Ashfall by Mike Mullen

Fifteen-year-old Alex has won the war – he’s convinced his mother that he’s too old for family vacations, especially family vacations to his uncle’s house in Warren. Left behind, Alex looks forward to kicking back and geeking out over the next few days. He’ll even squeeze in some homework … maybe.

But disaster strikes, literally, only hours after his family leave him behind. Not sure what has crashed into his house, not what has caused the now blazing fire, Alex has two goals: get out safely and make sure his family are all safe. Alex gets out safe enough, with only mere bumps and bruises,  but getting out is only half the battle. What’s going on?

Radio reports are saying a super volcano  has erupted. Located under Yellowstone National Park the eruption has caused a nation-wide disaster. Power is out. Water is at an all time low. The sun hasn’t shown for days. And now thick, sulfur scented ash has been falling steadily, coating everything.

Thankfully, Alex doesn’t have to survive this on his own. Taken in by his neighbors, Alex has everything he needs – food, shelter, and water. Even though he’s without his family, this is the next best thing. That is, until his seemingly peaceful neighbors kill three looters. Terrified by the gore and violence – Alex runs far away from the violence and towards the safety of his family … wherever they are.

Ashfall written by debut author Mike Mullen will take readers on an adventure of high and lows, of hope and despair, of love and loss. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Mullen’s book stands out from other similarly themed books, being that Ashfall is told from the male perspective, and shows that even the strongest of strong men get scared.

It seems that a lot of end-of-the-world type stories are full of flesh-eating zombies or a world set so far in the future, war and environmental circumstances have led the world to ruins. But not Ashfall. The cause for this end-of-the-world like story is an unexpected natural disaster.

Even though Ashfall’s plot line may have been strong, but the overall writing was not. The issue was Mullen’s overly descriptive storytelling. It seemed that every single moment of Alex’s day was accounted for, from how many days he at salad for breakfast to every time he had to go to the bathroom. Often times description is a great thing, but if too much description seems like overkill. While Mullen’s descriptions can be appreciated, they more often than not make for a slower, longer read.

The shining light, for me, was main character Alex. Alex was not the kind of character to let fear rule his life and the situation. I really liked, not only his perspective of the events, but just how ingenious he was. For example, he knew that walking through the soggy ash was physically impossible. With some quick thinking Alex used a pair of skies to help get him off to a somewhat swifter start.

But Alex wasn’t enough to save Ashfall for me. Unfortunately, no matter how much I wished, this just wasn’t the book for me. It just wasn’t my kind of story. But that does not mean that it’s not the book or the read for others.


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