Publication date: 11 October 2011 by Tanglewood Press
ISBN 10/13: 0446574473 | 9780446574471
Category: Young Adult Science Fiction
Keywords: Science fiction, survival, natural disaster
Format: ebook, Hardcover
Alex is just a normal teenage boy living a normal life. He has an annoying younger sister and parents that he loves, but who also get on his nerves from time to time. His biggest concerns are homework and practicing for tae kwon do. But his life and everyone’s around him changes in an instant when a super volcano in Yellowstone National Park erupts, covering the land and sky in ash and changing the ecological landscape of the world forever. Now Alex must survive as he makes his way to find his family. Some of the people he encounters are kind, while others have much more sinister plans now that the world is in chaos.
Ashfall is one of those books that you want to read because you want to know what happens but also don’t want to read it for fear that something terrible is going to happen to the characters. Ashfall actually reminded me a little bit of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road though not as bleak and with less cannibalism. I’ve read a lot of dystopian and post apocalyptic novels lately. I liked that Ashfall was a little different in that it actually starts before the disaster. I think this actually makes Alex’s situation worse than other dystopian novels because 1) he has to survive the initial aftermath of the volcano eruption and 2) he clearly remembers what life was like Before. To me, Alex’s situation is much more relatable and I was right there with him wondering what the heck was going on when the roof crashed in on him.
Because Ashfall is based on actual science (yes, the super volcano exists!) it’s especially scary. Sure it’s unlikely that a volcano is going to erupt any time soon, but it could happen. I can also imagine a large earthquake, hurricane, tsunami having similar effects if large enough. And I know enough about people to believe that society would break down pretty quickly once food and water were scarce. There’s also some commentary on what the government would do in this type of situation which, while disconcerting, seemed believable.
It’s not all bad though. On his journey, Alex encounters many kind people. There are people who help him when they don’t have to. Alex would surely be dead if not for the help of many people and he tries pay it forward by helping when he can as well. I really liked Alex and my heart was in my throat every time he had to venture outside. I really didn’t want anything terrible to happen to him or Darla.
Speaking of Darla, she’s totally badass. I loved that she knew all kinds of things about mechanics and farming. She’s so unique - a totally strong and independent person who doesn’t even like Alex when she first meets him. I loved that she was so capable but still believable. As they learn to depend on each other for survival and more, Alex and Darla start to fall in love. I liked that it wasn’t an instant attraction and that Mullin didn’t shy away from the sex part of it. Yes, teens think about sex. Especially boys. But Alex and Darla tackled the subject practically and without drama, which was refreshing.
Ashfall is a story of will and survival. An intense and action packed drama filled with compelling characters, it will make you ask questions about yourself and the world we live in. Would I survive a major disaster like the one in Ashfall? Would society? I don’t know but I can’t wait to find out what happens to Alex in the sequel to Ashfall, Ashen Winter.
Visit the author online at www.mikemullinauthor.com and follow him on Twitter @Mike_Mullin