Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Published October 11, 2011 by Tanglewood Press

Pages: 466

Series: Ashfall, #1

Genre: post-apocalyptic


Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano, so large that the caldera can only be seen by plane or satellite. And by some scientific measurements, it could be overdue for an eruption.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to seach for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.

My thoughts

Review summed up in one sentence: Put down whatever you’re doing and go buy this book, RIGHT NOW!

For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my species. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn’t taken our humanity. No, we’d given that up on our own.

What do you do when the world is covered in ash and there’s no water and no food?

Alex thought he would have a great weekend playing computer games with no parental figures around to boss him around. Instead, he has worst day of his life. The power goes out, and then his house catches fire. He escapes and takes shelter with two neighbors while ear-shattering sonic booms rattle the house. Now he’s alone in the world with no idea if his parents and little sister are alive. The ash will ruin most cars, and it’s too deep to walk. He searches his burnt house and finds a pair of his dad’s skis and straps them on. He packs a bag of supplies he thinks he’ll need. With that, he skis off to find them.

And this is the biggest reason why I love this book: I love the survivalist nature of it. Alex has to rely on what he can carry on his back, and that’s it. There’s no grocery store full of food. There’s no bathroom. There’s no furnace to keep you nice and warm – you want heat, you better build a fire (and let’s hope you know how to start one!).

I live close to a volcano. I’m close enough that my neighborhood will be buried in ash when the volcano blows. After reading this book, I want to RUN to the grocery store and start stockpiling food. I’m wondering what kale tastes like. I’m planning container gardens of potatoes and beans and carrots and spinach. I’m wishing I had a backyard so I could raise chickens. Life As We Knew It had me feeling this way, too.

I think this is the best book I’ve read in a long time. It’s well-written, action-packed, and much of it is fast-paced. Alex’s relationship with Darla is refreshingly normal and sweet. They complement each other. Alex is generous where Darla would be untrusting and stingy. Alex is a naïve city boy, while Darla is a tough farm girl. I thought Darla was slightly too good at fixing things (she always knew how to solve the problem? how lucky), but at the same time I can appreciate how it’s the girl who comes up with the solution instead of the guy.

I loved all the details about fire-building, first aid, and searching for food and shelter. It made the book feel so real to me.

I would HIGHLY recommend this book to post-apocalyptic fans. Possibly any YA fans. Just read this book!

Rating: 5 stars


The Ashfall Series

Click on the images for their respective Goodreads page.

ashfallbkcover ashenwinterbkcover