Unputtdownable, edge of your seat dystopian

Ashfall - Mike Mullin

Opening Line: "I was home on that Friday evening. Those ho survived know exactly which Friday I mean."


Well this was super good. I picked up Ashfall and literally didn’t stop reading for about 80 pages. I mean I didn’t even move from where I was standing. The opening chapters are just unputtdownable, with each ending on a note like; “then the explosions started” or “I took off running” and “When she pried the flap of flesh open with her pocketknife, I screamed and passed out” so that you just have to keep reading.

In fact the entire book is one awesome and fairly disturbing adrenaline ride. Following 16 year old Alex who has been left alone for the weekend while his parents visit family out of state (yay) His plans include, sleeping in, playing World of Warcraft and not having to deal with his stupid sister and Mum’s constant nagging.

Then the supervolcano erupts, sending a chunk of rock through the roof of his house and spewing endless ash, darkness and winter into the skies. It’s an epic disaster and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as the deafening eruptions stop and Alex manages to climb out of his neighbors bathtub, oh and witness a guy being shot in the head he begins his trek to find his family. With a backpack a few taekwondo moves and his dad’s old skies he sets out on a harrowing journey.

Within days it feels like the world (and the reader) has been plunged back in time. In chapter 1 he’s playing video games, by chapter 17 he’s been attacked by a psycho with an axe and is recovering on a farm, learning how to butcher meat, tan hides and grind corn. Its survival of the strongest and smartest in this new world and no one (especially FEMA) is to be trusted. Jeez that camp….

When Alex leaves the farm he takes the amazing Darla with him, she’s a kickass heroine who I ended up liking just as much as Alex. Together they’re kinda unstoppable and very sweet. Along the way Alex does make a couple of really dumb decisions –not to the fault of, but with kudos to the author. I got so angry with him -are you crazy, giving away your meager supplies to that woman and her kids, its every man for himself out here. To me this was a sign of good writing and that I was way into the story.

Alex’s character goes through massive changes in the months that follow, so that by the end we see a man, not a teen, changed forever by horrific events. The evolution is so subtle you’re not even aware it’s happened.

I couldn’t help but compare this book to Life As We Knew It –which is also an excellent read and took me ages to recover from. They’ve both left me stockpiling food (gin) and supplies, hungry and very, very cold. Cheers.