Between the Bookcovers

Blogging About the Books I Read

Author:  Michael Mullin
Published:  September 27, 2011
Pages:  476
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:
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.


Alex is a normal teen who hates visiting his uncle so much that his parents agree to leave him home by himself for the weekend. Soon after a super volcano erupts, changing his world to a dark, ash filled moonscape where the survival is an everyday struggle

There are an abundance of post apocalyptic YA books out there but few provide the impact of Ashfall. Mulligan has provided a realistic and terrifying book that starts with a bang that will leave you breathless until the last page is turned and keep you thinking for days afterward.  The world he created is dark with glimmers of hope and a powerful message about the choices people make when faced with disaster. There are no supernatural beings or man eating zombies here. There is no need; the way man changes when survival is uncertain are scarier than any imaginary beings could ever be.

The story is told from Alex's point of view, a refreshing change. He is a typical teen who is realistic and imperfect. I came to care for him as he seeks his family and loved the way he changed and grew as the novel progressed. The other main character, Darla, is a smart, quirky farm girl with mechanical knowledge that she uses to problem solve. The relationship that develops between them is natural and believable, and the romance is understated and beautifully written.

There are many lessons learned here: life can change in the blink of an eye; society is fragile and can easily disintegrate in the wake of a large disaster; and difficult decisions have to be made when survival is on the line. One of my favorite quotes of the book:  "For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my spices. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles and our airplanes, but it hadn't taken our humanity. No, we'd given that up on our own."

This is a book that should not be missed. I raced through it and then came back later to reread it again. It will make you stop and think about how you would react in the same situation. And it made me want to prepare for a disaster so that I would have the resources available if society broke down and we had only ourselves to count on for survival.

This is the first of a planned trilogy. I and anxiously awaiting the next installment, due out in October 2012.

Rating: Do not miss this one! A powerful, realistic story that will leave you wanting more.

Note: I received this book from the publisher via NeyGalley for review but did not get any compensation for the review.

About This Blog

I review mostly Young Adult literature, any genre. I also review other fiction, especially horror, science fiction and historical novels. I also have occasional giveaways.