By: Mike Mullin
Published by: Tanglewood Publishing, Inc.
Run time…Oh, wait. I actually read this one.
Alex, 15, is alone in his Iowa home, when a low rumble precedes what he initially thinks is an earthquake. As he stands to look out the window, the lights go out and seconds later, the floor tilts. Alex is knocked about his room and when the house stops moving, he smells fire. He escapes his burning home and runs for help. But his isn’t the only house affected. The entire neighborhood is quiet. No cars are moving. No people are outside. He runs to the firehouse only to find they have no power, radio communication, or ideas what has happened.
And what has happened? The super volcano under Yellowstone National Park has erupted. Alex is alone. His family has gone to visit his Uncle in Illinois. Alex feels he has no choice and sets out to find them. 150 miles is a long distance and very dangerous when you’re on foot with the entire world covered in a thick blanket of ash, leaving people hungry, desperate, and afraid. Such situations often bring normal well-mannered people to act in very different ways.
Ashfall follows Alex on his journey in the post eruption world to find his family and his manhood.
A couple of things to note. I read this book. Read it. And I finished it relatively quickly, 2 days-ish, which means it was a fast read and kept me interested. Mixed with the emotions and experiences of traversing a new world, Mike Mullin has filled the book with facts about volcanic eruptions and the likely outcome if Yellowstone should blow its top. He has also included a fact section in the back detailing what we know about the Yellowstone Volcano and its likely eruption scenarios.
I met Mike at the Antioch Writers Workshop 2014. He is a charismatic, if not a somewhat spastic individual, with a knack for energizing young people. Believe me when I say he knows how to get your attention. He also knows how to get someone like me to want to read his book. I’d had no intention of buying the book when I went, but after hearing him perform the first few pages, I was hooked.
Were there parts of the book I disliked? I would have ended the book at chapter 52. Right then. This is book one of a trilogy and I haven’t read book two, I’m waiting for the audio version, but I think chapter 53 would be as perfect a beginning as chapter 52 an ending. My opinion.
Mike tells me there will be an audio version, because you all know I’d prefer to listen, but he’s not doing the narration. This comment is for his publisher.
As someone who loves and listens to a lot of audio books, there is nothing more energizing than listening to the author narrate. As for the fact that Mike is older than Alex is, the book is told in past tense. Alex’s voice does not need to be young. Trust me on this one. And should we talk about Mike’s enthusiasm? I’ve heard him. Kids are going to want to hear him. I want to hear the whole book read by him. (He did offer to come to my house and read it to me. We’re still working out the logistics on that one. I mostly listen at work.)
Would I recommend the book? Absolutely. I took the book to work and within a few minutes had two people ask if they could borrow it based on the back cover. Plus, when I mentioned the book to a few neighbor boys, they asked to read it. But trust me; this book has appeal to both boys and girls.
A little side note because as a parent I feel obligated. There is graphic violence. There is the mention of sex and condoms. Most importantly, there are repercussions to the violence, mental and physical, along with discussions about the sex and condoms.