Review: Ashen Winter (Ashfall #2) by Mike Mullin

Author: Mike Mullin
Series: Ashfall #2
Genre: Post Apocalyptic, Survival, Young Adult
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Publication Date: October 16, 2012

It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and 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.

Ashen Winter is a book I had considerable high hopes for when I went into reading it.  I was a big fan of Ashfall and had been looking forward to reading it's sequel for awhile now. However, I think my expectations might of been set to high and here's why:

I don't know when it happened but Alex went from  a character I liked considerably to one I wanted to throttle each time he opened his mouth. Let me just say Alex's boy scout routine became old, fast. Literally every event could've been prevented had Alex done what was necessary vs. feeling as if he's morally obligated to keep the pos's who inhabit the Earth alive. I could sense Darla's frustration with him as I felt it as well. 

Secondly, I found the length of Ashen Winter to be too long. I hate using the term wordy but that's exactly what this book suffers from. I don't need two pages of exposition just to tell me that this bad guy is moving a foot to close to Alex's hiding spot or pages of build off for action sequences that amount to little more than this car or that flipping over. The story could easily condense down 100 pages and even then I'd still be tempted to call it a bit too long for it's own good. 

Lastly, I think my biggest issue with Ashen Winter was the plot. It felt like nothing really happened to propel the story forward. Sure some characters return and were even introduced to new ones but I just don't feel like the impact of those encounters was enough to justify the length of the novel. Simply put the events in the story felt like filler.  Due to this I just didn't feel as invested to this installment as I was with Ashfall. 

Now even though I wasn't entirely in love with Ashen Winter, I did enjoy some parts more than others. 

First, as with Ashfall I liked Darla. She keeps surprising me as a character and that's what makes her so darn interesting. I knew she was growing frustrated with Alex just as I was and I could sense that while she loved him things needed to change. 

Second, I was so happy to see that the Cannibles were explored more. Not that I like seeing people eaten but  it's nice to see that the Author didn't shy away from showing it. Let's face it in a situation like this some would become like the DWB's or Peckerwoods. They simply wouldn't know how to adjust without meat and would seek what is readily available even if that means turning on their fellow man for sustenance. 

Lastly, I liked that Alex was able to have some sort of closure from the first book even if it wasn't exactly the kind he was no doubt hoping for. 

Final Thoughts
If you wanted to know a bit more about the characters in Ashfall then definitely pick this sequel up. It's well written, action packed and reasonably well paced. The story does suffer a bit from length and of course disliking the main character was an issue but overall it was a decent effort and if anything served as filler to move the story to it's conclusion. With that being said, I will be rating Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin ★★.

*Copy reviewed won from Giveaway. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any which way  for providing them

Want to learn more about this book or the Author? Click below!
Mike Mullin:
Goodreads Page

Want to check out my review for Ashfall? Click Here!


  1. I haven't read Ashfall yet, but it is on my list. The follow-up sounds good, but not as good as the first. I thought your review was very helpful and it was great to find out what you didn't enjoy as much in this one. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. I haven't started this series yet, but I have friends who are absolutely in love with it. I'm taking a bit of a break from post-apocalyptic novels, at least unless I'd previously started the series, but when I get back to them, I'll make sure to pick this one up...even if does sound like the sequel suffers a bit from middle book syndrome. Great review.


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