Author: Mike Mullin
Publication Date: October 2011
Goodreads Summary: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 planet.
Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.
Ashfall had me hooked from the first page. I can’t wait to read the sequel and anything else that Mike Mullin publishes. As his first book this is a winner. Alex, a young teenager, is left alone while his parents visit his uncle about 140 miles away. You can tell right away that Alex is a kid that loves his video games and is going through that teenage stage where he believes parents are never right. A couple pages into the book is when the action starts. Usually a book takes a little while to get going. Ashfall was going from the start. The progress of Alex going from his hometown in Cedar Falls to his uncle’s home in Warren is rough and forces Alex to do a lot of growing up. Along the way he meets Darla. Darla and her mom help Alex when he is hurt. They take him in and get him back on his feet. Tragedy happens and Darla has to leave her home with Alex. Along the way they meet people out to hurt them and others, but they also meet people just trying to survive and willing to help. It is a strong story that is in every way believable.
In no way am I a scientist on the subject of super volcanoes, but Ashfall seems very believable nonetheless. It left me thinking and wanting to research all aspects of Yellowstone and the possibilities of the threat that Alex faced. I want to stockpile food and necessities in my home in case this happens to us (going a little overboard?).
There are some issues with the age group that the story is aimed toward. Ages 12 and up seems a little young with some of the events that take place in Ashfall. Having an almost 12 year old, this is not something I would allow her to read. Rape, murder, starvation, cannibalism, sexual situations (though not that bad and sometimes just mentioned in passing) are all involved in the story. There is one scene in the story which describes the killing and skinning of a rabbit in very fine detail. There is another scene in the story that describes the butchering of a pig. With these things in mind, this is a story for older young adults.