Novel Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

I picked up Ashfall by Mike Mullin from NetGalley. Yes. I’m addicted to NetGalley. I can’t recall ever reading a novel with a male teen protagonist. I have to say, ever since I copped out of writing I Loved You First from the male perspective, I’ve been quite curious. This was my opportunity to read what goes on in the male mind and written by a male author! Plus! Plus! Plus! So the blurb from Mr. Mullin’s website:

Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the earth forever.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when Yellowstone erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.

Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter.  When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait—to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.

Before I started this book, I skimmed over the Goodreads blurb, which is a bit different from the one above. Apparently, I skipped over a few too many words, because I didn’t realize this was a search and rescue type mission. Right off the back, I have to say, I’m not fond of those kind of books. HOWEVER, Ashfall reeled me in. 🙂

I loved the author’s voice. Let’s start with Alex. I immediately connected with him because he reminded me so much of my daughter, Alex. Same name, same hobbies, if you can call World of Warcraft a hobby, and same moody attitude. It didn’t take long for Alex to reevaluate his life and realize what was really important. And I can guarantee it wasn’t making it to level 85 on his Death Knight. 🙂

Throughout the story, Alex had just the right amount of childishness about him to make him seem real. Not his attitude so much, but rather the way he went about his everyday life. Though he talked about conservation and how long his supplies needed to last him, he never seemed to change his consumption rate. For him, it was feast or famine.

Darla was the wildcard. Okay… the whole book was a wildcard, but Darla was full of her own surprises. She was the ultimate tinkerer. If I could give her a motto it would be: Just give me moving parts, and I’ll do the rest. I loved Darla’s inventiveness. She could get out of just about any situation. On the other hand, I wasn’t quite fond of her over all attitude. Honestly, I hope I never meet an individual like her. She was unreasonable rude way most of the time. Other times she overly verbal with her every-(wo)man-for-(her)himself mentality. For someone her age, one would think she’d learn how to curb her tongue a little and be a bit more subtle. With her out of her comfort zone, it’ll be interesting if she changes her talk in the sequel.

Despite the search and rescue theme, I quite enjoyed the storyline. There were enough close calls to keep me wondering who’d survive the ordeal (besides Alex, that is). Overall, this was a great read. It had a definitely conclusion, but provided a new opening for the next book, which I’m definitely looking forward to reading.

Notes for parents: Safe sex was addressed in Ashfall. However, the benefits were totally squashed with the idea of reusing condoms. I’m also not sure why the teens were such eager bunnies.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

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