Ashfall by Mike Mullin

I must admit, I have been on something of a dystopian kick lately. I’ve been reading tons of fiction about the end of the world brought about by zombies, asteroids, war and my latest–the supervolcano. Many people, me included, don’t realize that the hot springs and geysers at Yellowstone National Park are caused by an underlying supervolcano that has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years. A supervolcano eruption would be a world-wide catastrophe. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Ashfall by Mike Mullin is so poignant. His dystopia feels real.

Ashfall begins with 15-year-old Alex opting out of a weekend trip with his family to his uncle’s farm in rural Illinois. What begins as a typical weekend in the suburbs quickly turns into a nightmare, when a mysterious explosion rips the roof off of Alex’s house. Alex escapes unharmed and is taken in by his next-door neighbors where they spend a terrifying night huddled in the bathroom trying to figure out what is happening outside. The next morning Alex and his neighbors discover that a supervolcano has erupted, cutting off all forms of communication and plunging the world into ash. Determined to find his parents and sister, Alex begins a treacherous journey across the state and that’s when things start to get really intense.

The first few chapters of Ashfall are some of the most gripping that I have read in any dystopian novel, including The Hunger Games. Alex’s struggle to reach his family is harrowing as he faces starvation, extreme weather and bandits. This is certainly not a book for the faint of heart. I’m very much looking forward to the sequel Ashen Winter, coming out this month!

Review by Maddie, CLP-Squirrel Hill

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