other female YA characters. She does what she needs to do to survive and she’s not afraid to put herself on the line if something or someone needs to be protected. Though she does end up being a bit too cautious at times and that’s where Alex comes in. He’s a brave but he’s also the one that sees the emotional aspect everything occurring, and it leads him to some rash actions. If he sees someone else in need he’ll do what he can to help them even if it’s not in his best interest, Darla keeps him from going overboard. They balance each other perfectly. You also finally get to meet Alex’s parents, which was both a relief and an irritation. It’s long been noted that I tend to hate parents in YA fiction, and his parents are really no exception. That being said I understand exactly where they are coming from when it comes to being over protective, I just don’t like when parents overlook their child’s strengths because they still see them as vulnerable. We are also introduced to Alyssa and Ben, who are brother and sister and quite the odd pair.

So what’s the final verdict on Ashen Winter? If you’ve read Ashfall and loved it, then I think both know you need to read this. If you haven’t read Ashfall then I completely recommend that you do. Of course if you can’t handle things like: cannibals, detailed injuries, and some violence…then it’s probably best you don’t read it or if you do just be ready for it. I have no choice now but to wait for the third book, though I’ll be rather impatient about it.

4 stars

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