I seem to be one of the very few that found this book a little on the average side It really probably wasn t the book s fault In fact, if you re looking for some good reviews of this book, try out Phoebe North s Review There are several different reasons why people enjoy apocalypse stories Some people enjoy watching the break down of society and making commentary on that Some people enjoy the struggle for survival Me I like to read them to compare them to what I would do The applicable the situation to me is, the better Like zombies, right Everyone can associate with a good zombie apocalypse You re getting your elbow chewed on, I m getting my elbow chewed on, we re all being eaten Look Something to share The problem with specific disaster scenarios is the risk that part of your audience may not be able to relate to the situation That was me Don t get me wrong Just because I live in Australia, doesn t mean I think that we re going to cruise through a planet killer like Yellowstone Volcano like we did through the Global Financial Crisis Of course everything but the most meagre dregs of humanity are going to be killed when that thing goes off But we re going to have a different kind of struggle to the one the main character has.
He was a reasonable character who started off a little weak and boring for me It was approximately page 250 when I had very nearly given up on this book, that he really picked up and I began to enjoy his personal story Darla s character is enjoyable from the get go and I think it is her inclusion in this book that truly pushes it up onto a well deserved pedestal The writing is, for the most part, very serviceable It is smooth when it needs to be, gritty when it needs to be and achingly painful for other parts I certainly have no qualms about that I suppose, for this book, it was the little things that got to me Themes that didn t translate as well across the Pacific Ocean This book deals with themes of government oppression and corporate greed that vaguely felt silly to me Though, to be fair, I get why this is an unsettling premise to Americans My government has never tried to transmit thoughts into my brain Our military still runs on Windows 03 Then surprisingly, was the transparent fear mongering against socialism and how horrible it is to be stripped down and become part of the masses under an oppressive regime Socialism, government fear, issues with authority and autonomy aren t as big a deal here and I think gave a triteness to this novel, for me, that a different audience would find powerful and unsettling Over all it was a fun read, and for a different audience, I think it would serve its purpose very strongly Review also appears on 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.
Being a teenager in a world covered with ashes is not easy at all Alex discovered that after the eruption of a volcano in Yellowstone National Park His parents and his little sister had left town just before the earth started to shake and Alex was left all alone in a burning house with no one but himself and two friendly neighbors to rely on Pretty soon he decided to go on a journey with the hope of finding his family Since walking was obviously not an option, he found his father s old skis and prayed that he ll be able to travel a hundred miles to his uncle s house on them.
Even if I d somehow failed to notice the name of the author, it would be very clear to me that Ashfall was written by a man, and I mean that in the best possible way Details of taekwondo moves, very realistic interpersonal relationships and descriptions of natural physical urges were just a few telling signs The love between Alex and Darla was beautiful and refreshing, especially when compared to all the exaggerated and unconvincing romances we came to expect in postapocalyptic YA literature I loved the way Mullin reversed their roles and removed them from all stereotypes Darla is a mechanic and an innovator, she is interested in tools and she is, without a doubt, the tough one in their relationship That s not to say that Alex is weak or that there s anything remotely epicene about him He is resourceful, mature and strong Sure, sometimes he lets his temper get the best of him, but mostly he is calm and level headed than any 15 year old I ve ever met view spoiler In fact, he was a little too perfect at times A teenage boy refusing sex because there are no condoms around snorts hide spoiler Under The Bubbling Hot Springs And Geysers Of Yellowstone National Park Is A Supervolcano Most People Don T Know It S There The Caldera Is So Large That It Can Only Be Seen From A Plane Or Satellite It Just Could Be Overdue For An Eruption, Which Would Change The Landscape And Climate Of Our PlanetFor 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 Search 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 June 27, 2012SUPERVOLCANO I strongly recommend a visit to karen s fabulous review, which along with her encouragement got me interested in this gripping and realistic taleAND A SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCE BY karen IS FEATURED IN THIS JOINT REVIEW YAY So here is what we are talking about We will start with some science.
Pic 1 Ashfall zones from known eruptions of the Yellowstone Supervolcano Age millions of years ago for the specific eruption.
How likely is an eruption during our lifetimesA rough estimate based on geologic records indicates there s a 1 in 10,000 chance of a supereruption at Yellowstone during our lifetimes However, given the erratic nature of volcanoes, that number doesn t mean much The bulging pocket of magma swishing around beneath Old Faithful might never blow its lid again Or, it might put on a surprise fireworks show next Independence Day Scientists just don t know And what does that huge caldera look like First, a science overview.
Pic 2 Above ground schematic Pic 3 Below ground model Yep, that s what we are talking about Now for the longer review July 1, 2012Okay, let s set the real world scene.
org wiki File YelIn the foreground is the Yellowstone River, winding peacefully through the Hayden Valley From what we see here, this could be any alluvial flood plain from any sizable river, formed from sediments that eroded from the mountains in the distance.
Yes But This particular flood plain is the floor of the Yellowstone Caldera, northeastern portion It lies directly over the the bulge magma hotspot shown schematically in Pic 3 above And those mountains in the distance are the edge of the caldera In plain English, the mountains are the RIM OF THE VOLCANO If and when there is another major eruption, this peaceful valley will be a seething, violent cauldron, and millions of tons of molten rock and ash will spew forth.
A similar caldera from the same hotspot but in southern Idaho was formed between 10 and 12 million years ago, and the event dropped ash to a depth of one foot, 1,000 miles away in northeastern Nebraska Within the past 17 million years, 142 or caldera forming eruptions have occurred from the Yellowstone hotspot, as discussed in this Wikipedia article.
AshfallIn what follows, I will focus as usual on big picture aspects of the story, and stay mostly away from plot details If you are completely unfamiliar with the book, there will be some mild spoilers in the details But most of those are implied in the publisher s synopsisAnd watch for comments by SPECIAL GUEST REVIEWER, karen YAY karen s comments will appear in this formatSo let s talk about some general aspects of this book Plausibles Will the Yellowstone caldera have another massive eruption at some point in the future I think the odds are very strong that it will.
The site is under continuous surveillance, and you can check up on the latest at the USGS University of Utah websiteThere is even a webcam where you can watch for the next eruption Note the wispy puffs of steam here and there at ground level And this quote from the webcam pageThis area hosted a variety of rock hurling hydrothermal steam eruptions during the 1930s In recent years, similar smaller blasts have been known to occurNow, if that doesn t get your heart pumping, then you fail the geek test.
Will the effects of a major eruption be devastating for all life within a radius of hundreds of miles including human, if we survive all those other apocalypses that may come sooner than this one Absolutely.
Here are some critters that were fossilized by a previous eruption of the hotspot the one in Idaho, mentioned above The pic is from Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, in Nebraska And yes, that is volcanic ash that surrounds them and covered them before it was cleared away.
There is a ton of science on this subject, and hundreds of web pages, scholarly articles, books, etc that delve into all the scientific details The Yellowstone Supervolcano is very real, and a lot is known about it.
The author placed the scene of his Ashfall story in Iowa, about 900 miles from the eruption site I think this choice was reasonable based on the Ashfall zones from relatively recent eruptions see map in Pic 1 The Ashfall might not reach quite the depths discussed in the book, at that distance from the caldera And the noise levels described in the days after the eruption might also be somewhat overstated But these are minor quibbles, I think, and the quibbles could also be wrong In any case, it seems very likely that all human life within several hundred miles of the caldera would be exterminated by the combination of projectiles, ash, poisonous gases, and habitat destruction and there are other factors that the reader will discover So, I would say that the Iowa scene was an excellent choice overall for the story as written Human behavior, post apocalypse For review purposes, let s just say that some really bad human behavior happens, beginning soon after the initial cataclysm As a reference point, think about New Orleans in the days and weeks after Katrina There were acts of extraordinary heroism, courage and selflessness There were also acts of barbarism, violence, and savagery Many of us watched coverage of those events, and I doubt that we will ever forget what we saw Now, instead of toxic flood water, think of a blanket of ash and an atmosphere of sulphur dioxide and other noxious goodies And a VERY much larger impact zone.
Do normal rules of law, order and civility break down in such situations You bet Do people of high character rise to the occasion, match wits with the disaster and the demons, and win a few battles here and there Yes, they do Both of those manifestations are handled extremely well here, and in stark, vivid detail Not for the squeamish, but certainly not over the top in my view I found it all highly engrossing and very believable.
Male POV The merits and demerits of this first person male narrative approach have been discussed elsewhere I thought that Alex was very effective as the story teller, and both the telling and his character became interesting and nuanced as the story rolled along There were moments, especially early, where Alex was, umm, annoyingly obtuse And yes, I wanted to slap him around a few times as he struggled to master the obvious But for me, those problems disappeared around 20 30% into the story, and I give kudos to the author for the highly believable growth in his characterkaren s comments i was talking to mike mullin at ala, and he said that one of the things he likes to do is reverse the typical gender roles so darla is very mechanically inclined, and practical, while alex is a bit emotional than your typical boy in YA novelsStrong, smart female protagonist Darla was definitely one of my favorite female leads in recent memory, and I will continue to emphasize the critical importance of intelligent, proactive women whenever I find them in my reading Put simply, Darla is a prime force for survival of the good guys More on this from karen below but she is resourceful, clear headed, very determined, and extremely capable AND she takes the initiative No wimpy girl, waiting around for the strong guy to point the way NO WAY Darla is a winner in every sensekaren s comments and it s great that she is older than him, and that he does look up to and respect her, despite being a giiiiiirl but they are still on equal footing they both have something to teach the other, and that s where their attraction come from not this shallow connection you see a lot on YA, where it is all surface level, or seems to arise because of proximity only, and not because the characters have any real feelings for each otherSurvival tacticsLet this sink in for a moment Most of the area covered by ashes is farmland that normally produces a sizable percentage of the nation s food and a huge amount for export Wheat, corn and other staple crops cattle, pigs, and poultry all wiped out by the Ashfall The repercussions are felt worldwide, and some of this is detailed in the book But the everyday struggle for the next meal is uppermost in the story Town boy Alex must learn quickly how to cope Farm girl Darla, with her knowledge of machinery and creative use of all available items, is critical to most of the adaptations I was really impressed with the way these aspects of the story were handledkaren s comments these two have come through the trenches together, but their relationship doesn t seem to be because of external conflict that thing that happens when two people share the same traumatic experience and that binds them together emotionally, but that conflict made the relationship possible just by bringing them together in the first place they do keep rescuing each other, to varying degrees, but i think their characteristics are compatible even without the circumstances, you knowWho s in charge of recovery efforts And WHERE is the government aid Some reviewers have questioned the near total absence of U.
S government support in much of what happens here What really interested me was the mechanism by which the government DID play an active role, and the extremely sinister aspects of that The prominent role of government contractors in recent U.
S military engagements and one company in particular Blackwater Xe were very much in my thoughts as I read those sections The other prevailing theme in this regard was the martial law mentality of the scene, and the loss of human values that resultedkaren s comments well, there is an attempt made in the book to gather people together into refugee camps, but what happens there seems to be a criticism on the way FEMA is unprepared to deal with large scale events of this kind there aren t enough supplies, no one really knows how to handle the volume of people, no one knows how long this situation will continue and, of course, put the wrong people in charge, and things are going to get ugly as they do and it only becomes horrifying in the sequel, the problems with the refugee camps we just have too damn many people in this country, and if something like this happens, this is a very realistic portrayal of how things could go down hiding under my bed nowIs there a sequel Why yes, there is And karen has a copy of the ARC, and has written a preliminary review The book will be released in October 2012karen s comments the sequel well i don t want to give too much away, but darla and alex become separated, and as time goes on and food becomes scarcer, people become harder and imaginative in their fight for survival there aren t good guys and bad guys, there are just people trying to survive and while some people do in fact seem very very bad, usually mullin will throw in a scene that humanizes them a little, so they can t just easily be dismissed as bad it s a very smart thing to doWrap upSo, I really enjoyed this innovative story about a titanic catastrophe and the valiant efforts of two teens to cope I did not get hung up on the likelihood of the event It may not happen for many millennia, but there are good reasons to keep an eye on that enormous calderakaren s comments what s great about these books is that he is crazy for the science he doesn t shrink away from using actual medical terminology, or going off on a geological fact tangent but in a way that doesn t sound like a textbook it just makes the story believable and important to read i cannot praise this book highly enoughAgreed I thought the story told here was highly plausible in the event of a major eruption, and extremely sobering in its implications The book can serve as a wake up call for an action plan If and when it happens, there will be tremendous death and destruction on a global scale But forewarned is still forearmed for those who survive, and I took this book as an appeal to the better angels of our nature.
Very Highly Recommended 4.
5 starsWell, colour me surprised I kind of love this book Let me clarify that statement I didn t expect to dislike it I wouldn t have gone to the effort of procuring it Ashfall is not available in Australia if I didn t have a desire to read it But my physical TBR pile is literally view spoiler that s a proper literally , thanks very much hide spoiler The first night after I started reading this book, I dreamt about being stuck in a house and hiding from some people while trying to survive escape All night THAT, is a sign of a good book This story is told in Alex s point of view A huge volcano has erupted and they re now seeing and living the after effects Which means a LOT of ash falling, incredible climate changes, and desperate food situations I love that the book started right before the eruption We got to live through it with Alex while he was unaware of what was happening or why his house was basically falling down on him.
I hate to compare books, especially with big hits like the Hunger Games But I seriously have NOT read a book since the Hunger Games that has given me such a rush of pulse pounding excitement not knowing if they were going to survive from one page to the next Once the ash started falling and Alex figured it wasn t going to stop any time soon, he left to go find his family who were away at his uncle s house It s a 2 hour drive from there So imagine slugging through cement like wet ash, on foot All food has been scavenged, nothing naturally growing is salvageable, the heavy ash is making houses collapse, no electricity or phones Breathing is even a problem It was exhilarating every single minute of this book had my adrenaline pumping The protagonist, Alex, was extremely strong willed and his character was deeply realistic I could connect with him and really worry about him to the core He got into dire situations that were very intense, but still realistic under the circumstances I could imagine this all happening for real the human reaction and violence that would occur is how I would expect it Everyone is out for their own and trying to survive I m sure we can all imagine what desperate people will do in these circumstances There is nothing paranormal in this book It s a natural disaster happening in the present The story itself is nothing like I ve ever read, it s certainly original with a strong apocalyptic feel Following Alex on his alarming and scary journey was thrilling and thoroughly addicting I would give it 10 stars if I could Actual rating 3.
5 starsI was really, really excited to read Ashfall I ve been devouring dystopian novels left and right recently I m always itching for my next fix Seriously, I think I have a problem at this rate, I might just have to check myself into some sort of program Ashfall is a bit different from the current slew of dystopian novels For one thing, it is written from a male PoV These seem to be in slow supply these days, sadly Ashfall tells the story of 15 year old Alex traveling from Cedar Falls, Iowa to Warren, Illinois after the supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park unexpectedly erupts.
Let s pause for a bit If you are like me and didn t really pay close attention in school about volcanoes, or skipped science class, or slept your way to graduation view spoiler hide spoiler
Great reread COME ON MIKE, GIMME BLADES OF SPRING SUCH a fantastic book Well written, well researched, detailed but fast paced, frightening and exciting There were several times reading this where I was literally terrified of what was happening or what would happen next for Alex I wasn t expecting much from Darla I m not a fan of the name, dunno why , but I warmed up to her quickly and they play off each other so well The entire trip from Iowa to Illinois was never boring, and Mr Mullin was able to mix in plenty of humor so the story never got too dark I need the next one SO BAD right now but I m gonna make myself wait until I ve read the stack of how many do I have now four books visualizes my couch Yeah, four Gotta finish the four other library books before I ll let myself grab the second one in this series BUT I M SO EXCITED This feels like it ll be my third favorite dystopian series, after Hunger Games and Unwind Or maybe it s a three way tie Who knows update My dad read this last week and loved it D excited for him to read the other two My mates over at Tanglewood Press have asked me not to review this book until a month prior to its release.
So Instead, I give you Elle s Top Ten List of Things Learnt From Reading Ashfall1 Mike Mullin is a genius2 Bald chicks are hot3 Bunnies are delicious 4 Toilet water is also delicious5 I should really get around to planting that corn field6 Mike Mullin is who I will befriend during the next apocalypse7 Darla a name no longer reserved for 1930 s boobalicious southern damsels8 Despite what you ve been told, Obama will not save you from a slow and excruciating demise9 If a cannibal comes a knockin , Taekwondo kick him in the balls10 And for the love of all that is good and true DON T PISS OFF THE GAYS
He doesn t have much sulking time though because something hits his house and crushes in the roof and sets the house on fire That can get a teenager off his ass Well, sometimes.
We learn that the super volcano at Yellowstone has exploded Don t go and Google that shit like I did It will scare the crap out of you Alex grows up fast and goes in search of his family Along the way he is joined by Darla.
who is flipping awesome It s rare in young adult books that the female mc is cooler than the male one but it happens here We were tired, hungry, and wrapped in multiple layers of filthy winter clothing None of that mattered to me I was in love I thought Darla was, too but maybe with the bulldozer.
Don t get me wrong Alex is very likable and not a wuss at all There isn t really insta love in this book and thank you Jesus and Mike Mullin for that.
Now for that frigging disaster This one actually scared me This could happen My little mind can t deal with that kind of shit I know signs would be placed up for people like me.