Thursday, February 21, 2013
Ashfall by Mike Mullin
466 pages, YA Dystopian
My rating: 5 stars
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 2 cents
I read this book about 2 weeks ago and its really stayed with me since then. I don't know that is because most of the story takes place in my home state, Iowa, or just because it was so gripping. Probably both. This author either lived in Iowa for a time, or really did his research! The people, the landscape, the attitudes, the resourcefulness...it was all dead on!
So Alex lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa. His parents and sister go away for the weekend to his uncle's house in Illinois about a 4 hour drive. Not too long after they have left, the supervolcano erupts. At first, no one knows what is going on. A chunk of rock flying at supersonic speeds crashes into Alex's house. He feels the ground shake, like an earthquake, and then the entire house kind of caves in. He manages to get out of the house without catching on fire, and his neighbors across the street are there. He asks if they have called 911, and they say the phone lines are down in the neighborhood, and they can't get cell phone reception. So Alex runs off for the fire department which is about 6 block away. He notices that all the traffic lights aren't working.
This all happens in about the first 10 pages of the book. And its just chaos from there on out. Most of the story is Alex trying to get to his uncle's house to find his family. Civilization as we know it has basically shut down. The ash gets so heavy it collapses roofs. In his hometown, anyone that's still alive is at the high school, sleeping in the gym. Food starts to run out, and there is no water. Its hard to even walk in the ash, its like dragging your feet through really thick mud or wet concrete. Alex figures out its not too hard to do in cross country skis. So off he goes!
Along the way, he spends most of his time just trying to survive. Out in the country, he runs into all kinds of trouble, from finding food, water, and shelter, to trying to keep away from other crazy people who are after any resources at all. He ends up in big trouble, and finds Darla and her mother's farm. Darla is a resourceful 4Her who specialized in vet medicine, rabbits, and machinery. She was one of the most awesome heriones I have read. She was one tough cookie!
Like I said before, the story felt very real. I had no trouble picturing any of it. My only problem with the book was the ending. It just kind of ends. It left things wide open for the next book, but I didn't feel any sort of closure with the story itself. But overall, this was a gripping, harrowing story and I can't wait to read the next book!