Man, I hate trilogies. Trilogies mean you fall in love with characters, watch them grow, share in their lives and then they leave you. Forever. That said, I LOVED the Ashfall Trilogy. I was honored to receive an advanced copy of Sunrise for review and highly encourage you to buy this one when it is released. And if you haven’t had the opportunity to read the first two (reviewed earlier in this blog), run out and get those read now.
This is a realistic post apocalyptic series where bad things happen to good (and bad) people. It is classified as young adult fiction, but as an almost 50 year old I can promise you the material is written for adults as well. Mullin has the ability to present young characters without dumbing them down or making the dialogue and subject matter boring to older readers. I especially thought that this third book, Sunrise, presented ageless characters rather than the “innocent” teens we met in book one.
The premise behind the series is the eruption of the supervolcano Yellowstone and the chaos which quickly ensues. As society breaks down, small groups form, the remaining government becomes as evil as you can imagine in a world without controls and heroes arise. Book one introduced us to our two main characters, young teens Alex and Darla. Immediately it is clear Alex is pretty naive and Darla is a well-prepared brain for this new world. Watching the evolution of these two as Alex matures and rises to leadership, and Darla is crucial not only for her engineering skills but also as a level-headed partner for Alex, was interesting as a reader. I found myself totally able to see how this new world either makes you or breaks you.
As I spent two nights awake reading and reading because Mullin writes books which can’t be left on the bedside table once begun, I found myself getting angry. As I said earlier, bad things happen to good people. Several times in this final book, I found myself very mad at Mullin. Just absolutely astonished at some of the turns taken for my two friends. But then I realized, wow. Mullin is good. He made me angry because first he made me care. I love these two teens. I was invested in their future and I wanted rainbows and unicorns. But in a post apocalyptic future, rainbows and unicorns are the first things to die.
The worst part of the book Sunrise is that it ended. Knowing this was the final part of the story is sad for a fan and I’m hoping that perhaps one day…..maybe….book four???? Please.
I stumbled on this great new series, Ashfall Trilogy, a few weeks ago and was so pleased that the second book, Ashen Winter, was already waiting for me at the end of book one. Sadly, book three won’t be out for months.
Mullin’s tale involves a world devastated by a super-volcano in Yellowstone. His two main characters, Alex and Darla, are older teens who not only rise to the occasion, but show pretty awesome survival skills in a world gone mad. This is an action packed tale where man not only battles the environment and circumstances surrounding them in a world covered by ash, but also must overcome the expected decay of civilization which happens quickly. What I was struck by is the growth of Alex in this 6 months time. It felt realistic and believable.
As an adult reading YA material, sometimes the dialogue can feel stilted, or the characters stereotypical. Mullin has mastered the art of writing a YA book which crosses the age gap. Not only should teens find this material worthwhile, but it is crafted in such a way as to capture adults who appreciate dystopian fiction.
As a reader I also breathed a sigh of relief that book 2 was as good as book 1. I often find in a trilogy that book 1 sets the stage, introduces the characters and runs at full force to engage the reader. Book 3 is the culmination of all the action, suspense and drama for the characters we have come to love. Typically, for me, book 2 is just the time filler between those two dramatic events. Not so with Ashen Winter. This one also kept me up reading and reading and grateful to have found a new favorite author.
The worst part of Mullin’s young adult novel “Ashfall” is I stayed up through the night to keep reading and reading. To an author, I bet that criticism is praise to his ears.
Set in modern times, this post apocalyptic tale takes place following the eruption of a super-volcano under Yellowstone National Park. All the book seemed believable, but the introduction was especially engrossing and set the tone for an exciting, realistic vision of a young teen who must survive in a world full of falling ash, endless days of gloom, little food and mankind which easily turns on one another in the face of crisis.
You know how in every horror movie a character will knock out a villain, turn their back and the villain gets up and finishes his attack? How many times have you screamed – hit him again dummy??? Mullin has created characters who are not silly. They encounter a bad guy and are in danger – they finish off the bad guy. This felt so much more realistic and made the now dangerous world come to life for the reader.
As with most non-zombie apocalyptic books, my favorite parts involve the lengths one must go to ensure survival: finding food, securing weapons, procuring supplies to be used now that the chain of distribution has collapsed. Perhaps it is my years of being a Pepco electric customer ( http://www.wjla.com/articles/2012/07/pepco-most-hated-company-in-america-comes-under-fire-for-outages-77648.html ) who routinely loses power for multiple days, but I love the orderliness of making a plan and working it. Despite living within miles of the United States President, when we get strong gusts of wind, our neighborhood power ceases and may be out as long as a week. When I hear of an impending storm, I begin my own preparations: wash and put away all laundry, run dishwasher, clean house so we don’t trip in the dark over all the junk, fresh batteries, flashlights, freeze the food in hopes it will last longer, and on and on. I was built to live in the apocalypse.