Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Mike Mullin
Publication Date: October 11,2011
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Page Length: 466
Series: Ashfall #1
Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano, so large that the caldera can only be seen by plane or satellite. And by some scientific measurements, it could be overdue for an eruption.

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.


The Yellowstone Caldera, the sleeping giant, we've all heard about it before, but not many of us think about it in our daily lives. What if it woke up though? Worse, what if it erupted? Would you be prepared?

15 Year Old Alex is excited to be left alone for the weekend. No parents, no bratty sister, best of all no rules. Not that Alex had plans,the only thing that mattered was he was alone. Soon however, Alex would wish that wasn't the case because something is brewing under Yosemite, something that will change America's landscape for years, possibly decades to come. Now stuck hundreds of miles from his family, choking on the endless shower of ash, Alex alone and afraid must make his way across the ruined ash clogged wilderness in hopes of being reunited with his family.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin has no supernatural monsters, no epic battles of good vs. evil, and the story is far from happy. Then why did I love this book so much? The answers are quite simple:

1. You don't need battles of good vs. evil in cinematic chapter long battles when you have two characters as well written as Alex and Darla.

2. You don't need supernatural monsters when the human ones are terrifying enough. To quote Alex:

“For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my species. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn't taken our humanity. No, we'd given that up on our own.”

3. Disasters are never happy affairs in real life,so why would should I expect things to be all rainbows and sunshine in a book about one? I wouldn't nor should you.

One thing that kept me grounded in reality was the characters humanity. In the face of such insurmountable odds it would be easy for the characters to give up and lose hope or their morals in the struggle to survive. Yet, Alex's moral compass stays true, his will to live so strong that even in the face of adversity he doesn't falter, spurred on by his need to see his family once more. Then of course you have Darla, she is quite possibly one of my favorite surprises about this book. Darla isn't your average female. She works on cars, gets her hands dirty, and is witty,cunning, and clever. She held her own against Alex and never once apologized for being as strong, if not stronger than him. I could relate to Darla, she worked hard, lived harder, yet when her world crumbles down around her she doesn't breakdown, she plunges on, realizing that she still has a life worth living. Tears will come, grieving to, but not that moment. I really enjoyed her and can't wait to see more from her character in the next book.

I have only a few small gripes concerning Ashfall and I'll list those below.

1. Jack, enough said :( I can't help but think this was done out of pure maliciousness rather than a real threat.

2. Some scenes felt unnecessarily long. Yes, I get that the Author wanted to show the realism of the post eruption world but that doesn't change the fact that pages upon pages of them just slogging through ash is sorta boring to read about. In those moments I almost, let me stress ALMOST, felt compelled to skim ahead.

Overall Ashfall was a great read. Would I recommend it? Yes. However I also feel that this book isn't for everyone. Ashfall is brutal in parts, yet restrains from showing intimate moments, it is depressing, yet hopeful, it has action, then nothing but slow and steady dialogue for pages. All together it might frustrate some readers. Let's get this straight, I am not trying to dissuade any of you from reading this book, I am just merely stating the things I noticed that others might find frustrating as well. In the end the fantastic writing, combined with complex yet sympathetic characters leaves me rating Ashfall by Mike Mullin ★★★★.

*I purchased this book for my own collection. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any way for providing them.

Now for my questions:

Have you started this series? If not, Do you think you might? What would you do if the Yellowstone Caldera erupted? Let me know in the comments below, I love reading your responses!


  1. I love this series. Ashfall was a really great read. Thankfully I live far enough away from the Yellowstone Caldera that I'll be OK if it erupts! :)

    1. I hope if it ever did we'd be OK but I saw how far reaching the ash was in the book and I have no doubt it might be that bad in real life. I say I have a 50/50 shot of being mildly impacted.


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