Series: Ashfall #2
Published by: Tanglewood Press on October 16, 2012
Genre: Adventure, Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Survival
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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.
Right off the bat, it’s obvious that I’m not rating Ashen Winter as high as Ashfall. Ashen Winter was a fascinating story that once again really dives into disaster and humanity (or lack thereof), but at the end of the day, I don’t feel like the book was much different from Ashfall.
In Ashfall we have Alex trekking across the country to find his family. There’s devastation, brutality, gangs, and strange “refugee” camps. In Ashen Winter we have Alex trekking across the country to find his family. There’s devastation, brutality, gangs, and strange “refugee” camps. I hope you noticed the repetition there. 😛 Although it was still an interesting book, I just don’t feel like Ashen Winter brought much new content to the table. I didn’t really learn any more about how the weather is doing or what’s going on with the government. We do learn a bit more about the gangs and see them in more detail, but those are really just interesting filler bits. Ashen Winter lacks a strong, overarching plot progression.
Furthermore, I felt like in some ways, the book was a little anti-climactic. It’s hard to go into detail without spoiling the story. Basically the book revolves around Alex searching for his parents. But when he finally finds them, I feel like they weren’t what I was expecting.View Spoiler » [
Alex went through all this trouble to find his parents, and then they just annoyed me. They treated Alex like such a child and I was so annoyed at how his parents refused to leave with him. His parents risked their lives to go find Alex, Alex risked his life to go find them, and then when they finally meet, they’re just like, “Hi son. We’re staying here!” As a reader, I just felt let down. All that work, all that anticipation.. we finally meet the parents, and they’re annoying characters? That wasn’t very satisfying!« Hide Spoiler]
Although I wasn’t totally crazy about Ashen Winter, it did have its high points. We have some really interesting new characters including Ben, an insanely intelligent—but autistic—character. His sister, Alyssa, was less interesting. In fact, her complete disrespect for Alex’s relationship really put me off. Where Ashen Winter really shines is in how it portrays the loss of humanity. Obviously this was a big point in Ashfall as well, but it’s even more significant in Ashen Winter. We get a wider look at gangs, slavery, and even cannibalism.
Ashen Winter didn’t quite live up to my expectations, and it was an insanely long book (which made it a little difficult for me to get through), but it was still an interesting read. It’s clear just how much research Mike Mullin has put into this series and I applaud him for that!