Series: Ashfall #1
Author: Mike Mullin
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Publication date: October 11th 2011
Source: I own a copy
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.
Cover note: I REALLY like this cover. Much better than the new cover, even–but then I think this one better reflects the age of the characters, whereas that’s lost a little with the new cover.
It’s kind of difficult to put into words what I feel about this book. To say I enjoyed it seems almost disrespectful to a book whose tone is pretty dark and filled with content not of an enjoyable nature. And the ‘darkness’ of the book also gave it an almost oppressive veil—depressive even. So, I’ve reached the end unsure if I enjoyed it, or not.
However, that being said, I did reach the end, and so I’m going to try and concentrate on why.
The opening of this book is slow. Real slow. And the narration, written from young Alex’s pov, is so matter-of-fact, that all tension seems to have been sucked away, leaving the pacing at an extremely calm plod. Even during the scenes where I should have been on the edge of my seat, I found my pulse didn’t race—I didn’t feel any anxiety for the MC. To begin, this bothered me a little. But then, due to it being so consistent throughout the book, I grew to accept it as being Alex’s voice, and settled into it a lot better. I will say, though, that I’d passed the 100 page mark before I felt truly compelled to read on, but that could have been because the storyline grew a little more interesting and a little less repetitive once Darla entered the picture—after all, there’s only so much trudging through ash a character can do, with miniscule interaction with other humans, before it becomes a little too dreary.
But once we met Darla, my interest was certainly tweaked. Not only was she a vibrant character I wanted to learn more about, but she also seemed to add colour to Alex’s character, which made him a more intriguing dude to unravel.
From around the halfway mark, the book had me hooked. The pace seemed a bit better, the trials more … well … trying, and the relationship development was written with such subtlety, I was a pleasure to observe.
I enjoyed travelling alongside Alex on his journey as he became less boy and more man, and I enjoyed that Darla was the stronger of the two and she was by no means a stereotypical lead female. However, the ending left me swinging both ways on my thoughts. Because, whilst I liked that it wasn’t left with kittens and cuddles and all good stuff, it also ended a little too abruptly with not quite enough oomph that I turned over the next couple of pages wondering where the next chapter was. I can only presume Ashen Winter—the next instalment—will continue on where this one has left off. I hope so, anyway. I’ll let you know.
Have you read this title? What’d you think?