Ashfall by Mike Mullin

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Plot

The volcano apocalypse has come and sixteen year old Alex is completely unprepared; the whole world is.

After a volcano in Yellowstone National Park goes off, Alex is left trying to figure out what to do in a world filled with ash. To survive, he starts a trek to find his parents and sister who are hours away visiting family. Along the way he finds out what people are willing to do to survive a natural disaster. But more importantly, he finds out what he’s willing to do to say alive.

Themes

I don’t think that most people realize that young adult books actually deal with adult themes and that sometimes the only difference between YA and adult is the age of the main character. In Ashfall there’s murder, rape, looting, refugee camps, cannibalism, starvation, gangs, sex, and a lot more that I can’t immediately list. Author Mike Mullin really goes for all the different ways that society can react badly to a natural disaster. Sure, there’s some kindness along the way but Mullin doesn’t sugar coat the natural disaster.

What I Like

What I really like about this book is that Darla isn’t a weak character. In a lot of ways she’s more competent than Alex because of her upbringing. She knows how to fix machines, slaughter animals, and she really plays a key part in their survival. I also really like the transformation in Alex. In the beginning he’s just a normal teenager who would rather spend a weekend playing video games than going with his family to see relatives for the weekend. By the end he’s killed, seen death by starvation and death by baseball bat, he’s learned how to gut animals, and learned about people and himself.

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