Ashen Winter by Mike Mullins #YoungDelight

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullins #YoungDelightAshen Winter by Mike Mullins

Series: #2 Ashfall
Genres: YA Dystopian
Published by Tanglewood on October 9, 2012
Pages: 582
Format: eBook
Buy: Amazon
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I waited a terribly long time between reading the first book, Ashfall, and this second book in the trilogy, Ashen Winter.  I was slightly worried that I’d have forgotten where things left off.  But this one jumped in with a big opening scene and I was immediately right back in the thick of things for Alex, Darla, and the others who have survived a super volcanic eruption of Yellowstone and sent their world into volcanic winter.  They survived the eruption and the aftermath now they also have human dangers.

Ashen Winter is book two in a trilogy and I strongly advice getting it in order as it continues the story begun in the previous book.

Because this is a continuation, I will not be able to help some spoilers for the previous book so keep that in mind if you choose to proceed.

The story opens with Alex and Darla along with his uncle, aunt, and cousins fighting off an attack from a roving band of scavengers and thieves.  In the aftermath, Alex discovers his dad’s shotgun in the hands of one of their attackers.  His parents had left Illinois and gone back to Iowa looking for him, but have been gone a long time.  It’s dangerous to be out in the cold, the ash snow, the stripped land with powerful criminal gangs and almost equally dangerous FEMA workers who put free roaming people into the bleak camps.  He had to know what has become of his parents now that his dad’s gun has been found.

Alex and Darla head out on their bike sled, Bikezilla, with the pack of supplies and trade goods needed to track the roving gang and get answers.  The trail is thin and fraught with danger.  The situation in the zone most affected by the volcanic eruption has grown worse with cannibals, slavers, and the like on the loose and the merc agencies and FEMA soldiers more organized.  The government seems to be taking a hands off approach to the disaster area so they are on their own.

But then the worst happens and the pair are torn apart by the strongest most ruthless gang.  Alex must now rescue Darla and find his parents while avoiding capture in his own right.

Just as I noted before with Ashfall, I thought the author did a great job not only of describing the natural conditions following a super-volcanic eruption, but also the physical and social changes that would occur.  People are reverting back to what they were thousands of years before when survival of the fittest wasn’t just a phrase in a textbook.  Darla’s inventor mind and survivalist lore knowledge is paired with Alex’s knowledge of self-defense and strategy.  They go through some tough situations that would break most people.

There is so much action and tight suspense situations that this book had me holding my breath and flipping pages fast.  Alex narrates the story and he makes for a great main character with his flaws and strengths, but great determination to do right.  He is a natural hero-type and wants to save and rescue almost everyone he comes across.  He ends up rescuing a girl and her brother who is autistic while he is searching for Darla.  They made a nice band of friends.

On a side note, I thought the portrayal of Ben who has autism was sympathetic and well written.

The story ends on an ominous note and I will not be waiting as long as before to get the final installment of the story.

I can easily recommend the Ashfall trilogy to those who enjoy YA Post-Apocalyptic Romance with more emphasis on the action plot though not absent of character development.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • I love that cover. Sounds like a very interesting story. I’m always a little leary of YA, but I do like dystopians and I’ve had good luck with YA dystopians. I might have to give this one a try. Happy New Year!

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    • The covers are so reflective of the story. When I finished this one, I knew exactly what scene that was trying to convey.

      Yeah, I struggle with lots of YA, but I find I do alright with the dystopians because there is usually a more mature feel to the situation and characters. This one is really a survivalist style read and I really got into that part of the trilogy. Yeah, keep this series in mind because you might get into it based on what you’re saying.

  • Probably not the right book for me but glad you liked it.

    • Oh yeah, it was gripping for me and I can’t believe I waited so long to get back to the series.

  • Such a dark one and sounds good. The cover certainly matches the current season.

    • These are somewhat dark and get a tad squeamish, but it was a riveting story all told. Yes, the cover is bleak like winter for sure.

  • This sounds like a trilogy that I would really enjoy. I don’t think that I have read anything quite like it and it sounds like it would be pretty fast paced. Glad you enjoyed this one!

    • It’s very different even among all the plethora of other super disaster type stories. The author really worked hard at a pretty chilling and realistic what-if situation even while offering some great characters. Hope you get the chance, Carole!

  • I feel the same often when i read the last book in a series too long ago and it’s nice when a book is written in such a way that you’re easily reminded about what you left of and get sucked back into the series again. I don’t think this sounds like a book for me, too dark. But I do like how you describe the author got all the details right, from the physical to societal changes. Great review!

    • Oh yes, the first few chapters were kind to my memory so I was able to get back into it easily. Yeah, it gets pretty gritty and stark so not one for everybody. Definitely a nice speculation in what would really happen under such a disaster.