Ashfall by Mike Mullin


Alex, just 15 years old, is separated from his family when the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park erupts.  They were on their way to visit family in Illinois;  angry with them, he remained home in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  Even though he’s 900 miles away from the event, his hometown is plunged into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and horrendous noise.  900 miles!  The magnitude of the disaster shakes him out of his sulk — he hopes that his family made it safely to his uncle’s farm but there’s no way to know.  Ash gets into everything and thick drifts of it cover the landscape — cars aren’t running, there’s no cell phone reception, there’s no power, there’s no water.  It doesn’t take long for society to disintegrate and desperation soon leads to violence in his hometown.  With no end in sight, Alex sets off on foot to look for his family.  It’s a harrowing trek but along the way, he teams up with another teen, Darla.  Between his Tae Kwon Do skills and her mechanical aptitude, their progress on this difficult journey is believable.

Based on scientific fact — yes, there is a supervolcano below Yellowstone — this is an interesting read.  Although well-drawn, I had some difficulty connecting with Alex but then he’s a teen boy who had a rebellious streak before the disaster — I didn’t cause my dad much grief until I went to college.


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