Thursday, June 2, 2011

ARC Review: ASHFALL

The Book: ASHFALL
The Author: Mike Mullin
The Publisher: Tanglewood
The Release Date: October 14, 2011

Summary:
It's a little known fact that beneath the beauty of Yellowstone National Park lies a long-dormant super volcano.  Now, hibernation time is over, ended by a massive eruption, the most destructive in human history.

Alex Halprin just happens to be in the wrong place at the very worst of times, as his house--almost 900 miles from the eruption site--takes a hit from a piece of flying debris, the ceiling literally collapsing on his head.  Seeking refuge with a neighbor, Alex soon learns that he is not only the casualty of a house fire, but one of millions now in the fight for his life in the ensuing volcanic winter.

Separated from his family just before the blast, Alex slips out into the ASHFALL and embarks on a journey to be reunited with his parents and sister.  The usually easy, short trip to his uncle's home in Illinois where his family had gone turns into a long, arduous quest, the road fraught with peril, both from the elements and others he meets along the way.

My Take:
You know how cable stations like Discovery, Nat Geo, and even the History Channel will have weekend-long marathons of documentaries regarding the state of the world, and how even just a one degree shift in global temperature can destroy the earth...or those ones about how earthquakes, tsunamis, cataclysmic hurricanes, and yes, VOLCANOES can end life as we know it in the blink of an eye, and then you're hiding in your laundry room because it's the only interior room in your house and you're convinced there is no other safe place to be holed up?  Yes, I am that kind of freak.

This is pretty much how ASHFALL left me.  From the very beginning, the action dragged me into Alex's panic-filled world.  So much was going on that I was just as frightened and confused as he was.  I mean, I knew the premise of the novel before I started reading, and so I knew that Yellowstone had erupted, but even so, I was like, "OH MY GOD! WHAT IS HAPPENING!?!?" right along with Alex.

Then, when Alex left Darren's house, I was completely with him.  Without giving away spoilers (even though this happens relatively early in the book), I will just say that if I had been in his place, I'd have been horrified at the what happened there, too.  And, once on the road, the reader is propelled along with every slide of Alex's skis as he traverses the state in search of his family.  We feel the sames fears, hopes, and distrust that Alex does, and it keeps us not only reading but riveted to the perils this young man faces which include but are not limited to: breathing in poisonous ash, the bitter cold of a volcanic winter, severe shortages of food and water, and not to mention harm from other people, just as desperate to survive as he is.

A treacherous journey fraught with fear, anger, hurt, love, and hope, ASHFALL will suck you in, bleed you dry, and spit you back out again but you'll hunger for more when it's all over.