Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ashen Winter - Mike Mullin

Title: Ashen Winter (sequel to Ashfall)
Author: Mike Mullin
Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing, 2013 (Hardcover)
Length: 567 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Apocalyptic Fiction/Dystopian Fiction
Started: June 8, 2013
Finished: June 10, 2013

From the inside cover:

It's been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone super volcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex's relatives, trying to cope with the new relativity of the dark, cold, and primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this trilogy.

It's also been six months of waiting for Alex's parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they 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.

After reading Ashfall earlier this year and loving it, I knew I had to check out the rest of the trilogy. Luckily for me, Ashen Winter came out soon afterwards, and I was not disappointed.

Ashen Winter picks up several months after Alex and Darla arrive at his aunt and uncle's farm in Illinois, so close to a year after the Yellowstone volcano erupted. When the farm is attacked by bandits brandishing Alex's father's unique rifle, he and Darla head back to Iowa to find them. After a number of events that eventually bring them back to the farm, the group is faced with protecting their community from bandits.

In a way this was obviously a different novel from Ashfall because the apocalyptic events have already passed and now we see more of the post-apocalyptic and dystopian elements. This made it definitely action-packed, but not quite as suspenseful or edge-of-your-seat feeling like I felt while reading Ashfall.  Ashen Winter was still good, don't get me wrong, it's just a different kind of good. It's interesting to see how the surviving communities govern themselves and exactly what commodities are necessary and valued in a post-apocalyptic world.

This novel is definitely what I call a bridge novel (what I call a typical 2nd book in a trilogy that doesn't have the excitement of the beginning or end instalments and falls flat slightly), so I'm looking forward to the final novel when is comes out next year.

If you enjoyed Ashfall, you'll enjoy Ashen Winter. There's a lot of squicky territory here just like in the first novel, like cannibalism and trading women as sex slaves, so you might want to know that in advance if you've got a younger or more sensitive reader.

Thoughts on the cover:
I like the continuity from the first novel cover, and how the symbol of the separated hands over Alex's scarf actually makes sense after reading. I mostly enjoy how this looks like an adult cover and not like your typical YA fare at all.

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