Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin (Spoiler Free)

Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Read: May 5 – May 6, 2012
Other Information: Library book, hardcover, 463 pages, personal read

Book Blurb: (Inside cover, the back is a bunch of rave reviews by authors I don’t know) Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano, so large that the caldera can only be seen by plane or satellite. And by some scientific measurements, it could be overdue for an eruption.

For Alex, being alone for the weekend means freedom from his parents and the chance to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek, searching for his family and finding help in Darla, his travel partner. Together they must find the strength and skills yo survive and outlast an epic disaster.

My Opinion: I am just going to come right out and say it. I hated this book. It is the closest I have come to a did-not-finish in a VERY long time. I knew as soon as I flipped to the first page that my expectations were far too high. The type is like, size 14! And there is some weird formatting thing where the first page of the chapter HAS to be on an odd-numbered page. So there are a ton of blank pages in the book as well. I don’t know, maybe Mr. Mullin thought people would need to write down all the thoughts this book provoked.

The only thought this book provoked for me was “WHEN WILL IT END?” Not the world… the book.

On page four, I laughed out loud. I did it loud enough to garner a funny look from my fiance. This is not a compliment to the writing and how witty and funny it is. On page four, our main character – Alex – decides to play World of Warcraft. Or WoW. Now, I am an AVID WoW player myself. But I would never in a million years EVER write about my main character playing WoW. I also would not go into detail about what they did in the game.

So four pages in, and we have our first product placement. The book was rife with it. Brand names everywhere. Can you not say “I ate some cold pork and beans straight from the can.” without having to detail the freaking BRAND NAME?!

Ok. I am taking a deep breath. Moving on.

Lets talk about our main character a little bit, shall we?

Alex is a chauvinistic Mary-Sue. From the time he meets up with Darla, he constantly comments about how he can’t let her show him up. Seriously? Alex also happens to know taekwondo, a fact we are reminded of all the time. The moves are listed in detail. They always work. Door locked? Kick it down. Jerk army captain? Break his nose. Dude with a gun? KARATE CHOP!

Darla has mood swings like nobody’s business.

There is a relationship in the book (big surprise, it is post-apocalyptic YA). It is in no way unique, refreshing, or anything other than forced and laugh-inducing.

The plot has holes the size of the bulldozer that magically makes an appearance somewhere in the book. I did tag this as spoiler free, so I won’t say where the bulldozer is. The writing style was amateurish and contains lots of onomatopoeia. Just in case you didn’t know, a gun goes “Blam! Blam!”. I also found a typographical error in my copy. I lost what little respect I had left for the book at that point.

My topic “On Beginnings” was written with an aim at this book. It is written in a style that suggests Alex is reminiscing, but then it starts RIGHT at the beginning of everything and moves through the story in a painstakingly linear fashion. The story is stunted and doesn’t take on that life of its own that so many stories do.

Also, did you know that a disaster of this magnitude would turn everyone in the affected area into a crazy, violent person who probably would sooner wave a shotgun at you than try to help you? Maybe I am too optimistic or hold too much faith in people… but I really think this is an inaccurate picture. Especially after a mere few weeks that the book spans.

Bottom Line: I hated this book. The characters were flimsy and annoying, the writing was bad, and the formatting was weird. I will not be reading the next one, and you’d have to pay me an awful lot to get me to go near another book by Mullin. How this book has such high ratings, I will never know.

My Rating: 0.5 stars


3 thoughts on “Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin (Spoiler Free)

  1. Pingback: 15 Day Book Blog Challenge – Day 11 | Written Permission

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