by Mike Mullin

Genre: YA Post-Apoclyptic
Published: September 27th, 2011
by Tanglewood Press




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.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to seach for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.


Reminiscent of Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer and Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne (both of which I really enjoyed), Mike Mullin’s debut novel Ashfall was both a fascinating and frighteningly realistic post-apocalyptic tale.

Ashfall follows 15-year-old Alex, whose family decides to go on a weekend away in Illinois. Alex decides to stay home; thinking it will give him time to play video games. But a supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park erupts, sending the majority of the country in a thick blanket of ash, is forced to journey from his home in Iowa to Illinois.

What made Ashfall such an excellent novel was the realistic approach to the topic at hand. Mike Mullin obviously did his fair share of research on the topic, and it showed.

I think if I had any critique about Ashfall, it would be the beginning. Not that the beginning was bad by any means – it was actually quite enjoyable and entertaining – but nothing really happens until page 150.

All in all, Ashfall is a wonderful addition to the post-apocalyptic genre. While it isn’t quite up there with some of my other favorite post-apocalyptic stories (Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer and Monument 14 by Emmy Layborune) it is certainly a fabulous read nonetheless. The “what-if” feeling is certainly present throughout the course of the story, and you can’t help but want to stack up on food, water, and other survival tools.


36 thoughts on “Ashfall

  1. This book totally made me want to start gathering things for “the end of the world”. I think this book is my favorite post-apoc book so far (but I haven’t read Monument-14 or Life as We Knew It yet). I really liked the way the relationship was developed between Alex and Darla and I also loved how Darla was shown as so strong!! I love girl power like that 🙂 Great review… I love it when I see people reading this book 🙂

    1. Phew! Glad I wasn’t the only one! 😉 The romance was so great, right?! And yes…girl power for the win! 😉 Thanks so much Michelle!

  2. Awesome review! This was one of my favourite reads, the reactions of people just seemed so genuine and along with Life as we Knew It, it felt frighteningly realistic. I couldn’t agree more, before meeting Darla, it’s pretty boring.

    Have you read the Darla’s Story novella yet?

    1. Thanks so much Kelly! <3

      They are! I could just picture it - if a similar scenario were to happen in the future, it would probably be eerily similar to this! Yeah...the slow beginning kind of threw me off a tad, but it definitely gets better!

      And no...I haven't read them - yet! Are they good? 😀

  3. Wonderful review. Zoe! I saw a documentary speculating the absolute devastation that would happen if Yellowstone erupted and it scared the living daylights out of me! With that said, I’m always attracted to end of the world, or disaster type stories like this and this one sounds really good in spite of the slow start. 🙂

    1. It’s so scary, right?! Gah!

      End-of-the-world stories are always so addicting, and this one is no different! Let me know if you decide to read it, and, if you do, what you think! 😀

      Thanks Rachel! <3

  4. Yeah, so, this sounds great. I’ve had it for awhile, and I got it for the one of the major reasons you liked–a scarily realistic natural disaster occurs and a scarily realistic portrait of the aftermath is painted. I lol’d about you researching volcanoes 😉 Also–I’m glad for the warning about the slow beginning. Post-apocalypse/survivalist reads can be boring for me, so w/o the heads up, I very well might’ve tossed it aside. Lovely review, Zoe!

    ps–Kristen Wiig is my FAVORITE.

    1. 😉

      Yeah, I’m the same way…if a book doesn’t start out with a big “umph” – especially a Post-Apocalyptic book – I usually don’t end up liking it. I kept with this one because I had been previously warned about the slow beginning, so I guess I was somewhat prepared for it!

      Thank you Jessica! <3

      PS She's awesome, right? 😉

  5. It’s so weird…I’ve barely even heard about this series. I mean, I HAVE but I haven’t even had my interested piqued enough to see if the library has it. Huh. I should go see. 😉 I like the survival sort of stories! And n’awww some nice little buddy relationships going on there. Taekwondo (thank goodness for spellcheck on that one) is definitely a bonus-points-earning-thing. XD

    1. Yeah, it’s weird…this one has pretty much got ONLY 4 and 5 star reviews, so it is really surprising it hasn’t got much buzz despite the glowing reviews! (Literally…on Goodreads it only has 87 1-star reviews! That’s pretty impressive!) And yes…the romance was adorable!

      Definitely! 😉

  6. It’s true, the before (Darla) was a bit boring, but I stuck to it and really liked it by the end of the book. Then I picked up the rest of the books from the series and LOVED it overall. It was solid and very realistic that it scared the bejeesus out of me if it does happen in the future. Better stockpile food! (and other necessities!)

    1. Same! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who felt that way! I’m glad to hear that the rest of the series is a solid as this one – definitely going to have to finish it once I have a little extra time! I agree…it’s such a eerie and realistic book! It felt so plausible to me!

  7. This sounds really interesting, actually, and I like how it’s mostly realistic. It’s a bummer that the beginning is a bit slow, but I guess that happens in the first book of a series.

    1. Glad it sounds interesting to you Lauren! It’s always nice when a book is realistic! But, yeah, the slow beginning was a bit of a letdown, but, like you said, that’s usually the theme for first books in series.

  8. Can I just use this moment to say that when I read this series, I also found Alex too perfect and kind? Like seriously, you’re in a post-apocalyptic situation where every man is for himself out there. I wouldn’t mind sharing my resources, but not at my expense and only if I still have enough for myself to last a few more days! 🙁 Because of his carebear attitude, I found myself super frustrated because I know in a real life situation you would hardly see someone like that. When a supertyphoon hit the middle islands in my country, towns and cities there were ravaged, and 80% of the houses were obliterated. In the first few days, did you see anyone sharing and caring? No! They focused on their own survival first!

    Huff huff huff… okay, sorry, rant over.

    I agree with most of your points here, especially Darla! She’s so kick-ass! I loved her a lot.

    Also volcanoes are scary 🙁 I remember back in 2004, Mayon Volcano (a cone-shaped volcano near where I lived) violently erupted and triggered mudslides that buried towns and fields >_< In one town only one girl survived 🙁 For me they're one of the greatest forces of nature.

    Great review all the same! ^^

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

    1. LOL…I can definitely see where you’re coming from! There’s kindness and then there’s…kindness, ya know? And oh my goodness…that’s horrible! 🙁

      Yeah for Darla, right? 😉

      I lived in Tornado Alley in the United States for most of my life, but now I live in California, which is pretty earthquake prone to say the least, but I’ve never really had any firsthand experience with volcanoes, but from your story they sound terrible!

      Thank you for sharing your experiences Faye! It’s always great to hear from someone who has experience with the topic of the book!

  9. Awesome review Zoe, I’ve had this on my radar since a Q&A with the author but man, you make it sound SO good! I love the slowly developing romance, obviously there is a lot of world building, character development, explanation into how the apocalypse happens, pretty much perfect.

  10. Wonderful review Zoe. Ashfall has always been at the back of my mind, and I’ve just never picked up a copy. Not sure if it’s even out in Australia! Haha. Alex sounds like a pretty awesome character, but I agree, I can’t see anyone being overly kind in an apocalyptic world. But at least he has some great traits! This sounds like such an interesting book, and I’m excited to read about a realistically developed relationship. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on it! <3 <3

    1. Thanks Joy! <3 Haha!

      He's definitely a good character, even if he is a little over-the-top sometimes, but at least he's over-the-top with good traits, right? 😉 So glad it sounds like something you’d enjoy!

      Thank you for always leaving such lovely comments! They always make my day! <3

  11. Books like this make me glad I only drink bottled water, because it means I’m already all stocked up in case of emergencies haha.

    I’m quite shocked this book hasn’t been on my radar before today! I love disaster books and think they’re so gritty and when they’re done right, holy hell are they frightening.

    Such an amazing review, Zoe!

    1. LOL…me too! 😉

      Yeah, it’s weird…this one has pretty much got ONLY 4 and 5 star reviews, so it is really surprising it hasn’t got much buzz despite the glowing reviews! (Literally…on Goodreads it only has 87 1-star reviews! That’s pretty impressive!) I love post-apocalyptic books as well – especially when they deal with natural disasters because they’re so frightening!

      Thanks Allie! <3

  12. What a super review. I am so glad you stuck to reading the book, seeing the beginning was so slow, but after page l50 it came to life and was a book no one should miss reading because all that takes place. Another book I feel would be one I would find thrilling. Looks like you are finding some excellent reading.

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