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Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Ashfall (edition 2011)

by Mike Mullin

Series: Ashfall (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5919416,634 (3.98)51
Authors:Mike Mullin
Info:Tanglewood Press (2011), Hardcover, 476 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:read 2012, young adult, science fiction, library

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Ashfall by Mike Mullin


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Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
I was impressed at the survival details--and believed he'd done his research. Having researched volcanic eruptions thoroughly myself (initially from my own interest, later to write my own novel), I was impressed at his knowledge of scientific details, too.

It's a good story, but you can't win me over to your tale unless you do your research, and Mullin did. ( )
  Lou_Cadle | Aug 24, 2014 |
After all the hype I was a little disappointed in this one. I liked the story as it was ok, but I wanted a lot more of what the further impact was across the country. I'm sure it was supposed to be more of a focus on a single person and their story, but I still wanted that additional info. I was expecting more like Life as We Know It. It fell a little short for me.

I will, however, be growing more kale and other types of produce and staying away from FEMA camps if at all possible. ( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
*No spoilers.

Somewhere between 3.5 and 3.75.

What sets Ashfall apart from the many dystopian novels that have hit the market in recent years, is that this is no fantasy. Sure, this story is a figment of Mullin’s imagination, but the reality is that Yellowstone is a supervolcano and while eruption during our lifetime is improbable, it isn’t impossible. The devastation that happens in Ashfall could happen to us tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t. Keep them tightly crossed.

The book starts off with a bang – a huge bang. Mullin’s descriptive writing made it easy to grasp how immense and horrific a Yellowstone eruption could really be. I haven’t scientifically verified that he did his research, but it sure read like he did. If you’ve seen such movies as The Day After Tomorrow or 2012, you know how easily depictions of catastrophic events can get silly. The written depictions of the eruption and aftermath were not silly or overdone. Mullin didn’t exaggerate for effect, probably because when it’s a catastrophic event you’re talking about, exaggeration is unnecessary. It’s scary all on its own. I’ve read worse things in books, but again, what makes this hit a nerve is the fact that this could really happen to you. Tommorow.

As a MC, Alex worked nicely. I didn’t dislike him or want him to die and that’s always a good sign. I’m often rooting for MC’s to die deaths as slow and painful as my having to read their stupid antics. He wasn’t overly bright, but neither was he completely TSTL. I felt like his reactions to his circumstances were genuine, so bravo, Mullin. He wasn’t all good, though. He was a Harry Sue, albeit a sly one. It wasn’t overly in-your-face, but looking back, he had numerous instances of Harry Sue-ism. I don’t like that.

As for Darla, the secondary MC, I liked her, too and in many ways, more than I liked Alex. She was smart, savvy, sassy, and as handy as Macguyver in 1987. She could fix anything, but it was believable, given her background. Her circumstances were, amongst many bleak things, the saddest. I shed one tear while reading this book and it was for her. Mullin did a fine job in portraying her emotions and I got caught up in them. For the most part, though, she was a fighter and the voice of reason. She often tried to talk sense to our Harry Sue, but he would have none of it. Her foresight was as good as his hindsight. Too bad he often overruled her.

I’m happy to say that the romance in this book progressed at a normal speed. No insta-love. No triangles. No nonsense. I wasn’t swooning or anything, but I was content with the romance and how it didn’t overpower the rest of the story.

Overall, the book is good. The main idea is plausible, the characters are pretty likable, and there aren’t too many lulls in the pace or in the action, but that’s also where the weakness of the story lies. The amount of “hairy situations” our MCs got into were many and it was a little too much. It’s good to keep the story interesting, but realistically speaking, I don’t think they would have faced so much adversity so quickly in real life. I could be wrong (lawd, I hope I’d be wrong), but I felt like it was all a little much.

Despite its shortcomings, Ashfall is a very decent start to the series. If you’ve not yet tried this one, give it a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog:

( )
  JennyJen | Aug 14, 2014 |
This is a true, "liked it" 3-star rating, not a "meh."

This is the story of Alex, a 15-year-old kid in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He's pretty typical: gives his parents a hard time, plays World of Warcraft, and has done taekwando for years. He's just seen his parents and sister off on their way to his uncle's farm when BLAM, the entire world comes to a screeching halt. The Yellowstone supervolcano has blown, and life will never be the same.

You know, I've also read Harry Turtledove's Supervolcano: Eruption, and I have to say, I like this one better. Alex is a more likeable, relatable character, and the story has a notable lack of Velveeta. Well done.

Particular pluses:
--Alex is not perfect. He's scared spitless, takes risks, wings it, and lives with the consequences. And there ARE consequences.
--I really appreciated the descriptions of the physical effects of the ash and snow. He gets the details right on the biological stuff, and that earns trust in my book.
--Nice twist on the governmental role (no spoilers).
--Nice job being matter-of-fact about the married male couple who live across the street. Right on.

--Darla is a bit of a Mary Sue, but it's tolerable, especially when she's just using it as a front.
--Again with the rape. Just once, I'd like to read a postapocalyptic novel that concentrated on people cooperating to rebuild the world, or gave us something else to motivate the character, or hell, even used MALE rape as the plot device. I know, I know, it's not "realistic." But guess what, people? That's why they call it "fiction." Maybe if we model something else for once, it might become more prevalent. I can dream. It's not enough to put me off the book entirely, but it's SO LAZY and tired. Come on, Mullin--you've got promise, just think outside the proverbial box. This one wasn't even necessary to the plot. /soapbox

All in all, this is a fine start to the series--it's The Road with more action, more hope, more accessible characters, and clearer language. I'll definitely read the next one. ( )
  Pat_F. | Jul 25, 2014 |
While I absolutely love the idea of a novel written about the aftermath of an exploding supervolcano (there needs to be more attention paid to this!), the writing style is a turn-off. Mullin wrote the story as if the young boy himself was writing it, and so it is very "dumbed down" and repetitive, with short sentences. It was distracting and ultimately I could not finish the book. ( )
  amandacb | Jun 2, 2014 |
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Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.
—Will Durant
For Margaret, my Darla
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I was home alone on that Friday evening.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the Earth forever.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when the supervolcano erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.

Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter. When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait—to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.

With nonstop action, a little romance, and realistic science, debut author Mike Mullin tells a mesmerizing story. Readers will turn Ashfall’s pages breathlessly, and continue to ponder Alex and Darla’s fate long after they close the book.
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After the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano destroys his city and its surroundings, fifteen-year-old Alex must journey from Cedar Falls, Iowa, to Illinois to find his parents and sister, trying to survive in a transformed landscape and a new society in which all the old rules of living have vanished.… (more)

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Average: (3.98)
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