Author: Mike Mullin
Pages: 466 (ARC copy)
Genre: Young Adult/Post-Apocalyptic
Publication Date: 10/11/2011
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.
Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget. (Goodreads)
There is a dormant (though capable of awakening) super-volcano lying underneath Yellowstone (which this is actually true). If that fact right is not enough to put some fear in you, I don't know what will. This novel was terrifying, gripping, and I couldn't put it down for anything (okay, I had to for work but that is irrelevant here). I will say now that although this is put into the genre of young adult fiction, I think it should be geared more toward older teens and adults due to the nature in some parts, i.e. some of the descriptions of violence, some sexual nature (although generally a fade to black type situation, but either way...), etc.
Alex is a fifteen year old boy who, until the Friday his parents and sister leave to visit family in Illinois, has lead a pretty normal life. After his parents leave, all heck breaks loose -- a super-volcano heck that is. In this novel, we follow Alex in the search for his parents after the eruption of the super-volcano that rests underneath Yellowstone, causing a cataclysmic reaction; ash, lightning, rains, volcanic winter, deafening thunders lasting for hours. Along the way, Alex runs into some of the more hospitable people in the world -- and unfortunately some of the nastier specimens we still label as human. Luckily for him he meets Darla. I loved Darla. She was sarcastic, witty, but still had a good heart underneath her tough exterior. Alex really was a typical teen boy, but through the chaos we see him grow and mature in a lot of ways, if not wholly. Even with it being written from his perspective, I still feel like it had a more adult tone.
All in all, I would recommend this, even if bits were disturbing and violent. If you think about it, this probably is pretty realistic for a situation this extreme. However, I still would not recommend for younger readers (under 16/17).