AUTHOR Mike Mullin
PUBLICATION October 10, 2011 by Tanglewood Press
READ June 30 - July 1, 2012
Ashfall is yet another title that came to me highly recommended by my fellow bloggers. I'll admit, that did make me very wary going into it, I thought for sure this would be another that would leave me thinking "everybody else loved it, WHAT DIDN'T I?" But those worries were completely unfounded, Ashfall is an amazing novel that is so well written you're left feeling like you have ash crammed in crevices where ash should never be. It is chalk full of impeccable world building and you truly care for the characters as if they were your own children.
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.
So what's so chilling about Ashfall? Well how about the fact that this can, and most likely, will happen sometime in the future. I'm not a scientist and I haven't done a lot of research into this matter but I have looked into it enough to know that it can happen. I'm not sure as to what length the devastation would go to, if it would be this extreme but it is still damn scary. Mike Mullin describes the devastation through Alex's eyes in such a real way, I felt like I was skiing on the ash and felt the onset of frostbite on my own fingers.
The characters in Ashfall are the real gem. Alex is a character who grows a lot throughout the novel and I felt that his progression was spot on. He starts out as an innocent World of Warcraft playing child and ends a man who has survived insurmountable feats. He falls for Darla, a country girl who is very intelligent, mechanically inclined and perfectly witty. I read that Mike Mullin likes to reverse gender roles and I loved that in this novel. Darla was much more handy when it came to survival instinct and making contraptions, I found that I really liked her and respected her. There are many secondary characters that Darla and Alex meet on their trek across Iowa and they all serve to achieve a different layer in our protagonist. Target (the escaped convict) progresses Alex's strength and Katie's mother shows his compassion, everything is twined together so well.
There are a lot of heavy, chilling scenes in this novel and it was, at times, hard to read. I was sickened by Target & his friend and I could probably now skin & gut a rabbit all on my own (would I? NO! but still..) This is a very well crafted post apocalyptic novel that conveys desperation extremely well. I will be anxiously awaiting Ashen Winter to see where Alex and Darla go from here!