Monday, October 15, 2012

Early Review - Ashen Winter (Ashfall, Book 2) by Mike Mullen (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Post-apocalyptic
Size: 594 pages
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Release Date: October 16, 2012
ISBN: 978-1933718750
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Ashfall series
Source: eGalley through
Rating: 4/5 stars

I got an eGalley of this book to review through NetGalley(dot)com. This is the second book in a planned trilogy. It was an excellent continuation of the series, but also starts bringing in more typical post-apocalyptic themes...think cannibalism.

It is six months after the horrible volcanic events that sent the world into a nuclear winter. During this time Darla and Alex have been make a life of sorts for themselves on Alex’s uncle’s farm. Darla and Alex leave the relative comfort of Alex's uncle's farm in an effort to find his parents.

The book is fast-paced, full of action, and hard to put down. It’s a lot about survival and, as with the previous book, mostly about humanity and surviving in bleak surroundings.

In this book a long winter has set in because of volcanic ash blocking out the sun. As temperatures plummet so do Alex’s hope of finding his parents. Then raiders come to their farm and one of them is carrying Alex’s dad’s rifle. Alex and Darla decide to track down the man to get info on Alex’s parents.

A couple great new characters are added to the story. One is a girl Darla’s age who has had to do things to survive that no girl should ever have to do. The other is her brother, an autistic genius, who is both a great help and a great challenge to deal with.

The book is well written and progresses at a breakneck pace. You are constantly put through emotional turmoil as the characters encounter one life-threatening situation after another. The characters in this book suffer, immensely, and every gory detail is there. So if you don’t like gore you might want to look elsewhere. There were a number of times when the characters were injured in ways that made me a bit queasy.

Alex and Darla are great characters, but there are times in this book when I want to smack Alex. He has a serious problem with charging into situations and it doesn’t improve in this book. He gets everyone almost killed a number of times and many of the horrible situations they end up in are because of his hot-headedness.

I do love that there is some humor in here. Also Alex and Darla truly seem to love and respect each other, their relationship adds some light to a very dark story.

Mostly the story is engaging and interesting but there was one thing that had me groaning in exasperation. Guess what that was? Yep, cannibals. I mean I guess it wouldn't be a good post-apocalyptic novel unless people were eating each other. But seriously, go we have to go there again? I swear everywhere I look people are eating each other in a post-apocalyptic earth. Seriously it’s an uncreative and overdone idea in these types of books. Some characters build greenhouses...but others well I guess it is just easier to eat each other sometimes....

Other than the above this is a very well done book. It is well written and incredibly engaging. There is action and gore, but also situations where the good aspects of humanity really shine. Some great new characters add a lot more to the story as well.

Overall a great read and a wonderful continuation of this story. Some great new characters and a very engaging plot. The surroundings are dark and depressing, but this is lightened with a solid and loving relationship between Darla and Alex and occasional humor. The story is not for the weak-stomached and the addition of cannibalism adds to the yucky factor. This is a well written and solid YA post-apocalyptic read that should appeal to both male and female readers. I definitely recommend this series to those who enjoy post-apocalyptic novels.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge

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