09 October 2012

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
Ashfall #2
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Source: Netgalley
Rating: Essential

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. - Goodreads

It's hard to pull off a sequel when the first book is so brilliant, but Mike Mullin pretty much did it. I didn't enjoy Ashen Winter quite as much as Ashfall, but I definitely still loved it. 

The main draw for this book is the post apocalyptic setting. Everyone is still struggling to survive after the super volcano has erupted, and food is getting scarce in some places. Alex, the main character, finally leaves the farm to search for his parents, who left to look for him in the previous book. Alex and Darla travel around the state, and that means that the reader gets to read about how other towns are coping, and also what gangs have formed. 

Darla isn't in this book as much, which was a little disappointing. She was my favourite character in Ashfall, so it's a shame we don't get to see more of her in this. I'm kind of hoping for a novella so that I can read about what she got up to when she wasn't with Alex, and how she managed to survive. 

I must applaud Mike Mullin on his ability to make me feel extremely uncomfortable. There are not many writers that can do that, and still have me love their work. I mentioned in my review of Ashfall that some scenes were hard to read, but they were nothing compared with the scenes in this book. There is a lot of talk of prostitution and sex slaves that made a great story and provided some really great scenes (which sounds totally weird now I've put it like that, but I didn't mean it that way, I promise!) but like I said some parts made me very uneasy.

The ending was absolutely epic. Action packed, fast paced and gripping. I may have shed some tears for certain characters, who I won't name, despite seeing their fate coming from a mile away. It was so sad. And then there was the VERY end, which I also won't spoil (obviously), but it's left me wanting more. I cannot wait for book three! 

The Ashfall Trilogy: 
1. Ashfall
2. Ashen Winter
3. Untitled (2013)

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