Published: October 2012
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Copy Provided by: Library
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.
This is one of those series where you CAN'T just jump into book #2 and carry on as if you know what is happening. Mr. Mullin has done a lot of character and story development with Ashfall and it would be hard to begin with this title. That being said, if you haven't already read Ashfall, now would be a good time to do so. This is fantastic apocalyptic series and if this is a genre you appreciate, it is certainly not to be missed.
SO IF YOU HAVEN'T READ ASHFALL, BE PREPARED FOR PLENTY OF SPOILERS IN MY REVIEW....
Ashen Winter picks up right where Ashfall ends and Alex feels the desire to look for his family. Darla, even though she is fully accepted with his family, cannot let him leave on his own and accompanies him back into the fray. I'm not sure I would have the courage to do what he does in this novel. He is constantly thrown into impossible situations and has to dig deep to make decisions that are not always in his best interests but are morally correct. Alex and Darla are a team to be reckoned with when together but when they become separated, Alex will stop at nothing to get her back...all the while, opening themselves up to more and more dangers.
At 576 pages, this was an incredibly long book for me but at the same time, Mike Mullin jam packs the second book with so much action and so many new characters that I flew through the pages, wanting to devour more. I came to really appreciate Alex and his level of courage. For a teenager, he has developed some incredible character skills. I do want to mention that as the need for food and medicine wears on, the level of survival escalates and Mr. Mullin introduces the idea of cannibalism into the novel. Not a great topic for a younger audience but realistic (and a little disturbing) nonetheless. This would make for an excellent ISU title series (obviously not for someone who doesn't like to read long novels) and I would highly recommend it for all genders.