Wednesday, November 9, 2011


by Mike Mullin
Tanglewood Press
476 pp.
Ages 14+

Summary (from Mike Mullin's website):  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 Yellowstone 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.

Review:  I had a hard time putting this down. The action starts on page one and doesn't stop until page 476. This is a story of survival, of facing the worst possible catastrophe. Mullin succeeds in painting a frighteningly realistic scenario. Nothing in this book is beyond reach. It could happen. And he holds nothing back. The scene where Alex and Darla butcher and skin a rabbit made me sick to my stomach, but I couldn't stop reading.  

Ashfall is a nice change of pace from the abundance of paranormal and dystopian books out there (I love both genres, btw). It's a fast read that keeps you turning pages to see what happens next. There is some teen sexuality told from a male point of view. Although Mullin does spare us most of the details, "fooling around", condoms, and sex are mentioned. Also, there is graphic violence. Very well written, shockingly realistic. Definitely for an older teen audience. Having said all that, I loved Ashfall and am looking forward to the sequel, Ashen Winter, due out next year.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Profanity:  Mild
Violence:  Heavy
Sex: Moderate


  1. Oh wow, I'll bet I'd love this book. Great premise and great title. Thanks for the review!

  2. I'm so glad for the reminder about this book! I read a few really positive reviews about this some months ago, following which I swore I'd add it to my to-read list. This did not happen then, but it's surely happening now!