Series: Ashfall #1
Published by: Tanglewood Press on October 11, 2011
Genre: Adventure, Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Survival, Young Adult
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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. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.
This book is freakin’ scary. For some reason I wasn’t super incredibly excited to read it. I wasn’t unexcited, I just wasn’t looking forward to it the most. But wow, Ashfall has probably affected me the most out of all the books I’ve read this year. This book will make you think, and wonder, and fear, and then go do research to see if it could actually happen. Because it could actually happen, and that’s what makes this book so terrifying. Before I even finished reading, I started doing loads and loads of research, Googling all about the “Yellowstone supervolcano” and soaking up a bunch of information.
In addition to being a total shocker, Ashfall was heart-wrenching. It kind of reminded me of the movie The Day After Tomorrow. That movie is about a devastating disaster, and then a father trekking from Philadelphia to Manhattan to save his son. In Ashfall, the Yellowstone supervolcano errupts, and Alex decides to trek over a hundred miles to get back to his family. The devotion and determination is really moving.
Ashfall was actually funnier than I thought it would be! I mean it wasn’t exactly in the humour genre, but Alex had hilarious thoughts sometimes and there were just little snippets here and there that made me laugh! Like this quote:
Darla had been doing something by the fire. Now she returned and began stripping the blanket off me. I grabbed it before she could pull it away from my groin, to preserve my modesty.Page 131
“Let go. There’s nothing there I haven’t seen. Who do you think undressed you, anyway? And honestly, I’ve seen better equipment on goats.”
Alex had such an awesome personality and I loved reading from his point of view. He’s kind of a cool kid who clearly used to be a bit awkward and antisocial. He was sucked into video games and books and didn’t seem to enjoy the “real world” that much. Maybe that’s part of why he’s so blunt and has such an awesome take on everything.
There were a few times where I felt that Ashfall was getting a little slow, but that quickly disappeared once I got to the last third of the book. There were some huge plot progressions and the romance started. OH MY GOD, THE ROMANCE! I absolutely adored the romance in Ashfall. It was so real.. I mean Alex and Darla had great chemistry, but Mike Mullin also included some of the awkward parts of a romance, and that’s what made it feel so real. Like two people talking about whether or not they’re virgins, considering having sex, and so on. Usually books make those kind of things sound so easy and just brush over them. But in Ashfall, those conversations are kind of awkward, which is totally awesome!
As a heads up, there are a few pretty violent and/or gruesome scenes in Ashfall. There’s some killing, detailed descriptions of gutting animals, horrible living conditions, starvation, etc. Some of them were pretty disgusting, but it was also very realistic. I mean with no food, no help, and no communication, people are hunting animals and prepare their own meat, raiding and looting, defending themselves from intruders, and so on! But if you’re squeamish, just beware!
The loss of humanity is a huge thing in Ashfall. I already alluded to it a bit, but in the book we really see how apocalypse brings out the worst in some people. There are those who will do absolutely anything to get their hands on food and supplies — including murder. Some people go about it with violence, and others go about it with dirty politics. Seeing these things happen in Ashfall is so saddening and eye opening. It’s terrifying to imagine that there are people who would do those kinds of things.
Ashfall is a terrifyingly realistic post-apocalyptic book and I’m so glad I got the chance to read it! It has my brain totally alive and buzzing, imagining the possibility of disaster and fearing the worst. But Ashfall also gives you a glimmer of hope. Despite all the horrible things in the world, great things can still happen. Romance can still be found and families can find a way to stay together!