Ashfall by Mike MullinAshfall is a book I've been wanting to read for a while now... but with books like this, I'm a little weird and I have to be in the right mood/vibe to read like realistic apocalyptic type stuff. The reason being (and I've mentioned this before) is that I'm a
Ashfall # 1
Published: October 11th, 2011 by Tanglewood Press
Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying super-volcano, so large that the caldera can only be seen by plane or satellite. And by some scientific measurements, it could be overdue for an eruption.
For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone super-volcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to search for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.
The story begins with Alex, as his parents leave him alone for the first time for a whole week end as they make their way further south. Everything seems normal as Alex watches them drive away but it's not soon after that things go horribly wrong. I loved that the story starts a little before the actual erruption so we can be with Alex as everything starts happening. It's terrifying but I was thoroughly rivited as everything descends into chaos. At first Alex has no clue whatsoever what is going on. He later learns, while taking refuge with his neighbors that the Super-Volcano in Yellowstone has errupted. After a shocking first initial few days, Alex hauls up and sees his home town transformed as people descend into despair...and worse. In desperation & fear Alex embarks on a perilous journey to reunite with his family, against all odds.
Alex is a very relatable & endearing protagonist. His voice as he comes to terms with what has happened, and how quickly the rules of society that we all take for granted begin to crumble around him is both gripping & moving. It was SO refreshing to read a book with a male POV - especially one as complex and wholly likeable as Alex. He is well rounded, level headed and an all around fun character to get to know. The way he deals with such life-altering events made him all the more real for me. He really is forced to grow up in virtually an instant...and he finds himself up to the task. You can't help rooting for him & hoping he finds what he's looking for. I can really see young/teen boys LOVING this book, simply because of Alex and how real he feels throughout Ashfall. Being a girl, I can safely say that I couldn't get enough of him myself - he's definitely a memorable protagonist.
The world as we know it undergoes drastic changes after the eruption. Firstly, there is the ash - it's not called Ashfall without reason. Ash falls from the sky long after the eruption is over. And I mean a butt-load of ash: enough to completely cover the sun, the moon, the stars...and wreck havoc on the climate, weather patterns and ever the seasons. It feels like reading a story based on a completely different planet -everything is grey & ashen. Breathing becomes a hazard to your health and even that isn't the worst of Alex's problems. I was amazed by how author Mike Mullin injected all the elements one could imagine coming into play in a situation like this. It was never excessive or difficult for me to imagine. This all felt SO real!
There is never a dull moment - Alex is always facing adversity as he brave the unforgiving & unpredictable elements. It was chilling (and realistic I think) to see how quickly most people lost their humanity. People became savage, animals. With everyone consumed with fear & uncertainty, most of the rules we live by and take for granted on a daily basis were quickly replaced by madness, savagery & violence. Within all of that new-found primitiveness, Mike Mullin was able to weave in kindness & love in the most unexpected places. Not everyone becomes horrible. There are still good people...trying to survive.
Ashfall is a book that stays in your head. Even when you put it down, or try to sleep, or go about your daily life. And yes, even when it's over - I find myself thinking about it...remembering & above all wondering; what will happen next to Alex & Darla?? It's scary, but it a good way because it makes you think. It was fully absorbing & stirring from start to finish. If you're a fan of dystopian or post-apocalyptic reads and you haven't read Ashfall yet, what are you waiting for?!
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars