Genres: Young adult, science fiction, post-apocalyptic.
Alex is home alone for the weekend when the Yellowstone supervolcano unexpectedly erupts. Volcanic ash rains down heavily on millions of people, blocking out the sun and covering parts of the USA in thick ashfall. Alex’s home is also destroyed after debris from the cataclysm causes a fire. Rather than staying in Iowa, Alex leaves to find his parents in Illinois, with little food and drink and only his ski jacket and skis to support him in the perilous trek. On his journey, Alex meets Darla, a knowledgeable, practical girl, and a strong relationship brews as they support each other in their attempt to survive in a changed world.
Ashfall is noticeably long for a young adult novel – nearly 500 pages, but I rushed through it in two days, staying up until 1am because I couldn’t put it down. Post-apocalyptic novels seem to be the only genre that continues to have an effect on me even when I’ve stopped reading. I couldn’t wander through London, with the sky growing darker and darker, without feeling as though I was enduring the Yellowstone supervolcano eruption. Mike Mullin skilfully describes what living during an apocalyptic event might be like. The supervolcano is a genuine concern and the novel is based on scientific evidence, making it feel terrifyingly realistic.
The story also depicts the way humanity might be affected by such an event – the way humans will strive to protect themselves, even if it means killing another human (and in the most gruesome of ways). It also shows the reverse – the kindness that others exhibit even though it may not been in their best interest. The reader is introduced to a myriad of contrasting characters, in particular, an eighteen year old girl named Darla. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Alex and Darla’s relationship brew. The couple go through life changing events but continue to support each other both emotionally and physically. However, Ashfall is a survival story, not a romance novel, and their relationship isn’t the main focus of the novel.
Ashfall is an extremely detailed, apocalyptic tale of emotional strength and persistence, a darker, grittier version of Life As We Knew It.
This book was obtained as an eGalley from Tanglewood Press.