Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin

Title: Ashen Winter (Ashfall #2)
Author: Mike Mullin
Published: Currently October 14, 2012
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

My thoughts: **POSSIBLE SPOILERS!**

*This review contains spoilers for Ashfall - book 1 in this series!*

Ashen Winter takes place roughly 10 months after the events of Ashfall. Alex and Darla have made as much of a home as possible with Alex's aunt and uncle on their farm. Things are going as well as can be expected until a small group of bandits shows up out of the blue and tries to kidnap the young girls (Alex's sister and cousin) from the farm. Through Alex and Darla's combined bravery and heroism, the bandits are incapacitated and/or scared away from the farm.

When the shotgun used by the bandits is retrieved, uncle Paul informs Alex that it is the shotgun his parents took with them last Fall when they left for Iowa in search of Alex. Alex immediately decides that the time has finally come to leave the farm to search out his parents.

Alex and Darla leave on their journey almost immediately. First order of business? Go after the bandits who ran from the farm and interrogate them. If only things were that easy, though. Alex and Darla encounter more than just minor setbacks and dangers on their quest. How do you succeed when it's as if the entire world is against you?

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Ashen Winter was an amazing follow-up to Ashfall. Just when I thought there wasn't possibly another disaster that could befall Alex and Darla... I was proven wrong. This installment in the series is just as action-packed as the first. Obstacle after obstacle, danger after danger - it never ends!

Alex and Darla are wonderfully inspiring characters. This book really showcases Alex's determination and faithfulness to the ones he loves. He never once abandons his mission, even when it seems that all hope is lost. There are also a few additional characters introduced in this book. I won't give away any spoilers, but the new additions are wonderful. My favorite would be Ben; an autistic teenager with a sharp mind and tons of helpful military knowledge to contribute.

There's a whole new plethora of obstacles to get through in Ashen Winter, but the main focus is people themselves. It's all about how a person's humanity can wane in the face of disaster; how the supposed black and white of what is bad or what is good can quickly fade into shades of gray when it comes to survival. Selfishness is on display and self-preservation becomes something ugly in Ashen Winter. It makes you ask just how much of your humanity you'd be able to retain in the face of what's happened in this story.

Just as it was with it's predecessor, this book definitely has some, er.. icky parts! Did you have trouble with the skinning-of-the-bunny part in Ashfall? Child's play compared to some of the things in this one. I shiver just thinking about it. So, be ready!

All in all, Ashen Winter is just amazing. It's packed with fast-paced action and obstacles to overcome. There are oodles of plot twists and surprises you should, but won't, see coming! You're jaw will hit the floor at least a couple of times. Romance is casually woven into the story all throughout - but love isn't quite as simple in this book as it was in Ashfall. ;) This book is full of situations where humanity is on display at it's very worst and very best - and the thing is? Everything that happens is realistic... I could easily see these things happening if such a disaster were ever to occur. Ashen Winter is pure brilliance. A definite addition to my favorites list!

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Book source: NetGalley
Publisher: Tanglewood Press