Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Source: Tanglewood/Netgalley – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation.
Publisher: Tanglewood
Edition: Egalley, 466 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 5/5

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.

If I were to try to describe this in five words I think I would choose: Emotional, real, scary, fantastic, and gripping. And even then I don’t think that sums it up well enough to be satisfied. I pretty much love it, I love it the way a mother loves her child…okay maybe not that much because I can’t see myself carry this around for 9 months and then having it near me for the next 18 years (though hopefully it will be on my shelf for as long as possible). But I do love it, just not in any way that someone other then a book lover can understand. Okay…now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, or at least down to a manageable level I’ll try to talk about the book without assaulting your eyes with my professions of love and book PDA.

First off I’m am so pleased to  have a guy main character! So refreshing! I may be a female but I can honestly say that sometimes I just get tired of reading about woman, and I usually end up more frustrated with females then males.  Alex is great. He’s not a Bear Grylles in disguise kind of guy, nor is he overly sheltered nerd who is going to end up whining most of the time. He’s normal by majority of society’s standards and more importantly,  he’s relate-able. He’s a pretty easy guy to understand and he doesn’t constantly bash you over the head with his enormous grief about one thing or another. Which is something I think that Mullin did an excellent job with. There are so many things that happen in this book that would tear a person down and if perhaps some other author had been writing this you would have heard about how terrible each instance was until you no longer cared, but Mullin did it perfectly. Given the overall situation he added in the believable amount of emotions without going overboard and smothering you with them, and you can easily believe and see how the character deals with it over time without being told constantly. Darla is also a fantastic character and the perfect…unperfect…match for Alex. In most situations those two would probably have past each other with maybe a glance or smile, and they had very little in common before the volcano. But the way the two came together, how they got to know each other, and how they stick together is something that easy to see in your mind and easy to believe.

The main plot is where this book leaves me with staring at the keyboard trying to put my thoughts into words. While we may never, and hopefully never will, see this event come to pass it is something that can become a reality without too much thought on the hows and whys. The supervolcano under Yellowstone is real, and it’s something that I personally have found unnerving since I learned what it truly was and the power it holds. With in the first few chapters, pages even, I could tell the amount of research and knowledge that went into this book was enormous. And yet again Mullin handles all the details, big and small, with perfection. He doesn’t try to spell out every little thing and he doesn’t explain things in such a way that it leaves you scrambling for a dictionary. The gritty and sometimes delicate issues dealt with in the book range from simple need of female products to nearly all the atrocities that humans are capable of in the name of survival. It’s not overly sensitive by spoon feeding you each thing and it doesn’t spell out every gory little detail, but it’s described in a way that you understand it all. At points I was practically cringing, or wide-eyed with shock…other moments I had a smile on my face. I think that all of this has a lot to do with the fact that it is written in Alex’s voice, he tells you what he saw and what he felt. So you get that personal feel for what’s happening and by the time I was finished I had already made a checklist for my emergency kits.

So the big question is, would I recommend this book? To which I promptly answer with a semi high pitched sequel of yes! It’s certainly not something to give or read to the younger ones but anyone in high school is well acquainted with a good deal of the subjects so this will be fine, if not perfect. I can’t wait for the next one to come out as I’m really curious to know what’s going to happen and how they deal with a volcanic winter.

5 stars

This entry was posted in Book Reviews (2011) and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

  1. this looks very good and i too think it’s great to see a male lead. Have you read the Passage? 5 coffee cup rating from me.

  2. Pingback: Best Reads of 2011 | In Libris Veritas

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