TITLE Ashen Winter (Ashfall #2)
AUTHOR Mike Mullin
PUBLICATION October 16th 2012 by Tanglewood Press
READ September 20 - 22, 2012
SOURCE Tanglewood Press
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.The timing for me to read this book really was not optimal at all. I was trying to sneak in some ME books in between the review books and ended up getting myself a little behind in my schedule. I was so scared that feeling a bit rushed would affect my take on Ashen Winter, it being almost 600 pages and all. But I needn't worry, that was the breeziest 570 pages I have ever read. Now people, I have the attention span of a fruit fly, I get bored of really long stories and tend to zone out over excessive details. That was never the case with this story. Mike Mullin sucked me into Alex and Darla's journey once again and I was along for the rollercoaster of a ride every single, grueling, freezing step of the way.
What really gets me in this series is that it is all just so plausible. Mike Mullin said in the author's note that there is a lot of speculation as to "the severity of the winter that would follow a supervolcano eruption" and that "as a novelist (he's), chosen to depict the most severe- and dramatic- possibility." Every single aspect of this journey makes you feel as if you are there trudging through the snow and volcanic ash that is coating the state. Everything, down to the smallest detail just feels REAL. The food these people are forced to eat, the solutions that they concoct to get themselves out of jams is all perfectly believable. Even the action sequences (which have definitely stepped up a notch in this one) are written with such suspense that I found myself holding my breath every time Alex found himself in a new trying situation.
But what really keeps me in the end is the characters. I can now say that this series has one of my most favorite female kick-ass characters ever. Darla is my hero. I love her snarkiness and her resourcefulness, her and Alex have developed this awesome healthy relationship despite everything working against them and it has totally got me rooting for them. There was a few funny instances in this one where they talk about how they are shocked that the other hadn't watched certain stuff on TV before the eruption. While Alex is shocked Darla hadn't watched Woody Woodpecker, Darla is dumbfounded that Alex hadn't watched any snow mobile races. Little instances like that are perfectly placed in the novel and create some of the most wonderful characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading.
Of course, this story is not just about Alex and Darla, there is a whole host of side characters that come and go throughout the novel that I am coming to love too. Rita Mae, the librarian in Worthington, is someone I am always excited to encounter. Also Alex's uncle and sister and of course Dr. McCarthy in Warren. I don't even know how to express how much I love this series. You get lost in every single page and come to love the characters dearly. Mike Mullin has solidified himself as an author that I will constantly be on the lookout for because his writing is perfectly entrancing.
The Ashfall Series so far...
Mike Mullin’s first job was scraping the gum off the undersides of desks at his high school. From there, things went steadily downhill. He almost got fired by the owner of a bookstore due to his poor taste in earrings. He worked at a place that showed slides of poopy diapers during lunch (it did cut down on the cafeteria budget). The hazing process at the next company included eating live termites raised by the resident entomologist (they taste like a cross between walnuts and carrots), so that didn’t last long either. For a while Mike juggled bottles at a wine shop, sometimes to disastrous effect. Oh, and then there was the job where swarms of wasps occasionally tried to chase him off ladders. So he’s really hoping this writing thing works out.