By Mike Mullin (His website is currently selling autographed copies for pre-order.)
Release Date: October 14, 2011
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Genre: YA, Post Apocalyptic, Sci-Fi
What if the super volcano known as Yellowstone National Park blew its top?
Alex thinks that it's going to be just another weekend playing World of Warcraft while his folks are away visiting family. What he doesn't expect is his house to catch on fire because of a super volcanic eruption thousands of miles away. The cataclysmic events that ensue describe a frightening world covered in a layer of deadly ash.
The violence in the world after the volcano is described through Alex's experiences. It isn't long, after the deafening noise which lasts days, that he sees a man kill another for food. Alex realizes that to survive, he needs to be willing to protect himself, and utilizes his martial arts training to get by in this new unfriendly world.
As he makes the trek out to find his family, he comes across many kinds of people. People working together to provide some kind of structure and order, and others who are looking only out for themselves, and will murder and plunder to maintain their survival.
The character development is well done. Alex is just like another World of Warcraft obsessed kid who has to grow up in the face of immense adversity. Darla, a farm girl, who has a way with machines is another character that blossoms in a beautiful way.
As the world plunges into a potentially endless winter, the love the two characters have for each other, in this wasteland of snow and ash, grows. The reader is invested in the relationship, and the romantic scenes seem authentic manifestations of love, unlike the indulgence of a lot of the sappy, hyper emotional gag-me-paragraphs that litter young adult books nowadays.
This coming of age novel, on a post apocalyptic backdrop, engrosses the reader with its ability to frighten and show very real threat to humanity. Not in the sense that the book delves into the fact that a cataclysmic event could occur, but because it shows what could happen to American society if infrastructure collapses. How will people treat one another? And if there is no food, and people are struggling to survive, there is a huge chance that some of the atrocities in Mullin's book could come to pass.
Violence, politics, love, sex, hunger, starvation all are major themes, and the author is able to weave them together flawlessly. It truly is a frightening book, and many times I found myself cringing at some of the graphic descriptions of the gore and death the characters come across. But as I read the horrible things that happened to the characters, I wanted to know even more how they would turn out.
The book ends in a somewhat open ended fashion, and there wasn't too much of a denouement as the characters are still facing crises when the story ends. It gives me an impression that there is a possibility for a sequel, which I would be more than willing to read.
There was a lot I liked in this book, but I feel like it ended a little too soon (even though it's 472 pages!). Part of the reason is because I enjoyed it so much I wanted to know more about Alex's new world, but part of it may be the fact that the author is intending to do a sequel. So I feel like it isn't totally complete.
This is a great book for any readers of dystopian or post-apocalyptic literature. You'll be sorry if you don't read this book.
Check out Ashfall's page on GoodReads.
Come, we shall have some fun now!