Friday, March 21, 2014

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Another librarian friend of mine told me about this new series, and it's truly amazing. If you like post-apocalyptic YA, you will love Ashfall, the first in a trilogy set in our very own Iowa.

In the first chapter of the novel, a teen boy named Alex is left home alone for the weekend. While he is innocently trying decide which computer games to play without interruption, the house begins to shake, thunder sounds louder than he's ever heard, and he ends up pulling himself from the rubble pile that is his home. No one in his small town seems to know what is going on, but a strange substance begins to fall from the sky and doesn't quit - the ash from a distant mega-volcano. The struggle that ensues for Alex, who tries desperately to get back to his family a couple hours away, is mesmerizing. The ash becomes like the dust in the American Dust Bowl era, covering everything and killing people and animals who breathe it in and destroying the natural resources by suffocating them. Along the road, Alex is met with struggles of violence both from other people and the desolate environment and altered weather patterns that follow the volcano's destruction. He does find a friend, Darla, along the way, who is both a hindrance and a help in his survival but who helps him retain his humanity in a very inhumane setting.

I'm not quite sure why I couldn't put Ashfall down. It was dark and dystopian, yes, but the idea of the ash and the struggle and randomness of the characters Alex meets was like no other. It seemed very real and unbelievable at the same time, and while the journey had a pattern and rhythm to it, it was so exciting, I couldn't wait to see if he made it to his family.  I also can't wait to read the second in the series, Ashen Winter, and all Mullin's fans anxiously await the newest and last book, Sunrise, which comes out soon.

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