Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ashfall - a review

Ashfall
Mike Mullin
476 pages


There was a point in the 90s where I became--as a teen--very aware of the threat of nuclear war. It bothered me. It depressed me. At any moment there could be a brilliant flash of light and BAM! I'm a bunch of dust in the wind. What The Day After* did for me as a teen Ashfall has done for me as a twentysomething.

It has made me completely paranoid about supervolcanoes.

Alex is left at home by his parents one weekend. He doesn't have to fight off burglars ala Home Alone style--well, actually he does at one point but with Kung Fu--but that's when the supervolcano in Yellowstone erupts. Causing chaos and destruction across America. Alex sets off to find his parents in another state. Along the way he meets up with Darla and the two go on an adventure that is mildly depressing.

I use the term mildly depressing because HOLY FUCK this book is MILDLY DEPRESSING. You think your people in The Hunger Games are starving? Think again. You think your bad guys in The Knife of Never Letting Go are bad? Think again. You think your cutesy little love stories from Sarah Dessen novels are complicated? Think again.

The trend that I've noticed recently in Young Adult literature is a move towards more darkness--even without a cloud of ash this book would be dark. There are things in here that belong in Cormac McCarthy's The Road.** There are things in here that are pulled straight from infuriating headlines of a hurricane incident circa 2006. There's also death, death, more death, rape, death rape, dying children, and exploding eyeballs.

I'm not aware that Mike Mullin intended for his books' message to be: no one gives a frak about you, you have to take care of yourself and your own, but that's what I got. Also, don't trust the government, fall in love when you can, and make sure you know how to gut a pig. I think that's about right.

Full Disclosure: I read this on my Kindle.
*I still have a fear of this scenario.
**I did not like The Road. Too dark. Ashfall? Just right.
Note: Alex does know kung-fu. There are parts where it's really cool, but other times hokey. I approve.
Extra note: I spent an entire weekend watching supervolcano documentaries on Netflix after reading this book. 

13 comments:

  1. I read it last week. I'll have nightmares until I die.

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    1. I have been expecting some kind of a nightmare but none have happened yet. I have developed an obsession with supervolcanoes, though.

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    2. I'm just glad I live in Australia... as faaaar away from it as possible.

      Also, it's books like these that make me want to hide under my blankets rather than go travelling.

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  2. When I first started reading this book I remember my jaw dropping from how detailed and gritty it seemed. There's one part where Alex gets injured that I remember feeling honest to god empathic pain.
    I'm not sure how the sequel is going to go but I am excited for more of Mike Mullins writing

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    Replies
    1. It was mostly the animal gutting that got to me. Especially the parts about the pigs.

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  3. I don't think I'm allowed to read this. After reading Life As We Knew It, I freaked about our household disaster preparedness. Of course, I've since been distracted and we have no stockpiles.. Maybe I NEED to read this.

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    1. If you get paranoid after reading disaster books I would not recommend this. Especially ones that bring up FEMA's lack of preparedness.

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  4. Hahaha, I grew up just outside of Yellowstone, and I still tell my boyfriend that we need to move back so that we'll die quickly and easily when it blows vs. like the characters in this book. I still need to read this, especially since I have a copy of the sequel!

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    1. I think I'd rather just be in the blast zone. I know nothing about farming or firearms to save me. I can, however, punch people really really hard. How far that I will get me I have no idea.

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  5. How did I miss this? I blame you.

    I still need to read this and book two. Like, really bad. Oddly enough, your talk of mildly depressing and dark and stuff make me want to read it even more, like now even. Why do I like all the dark stuff? I don't know.

    Also, I really loved The Road.

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    Replies
    1. Well, it's not relationship/dead parent dark stuff. It's the gooey kind of dark stuff.

      I hated The Road.

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  6. I think I own a copy of this but I'd have to look again. It sounds like something I'd enjoy though. Great review!

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