Ashfall by Mike Mullins
published on 11 October 2011
I am still thinking about this book and it has been days since I read it. I always say the sign of a great novel is that is keeps you up at night thinking about it. I lost a few nights sleep over this one!
After a super volcano under Yellowstone erupts, the US is devastated by the fallout. Soon to be sixteen year old Alex Halprin is sitting alone in his bedroom in Iowa at the start of a weekend alone while his parents visit his uncle in Illinois when the devastation begins. Alex is thrust into an unknown world that is out of control and ever changing. Alex decides to make the trek from Cedar Falls to Warren to find his parents, along the way he must learn very quickly how to survive the ashfall without starving, dehydrating or becoming a victim of violence. It is an epic story of survival. From the start Alex must begin to learn to ration his food and water and seek out safe shelter. After a near death encounter Alex meets Darla Edmunds and her mom. They save his life and let Alex stay with them until he is strong enough to continue his journey. A devastating event occurs that thrusts Alex and Darla together for the rest of the trek to Warren.
I really liked Alex. He was a normal almost sixteen year old. He had enough wit to get supplies together and get started on his trek, but he also really grows throughout the book. It doesn't take him long to start to adapt to the ever changing environment, roll with it and keep surviving. I also liked that he makes mistakes, more than one and they have consequences. It just felt so real. Although Alex has to adapt and change he is very compassionate. He still wants to help others and is grateful when someone helps him. He never asks for help, but takes what is offered and tries to give back. He is affected by the demoralization of society as it faces the devastating fallout of the eruption.
Where to begin with Darla! She has so much character! She is a spit-fire. She speaks her mind and is a hard worker. She is incredibly smart and mechanically inclined. She is amazing! Take Darla's creativity and Alex's prior experiences mash them together and you have an unstoppable couple! I was thrilled with the way the book ended. A companion, Ashen Winter, is expected in the fall of 2012 so be on the look out.
If you stand in the shower thinking of all the things you really should have on hand or learn to do, you are not alone! Maybe I will move to a small farm, raise some animals and crops...just in case. :) 4 Stars!