Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

November 17th, 2011 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Downloaded from NetGalley

Publication date: October 11, 2011

Publisher: Tanglewood Press

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from

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.

I have to preface this review by saying I almost put it down after reading the first few chapters.  The writing initially seemed like the author had a thesaurus lying beside him as he wrote and that he used it liberally.  Thankfully things got much better and then I could not stop reading.  I’m a huge fan of these post natural disaster stories as you may already realize if you read my review of Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (which if you have not read that series you have to go do that now!  It was even better than this one but I digress).  Somehow the tie to the present like this is a world I could potentially end up in if there were massive earthquakes, volcano eruptions, etc. that makes it that much more thrilling.  It also always brings to mind how do we think people would react in these types of situations?  Do they rise to become hero figures or do they become desperate figures who no longer feel the need to be constrained by basic moral principles?

After my post the other day about disliking many male teenage protagonists I was a little leery about Alex but he was so well written that I felt like I could totally relate to him and his reactions.  He is by no way perfect and level headed but really who is?  I think that just helps the reader identify all the more with him.  He is raised in a pretty suburban life style, content to play World of Warcraft, hang out with friends, etc and never really thinks he will ever have to be able to survive in the wilderness alone.  I couldn’t help but root for him to make it through especially after seeing how he reacted when push came to shove about helping others at the detriment to his own well being.

Darla was also an interesting character.  I had a harder time relating to her most likely because I am a city girl.  I have no clue if growing up on a farm the way she did she really would be able to do all the things she does.  That just made her a little surreal and held me back from truly embracing her character.  Still she plays a fascinating role in the story and I loved the interaction between her and Alex.

The story moved at a nice pace.  The action kept moving, the suspense was constant as you wondered who Alex could really trust.  I really wish the next book were already available because I am dying to know what is going to happen next and find out who is going to survive the entire series.

Posted in 4 Star Books, Books, Young Adult

5 Responses

  1. Bibliotropic

    I loved this book when I read it. I was quite impressed at the way the author didn’t shy away from showcasing the darker side of humanity in the story, the way people get opportunistic and cruel and selfish when disaster strikes, and yet still maintaining a message of hope through the whole thing. I think he strck a very fine balance there, and it showed well.

    Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Debbie's World of Books

    I totally agree. It’s kind of scary to think to the lows and depravations people could sink to and it is so realistic.

  3. Kailana

    It is good to know that if I decide to read this book and the beginning doesn’t start off good for me, I should stick with it.

  4. Michelle

    I’ve seen nothing but positive reviews on this one but for some reason I’ve just not been inclined to pick it up. Can’t quite put my finger on why.

  5. Debbie's World of Books

    Michelle-I know what you mean. It’s been on my list for ages and took me awhile to just pick it up and start it.

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