Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

23 November, 2011 Reviews 4 comments

Review: Ashfall by Mike MullinAshfall by Mike Mullin
Series: Ashfall #1
Published by Tanglewood Press on October 11th 2011
Pages: 466
Genres: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: NetGalley
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano, 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 supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to seach 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.

I seem to be one of the very few that found this book a little on the average side.  It really probably wasn’t the book’s fault.  In fact,if you’re looking for some good reviews of this book, try out Phoebe North’s review.

There are several different reasons why people enjoy apocalypse stories.  Some people enjoy watching the break down of society and making commentary on that.  Some people enjoy the struggle for survival.  Me?  I like to read them to compare them to what*I* would do.  The more applicable the situation to me is, the better.  Like zombies, right?  Everyone can associate with a good zombie apocalypse. You’re getting your elbow chewed on, I’m getting my elbow chewed on, we’re all being eaten! Look!  Something to share!

The problem with more specific disaster scenarios is the risk that part of your audience may not be able to relate to the situation.  That was me.  Don’t get me wrong.  Just because I live in Australia, doesn’t mean I think that we’re going to cruise through a planet-killer like Yellowstone Volcano like we did through the Global Financial Crisis.  Of course everything but the most meager dregs of humanity are going to be killed when that thing goes off.  But we’re going to have a different kind of struggle to the one the main character has.

He was a reasonable character who started off a little weak and boring for me.  It was approximately page 250 when I had very nearly given up on this book, that he really picked up and I began to enjoy his personal story. Darla’s character is enjoyable from the get-go and I think it is her inclusion in this book that truly pushes it up onto a well-deserved pedestal.

The writing is, for the most part, very serviceable.  It is smooth when it needs to be, gritty when it needs to be and achingly painful for other parts. I certainly have no qualms about that!

I suppose, for this book, it was the little things that got to me.  Themes that didn’t translate as well across the Pacific Ocean.  This book deals with themes of government oppression and corporate greed that vaguely felt silly to me.  Though, to be fair, I get why this is an unsettling premise to Americans.  My government has never tried to transmit thoughts into our brain!  Our military still runs on Windows 03!

Then surprisingly, was the transparent fear-mongering against socialism and how horrible it is to be stripped down and become part of the masses under an oppressive regime. Socialism, government fear, issues with authority and autonomy aren’t as big a deal here and I think gave a triteness to this novel, for me, that a different audience would find powerful and unsettling.

Over all it was a fun read, and for a different audience, I think it would serve its purpose very strongly.

*This ARC was provided to me by the publishers.  No money or gifts were exchanged for this review.

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy

4 Responses to “Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin”

  1. Kate

    Sounds like a novel written from a very specific political perspective. I think your review is pretty fair, considering not everyone could find that appealing. 🙂

  2. CuddleBug

    Thanks Kate. It does feel that way. It's like The Road by Cormac McCarthy but less depressing because it's really, REALLY hard to be that depressing.The thing is, my government is more afraid of us than we are of it. Also our politicians are complete idiots and I don't think they have the capabilities of even thinking of what the government does in this book. They'd still be bickering with each other in the face of human disaster.

  3. Eesti

    The characters are fantastic! Alex is such a strong character, who's really smart and resourceful, using skis to travel across the ash. In the beginning he's a sort of nerdy kind who likes to spend all his time playing WOW, but he also takes taekwondoe so you know there's something deeper to him. He ends up changing and growing a lot throughout the novel. Darla is a great female character, she's strong, and smart, and sassy, everything you want a female protagonist to be.

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