“The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other and gangs of cannibals roam the countryside. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors’ constant companions.
When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task.”
Okay, so despite my trepidation after finishing Ashen Winter, I did grab this book after seeing it on the shelf at the library. And…I was pleasantly surprised.
Alex did annoy me a little, especially on page 2 when he’s all “They don’t consider me an adult even though I’m sixteen.” Chill, Alex. No, you’re not an adult. Sorry. Mullin still has the tendency to have his characters explain their own growth to the reader, but I think the fact that this book takes place within a huge amount of time (I think Alex is twenty at the end?) works well in his favor. It’s less noticeable. His descriptions are also weird (why is it necessary to say that Alex and Darla “fell across each other in the shape of an X”?), and his action in general still had that clunky, tell-y type feel to it, but I didn’t mind it or notice it as much.
Most of my time while I was reading, I was thinking, “This is what the first two books should have been like!” This book was survival at its finest: building something that could withstand the disaster, initiating new (or old) rules, eking out a living on a harsh landscape. It reminded me somewhat of Hatchet, except with more people. There’s very little worldbuilding and much more of Alex & Co. learning to build their own life on this world. In other words, Mullin knew that the last book is not a good place to still be developing atmosphere and world.
I actually think the ending was too nicely wrapped up in a bow, too convenient, too “I’m obviously going for a happy ending despite this awful world.” Or maybe it’s because I still don’t care for Darla, and I care less for Darla and Alex and their “Our relationship is so much more special than anyone else’s” attitude. Although I applaud Alex’s decision to start a family.
Recommended Age Range: 16+
Warnings: Violence, graphic descriptions, death, swearing.
Genre: Survival, Young Adult
I grabbed another ear and started peeling back its wilted brown sheath. It was moldy too. We sampled ears out of every bag we’d harvested. They were all moldy, although some of them only had a light dusting of mold, while others were almost uniformly black with it.
I held out one of the last moldy ears. “You sure we can’t eat this? What happens if we do?”
“I don’t know,” Darla said.
“I’m going to try it—”
“I’ll cut a handful of kernels off this ear and boil them ‘til they’re mush. If I don’t get sick, we’ll try a little more.”
Darla was scowling at me. “It’s not safe.”
“We need the food.”
Sunrise is better than both Ashfall and Ashen Winter, mainly because Mullin goes full-out survival mode and has time speed by with overarching descriptions so that the characters have less time to be annoying. I still don’t like Darla, and I still don’t particularly care for the characters, but Sunrise is at least a good survival story.
You can buy this here: Sunrise (Ashfall Trilogy)