Thursday, 8 August 2013

Review - Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin

Ashen Winter (Ashfall, #2)
Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
Series: Ashfall #2
Published by Tanglewood Press on October 16 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Post-Apocalyptic
Pages: 576
Rating: 3/5 stars

It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

I really don’t have much to say about Ashen Winter. After loving Ashfall when I read it last year, I had high hopes for Ashen Winter, but I don’t think that any of them were met. It was a quick read, which I appreciated, but for a book in which life and death are at stake, there never seemed to be any real sense of fear. I didn’t really feel any emotional connection like I did in Ashfall, which was really disappointing. I found Alex to be at times extremely single-minded and a rather frustrating protagonist, though I don’t remember having problems with him in the first book.

The catalyst of Ashen Winter is Alex and Darla’s separation – which was marvellously anticlimactically, might I add – when she gets shot and falls on top of a truck. Obviously those aren’t all of the details, but it’s the important stuff. I really needed Darla to keep my interest, but maybe it wasn’t the lack of Darla that bothered me so much. Even at the end of the book, when Alex and Darla are reunited, I found myself skimming long sections. I just wasn’t feeling it.

I did like the addition of the Alyssa and Ben characters, though sometimes Ben veered too close to being a caricature of an autistic kid and I hated the way that Darla immediately decided that she disliked Alyssa. Badass ladies need to stick together! The only character I was 100% behind was librarian extraordinaire Rita Mae. She can do no wrong in my eyes.

As a final note, I never want to hear or see the word ‘berm’ ever again.

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