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Bending the Spine

Monday, June 6, 2011

Early Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)
Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.
Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.
Hardcover, 466 pages
Expected publication: October 11th 2011 by Tanglewood Press
ISBN13: 9781933718552
primary language: English
url: http://www.ashfallbook.com/
series: Ashfall #1
I don’t know where to begin with the review for this novel.  From my experience, an author’s first novel is not always his best.  Ashfall  by Mike Mullin is one of the few exceptions to this rule.  I have been completely blown away by this story.  I devoured this book, reading the mammoth 466 pages in just a couple of days.  I could not put it down!  Mullins writing style is reminiscent of Rick Riordan’s.  If you enjoy Riordan’s style, you will definitely enjoy Ashfall.

Alex is a typical teen and the right attitudes and undercurrents of parental-hostility and resentment are present.  Darla is a little more of a caricature, but not so far in left field to be unrealistic.  I instantly loved Mrs. Edmonds and Darla.  The other characters introduced throughout the story were colorful in their own rights, but realistic and believable at the same time.

On of my favorite parts of the first half of the book is when Alex and his friend Spork are invited to join a classmate’s church as they leave the wasteland that became the hometown of Cedar Falls.  I won’t give too much away, but I laughed out loud as this.

The book is action-packed from cover to cover and moved at a good pace.  I didn’t feel that the story was too long until the end, but I’ll save that critique for a little later.  It read as if you were experiencing the story as Alex, his thoughts became your thoughts, his pain your pain, his tears your tears.  There were, however, a few sections that felt rushed, to the point that I was sure that I had missed something and had to reread the section again.  It felt like there were gaps in places.  But, nonetheless it flowed  and never left me bored.

Now lets talk about my least favorite part of the book.  The ending.  I am usually let down in the end.  I most often feel slighted and that the author does not do their characters or their story justice.  Mullin strayed from this, but only in the fact that he droned on and on.  Several of the chapters toward the end of the book felt like fluff, to make the reader want to run out and wait (since it won’t be published until 2012) on the second installment in the series (I didn’t even realize this was a series until I read all the way through the end of my copy).  Shame on you editors!  A stand-alone with a sequel would have given the story much better integrity.  I didn’t crave a happily-ever-after ending, just one that brought closure.  Instead, you left it open.

All in all, this is a first rate novel from a first rate author.  Read it!

5 Stars: as much as is pains me to say this, I cannot wait until the sequel, Ashen Winter, is available in 2012!

Many Adventures,

*This pre-release was provided to my by the publishers through netGalley*


  1. Hi Richard,

    Thanks for taking the time to read and review ASHFALL. I'm glad you enjoyed it! You have me to blame for the ending, not my editor, though. I wonder if she'd let me send you the original ending? Let's just say that it was so bad that when I got The Call, she said something like, "I want to publish your book, but you have to rewrite the ending." So I did. Six times. I'm hard at work on the sequel--I hit 80,000 words today, so it's getting close. Thanks again! --Mike

  2. This sounds promising. Thanks for sharing your review.


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