I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
Series: Ashfall #2
Published by Tanglewood Press on October 9, 2012
Also by this author: Ashfall, Sunrise
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.
“If we’re going to die anyway, I want to die with you. And if we live, I want to live with you.”
Ashfall was one of my favorite reads of 2011 and after reading was promptly added to my Goodreads shelf ‘full-of-wonderful’ so suffice it to say I was pretty ecstatic to finally get my hands on the follow-up story. I don’t go all fangirl often but fangirl I did for Ashen Winter.
The story of Alex and Darla and the search for his parents in the harsh winter world the planet has transformed into continues! Ashen Winter maintained authenticity despite the crazy (and at times incredibly creepy) things that occurred. With the transformation of the world, the people that managed to survive begin resorting to any method to maintain their existence including cannibalism and human slavery. Was it pretty? Heck no. Was it jaw dropping at times? Oh yes. Did it fit completely with the horrible state of the world? Absolutely. Mike Mullin’s has created a dystopian world that really manages to get under your skin because of how unnervingly realistic it all is.
The characters continue to develop well and I still love Darla to death. Darla is the brains of operation ‘survival. Alex totally would have been a goner months ago without Darla there to save his ass. She’s the one that gets things done. She’s a total badass and she’s not even trying. She’s a powerful and strong-willed character that you can’t help but admire. And… that’s the reason for my 4 star review (compared to my 5 star review of Ashfall). Darla wasn’t even introduced in Ashfall until mid-way through the book or so but I had no idea what an integral part of the story she had become until she wasn’t there. No spoilers but it’s mostly Alex for the vast majority of the book and Darla was sorely missed. I think that even though I didn’t agree at the time, in retrospect I think it was important for Alex to go through what he did alone since it really helped him grow as a character. A few new characters are introduced that I quite liked but they were certainly no Darla. Fingers crossed for more Darla-time in book 3.
Thrilling and action-packed, Ashen Winter was a fantastic follow-up that fans of Ashfall will enjoy (even though admittedly it does have a teensy bit of middle-book syndrome, but honestly, I don’t think that can be helped. I personally think it’s the mentality that readers have (I know I’m guilty), knowing that there is only one book left since it’s a trilogy we want the conclusion and we want it now, dangit!). But regardless! I’m a huge fan and cannot wait for the final conclusion.
(Hey Mike – Don’t kill Darla, please. Thanks. –Your Biggest Fan)