Book Review: {Ashen Winter, Ashfall #1 | By: Mike Mullin}


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Title: 
Ashen Winter

Series: Ashfall #2 
Author: Mike Mullin
Edition: Hardcover
No. of Pages: 594
Published: October 16, 2012
Source: Purchased 
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Links: Goodreads 
Amazon B & N
Rating: three-stars

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. ― Publisher

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Title: Ashen Winter Series: Ashfall #2  Author: Mike Mullin Edition: Hardcover No. of Pages: 594 Published: October 16, 2012 Source: Purchased  Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B & N Rating: 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…

My Assessment

Plot - 5
Characters - 4
Worldbuiling - 6
Mood & Tone - 6
Writing Style - 5
Storytelling - 4
Cover Art - 10
Overall Impression - 4

5.5

I Liked It

My reading experience with Ashen Winter turned out to be a bag full of mixed emotions. In fact, I'm still debating on whether to rate this book 2 or 3 sparrowhawks! The only thing this book had going for itself was its action-packed race against some pretty unrelenting antagonists - kind of like The Walking Dead meets The Last of Us and that's a pretty epic concoction if pulled off carefully. Sadly, however, while the book was full of action Ashen Winter was underwhelming compared to its predecessor Ashfall ― still and all, I liked it but with major reservations.


WHAT I LIKED

thumbsup_purple_2016 The general premise of the Ashfall series is still something that continues to pique my interest. Namely, because I have often pondered on the catastrophic aftermath of a plausible Yellowstone eruption. That said, Ashen Winter opened up more of this grim world and continued to build a grisly atmosphere. This and the overall tone of the story arc is truly what kept me reading.

thumbsup_purple_2016 On the plotting spectrum, Ashen Winter took an interesting turn that I was frankly not too keen with; however, the story gradually improves and reaches its prime right during the last quarter of the book where it manages to expose the cruelty of humanity whilst simultaneously depicting the determination and zeal to overcome all the challenges and obstacles found in a cruel dystopian world. Sadly, this is where the positives end for me.

 

THINGS THAT MADE ME GO HMMM. . .

thumbsdown_black_2015 My main gripe with Ashen Winter was with the overwhelming exposition and descriptions where every single detail, every emotion, every aspect, every exaggerated action scene is described in tedious detail-focused fine points. Take, for example, this scene:

I scuttled over to a standpipe that jutted from the roof. By clinging to it with my hands, I could safely do leg lifts and side kicks. I worked on those until my leg muscles were burning and my whole body started to warm up. Then I turned around, hooked my ankles around a standpipe, and did push-ups for a while ignoring the pain of my wounds. By the time I finished, my arms were sore, but I was toasty. I slithered back to the top of the roof and peeked out.

The simple fact is, I am not a fan of exposition that is so patently ridiculous it drives me to complete boredom; and it stands to reason that this is why it took me so long to finish the book in the first place!

thumbsdown_black_2015 Speaking of action scenes, have you ever wondered what it would be like to give birth to a Chuck Norris/Jean-Claude Van Damme baby? Well folks, allow me to introduce you to Alex Halprin. A fifteen (later sixteen-year-old) martial artist beefcake who is basically an untouchable action hero with superhuman abilities (I’m being sarcastic) that help him defeat the odds with his awesome roundhouse kicks, front kicks, back kicks, side kicks, drop/axe kicks, hook kicks, spin kicks, tornado kicks, backfists, forefists, elbow strikes, eagle strikes, tiger claws, and everything else that revolves around Taekwondo technicalities:

My kick connected perfectly, catching him right between his legs. The hours of farm work, pedaling Bikezilla, and skiing had paid off – my kick was so powerful it lifted him onto his toes. Then he crumpled, collapsing and clutching his crotch.

Mind you, this is only one snippet out of the 500+ pages in this book that produced an overabundance of corny non-stop action sequences for your reading entertainment; and it stands to reason that, these ridiculously exaggerated scenes manage to suck the juice straight out of the story. All this to say that these bursts of action scenes (along with the overwhelming exposition) induced inevitable eye-rolling and facepalm sessions, to say the least; long shall you reign Alex!

thumbsdown_black_2015 For most of the book, I found myself incredibly frustrated with the fact that View Spoiler » and were instead introduced to a new cast of characters who lacked depth so desperately. View Spoiler » Truth be told, I’m only in this for Darla and Alex; in fact, they are the only reason why I enjoyed Ashfall so much and why I am determined to finish this series.

 

AFTERTHOUGHTS 

With a nearly 600 page book that is, essentially, all description amidst corny action sequences, Ashen Winter did not deliver on the promise of its highly engrossing predecessor Ashfall. I ended the book quite exasperated and while the story did end on a somewhat high note, I was just too tired and underwhelmed to care; and that is what I have to say about my experience with this book.

 

 SPECIAL BITS & PIECES

I would survive. I would survive and do battle at Darla’s side. We would fight together to make a place in this disaster-hewn world – a place where we could live in peace. Or die trying.

 CONTENT GUIDE
Violence Minor Mild Moderate Heavy Extreme
Profanity Minor Mild Moderate Heavy Extreme
Sexual Content Minor Mild Moderate Heavy Extreme
Drugs & Alcohol Minor Mild Moderate Heavy Extreme
RECOMMENDED FOR YA 18+

Loss of a loved one, murder, attempted murder; moderate strong language, moderate religious profanities;  sexual references, brief nudity, prostitution, sex trafficking, sexual jokes and lines are tossed about, sexual violence & rape; the book involves cannibalism, danger, and threats in an extremely gloomy and bleak atmosphere

ALSO IN THIS SERIES

Dystopia | Science Fiction | Young Adult
I Loved It!

5 thoughts on “Book Review: {Ashen Winter, Ashfall #1 | By: Mike Mullin}

  1. I remember the first book of this series was really intriguing, but I just couldn’t get into the second book. To be honest I can’t even remember if I finished this book… I think I must have put it down near the beginning of the book actually because a lot of your points don’t remind me of anything I read lol. Like you the amount of description of useless scenes was so boring, I didn’t like Alex much and I too wanted more Darla! Plus I wanted more volcano action!

    1. You’re not the first to put down this book Jordan! In fact, almost everyone I know that has read the first book abandoned the series altogether I’m currently halfway through book three and I have to say, the series is somewhat redeeming itself; that is to say, it’s on a whole different plane than Ashen Winter – that’s for sure!

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