Alex is celebrating his first weekend home alone. At 16, he’s glad to be free of parental hassles and his bratty younger sister. All is well until the unimaginable shatters his world and destroys life as Alex knows it. A volcano in Wyoming erupts, and the force of the eruption shoots a giant chunk of rock 900 miles at supersonic speed. This boulder lands on Alex’s house in Iowa. Such a bizarre catastrophe was totally unanticipated. The first challenge is for Alex to get out of the tangled wreckage of his bedroom and his house. His next challenge is to travel to his uncle’s house and reunite with his family. His trek is horrific, grueling, terrifying and full of despair. Murder, cruelty, cannibalism and greed stalk every mile of the journey
But Alex also experiences kindness along his route. After he is stabbed in a fight, he stumbles into a barn, near death from loss of blood. There he finds Darla and her mother who save his life. Then when Darla’s mother is tragically raped and killed, her house and barn burned, Darla joins Alex on the journey to find his parents.
Even with their combined reserves of strength and ingenuity, their travel is unimaginably difficult and life threatening. Their respect and love for each other increase. Otherwise the hopelessness of their situation could easily overwhelm them.
Ashfall makes readers almost taste, feel and smell the drifts of volcanic ash for which the book is titled. This post-apocalyptic world is real. The relentless struggle to survive and the ubiquitous violence destroy the veneer of civilization.
Fun Fact: Who knew that there really is a colossal supervolcano directly under Yellowstone National Park? In the past 2.1 million years, it has erupted 3 times. No supervolcano has ever erupted in recorded human history. Depending on which scientific measurement you choose to believe, it’s either likely or unlikely that the Yellowstone volcano will erupt in our lifetime. Even if you choose not to prepare for the next eruption, anyone who reads Ashfall will want to prepare for the sequel, Ashen Winter.
Reviewed by FH
THEMES: SURVIVOR AND SURVIVAL STORIES. ADVENTURE AND ADVENTURERS. SCIENCE AND SCIENTISTS.
Tanglewood Press, 2011
Suggested Ages: 12 and up