Adventure (Teen), Dystopia (Teen), Series, YA Fiction

Ashfall by Mike Mullin – Ashfall #1

I received an ARC for the third book in this series, not realizing that it was a part of one. After reading the premise of the third book, I realized that in order to give a fair review, I needed to read the previous 2 books in the series. And that’s exactly what I am doing now:

Alex is looking forward to being alone for the weekend. With his family gone to visit his uncle, Alex has unlimited free time to hang out with his friends and play computer games. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, and Alex’s hometown is plunged into darkness, ash, and violence. Alex has to find a way to reach his family, and so he makes the harrowing trek across the country with Darla, a travel partner he picks up along the way. Together, they must find a way to survive this epic disaster.

One of the things I really liked about this novel was its unique apocalyptic situation. I mean, we’ve read about zombies and crazy viruses that kill a great deal of the population, and all that but I’ve never really read anything about supervolcanoes. In fact, before this novel, I didn’t really know much ON supervolcanoes. It is now one more thing to add to my list of things that utterly terrify me! I really liked the way the author wrote this story. He knew what to emphasize and where to ratchet up and where to take it slow. I have no qualms about the writing whatsoever. My one problem with this novel – and it might be because of the sheer number of post-apocalyptic novels that I’ve read – was that it was all just so tame. In the beginning of the novel, we see a lot of action and we get glimpses of violence and the way society can break down in times of distress. And this is a prevailing theme throughout the novel. But even during scenes where something terribly violent occurs, it seems tamped down or muted. For a teenager to go through such a harrowing experience, but to have it relegated to only a few sentences and then brushed aside just created this weird disconnect. I would get all ramped up by the action and the direction in which the story was going, only to feel disappointed when I reached the climactic moment. While the storytelling and the plot and the characters themselves were great, I wish the author had spent more time developing some of the harsher scenes so as to give the story more depth. Overall, I think this is a good start to an interesting dystopian series. I’m curious to see how the author proceeds forward in the next book.

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