Title: Ashfall (Ashfall #1)
Author: Mike Mullin
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Release date: September 27th 2011
Buy it at: Amazon | B&N | BookDepository
Read first chapters here
Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying super volcano, 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 super volcano 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.
Alex Halprin is a teenage boy from Iowa, who is really happy that his family leave him at home for the weekend, he plans to play video games and hang out with friends instead of being bored at his uncle's farm in Warren, Illinois. Hours after his family left, the disaster begins, power goes out, and a deafening noise begins that lasts for hours, then the ash begins to fall over the city and they heard on the radio before losing the signal that Yellowstone super volcano over 900 miles from Iowa erupted.
Then comes the chaos, the city is not safe and Alex can only think of one thing find his family, so he embarks on a journey to get to Warren, Illinois that regularly is a 2 hour trip by car but the ash disabled the vehicles so Alex must walk to get there. What normally would have been a two hour trip turns into a long, dangerous and he must fight to reach his destination alive.
Alex is 15 years old and during his journey turns 16, he has a good heart, is compassionate, impulsive, is a city boy, a black belt in Taekwondo which comes handy on his journey (I need to learn self-defense), he encounters with Darla in his journey a young girl who helps him and accompanies him the rest of the trip. Darla is a very strong girl emotionally and physically, is practical, determined, very good for all kinds of mechanical and manual labor because she has helped her whole life with her family farm. Both end up complementing and helping each other during the trip. My favorite character in this book is definitely Darla, she´s my new hero.
Ashfall is a book where a natural disaster affecting much of the United States, which in my view is not a post apocalyptic book as it only affects a certain part of the country, but it definitely feels like it was apocalyptic. The world as the protagonists knew it has changed completely, as there is no electricity, water, food is scarce and is a violent world where only the strongest survive (and the one that have a weapon).
I loved Ashfall, the story is very realistic, believable, frightening, chilling and violent (though thankfully is not very graphic but definitely the violence is implied), the book caught me from the first chapter. I highly recommended this book if you like the post-apocalyptic books.
The book begins with a quote from Will Durant that I loved: "Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice."
That whiff of smoke was enough to transform my sit-here-trembling terror into get-the-hell-out-of-here terror.
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.