Alex wants to skip visiting his uncle’s goat farm, and his parents finally agree to let the 16-year-old stay home alone this time, on that September weekend when the whole world changed, when a supervolcano eruption rocked civilization to its core.
It’s not like Alex was planning a wild party in his parents’ absence – just computer games and junk food on the menu. But those teen pleasures are gone now, like clear air and electricity and sunshine and phone service and clean water and trusting other people. Even 900 miles from the Yellowstone supervolcano, earthquakes throw houses around like kids’ blocks in their Iowa hometown. Then the ash begins to fall from the sky…and fall and fall and fall, clogging car engines, making it hard to breathe, getting into every crevice of his clothes.
Determined to get to his family, Alex gathers whatever food and gear he can, then heads east cross-country on Dad’s skis. Driving to Warren takes an hour and a half – how long will it take now? Slogging through ever-deepening ash, running short of water and food, he avoids farmhouses where he can see rifle barrels glinting in the windows, tries to find shelter in this flat farmland it gets colder and colder.
He keeps moving east, encountering very few refugees, some even less-prepared than he is, one much more dangerous than anyone he ever wanted to meet. Wounded, he stumbles into the first farmyard along the road and is taken in by Mrs. Edmunds and her teen daughter. Luckily, Darla has enough veterinary training to sew him up, and there’s corn to feed them for a while. Unluckily, trouble is coming down the road toward them, fast.
Can Alex really get to his uncle’s farm under his own power? Can he protect Darla and her mom if they go with him? What’s their biggest danger – the ash searing their lungs, the sudden heavy snowfall, or the viciousness of other people?
Vividly portraying a dystopian scenario that’s entirely too possible, Ashfall is first in a series, followed by Ashen Winter (book 2).
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA
Alex had expected a normal weekend after his parents and sister left Cedar Falls, Iowa for Warren, Illinois, but what he got was anything but normal. How do you survive the fallout of the Yellowstone Caldera exploding? Fifteen-year-old Alex finds the strength and skills to survive and make the 140-mile trek from his home to his Uncle’s home in Illinois. Along the way he fights the volcanic ash that sucks at his shoes, meets eighteen-year-old Darla, survives the early winter, lack of food, and civilization that is no longer civil.
The author of this post apocalyptic novel skillfully intertwines science fact in a gripping story, which examines how a major volcanic eruption might affect life as we currently know it. No electricity, no cell phones, no motorized vehicles, no normal life.
This was a wonderful read. I kept reading and reading and was sorry when I reached the end at page 456. It will be hard to wait until October 2012 for the sequel Ashen Winter. It is on my reminder list. For the teachers – there is a curriculum guide at curriculum guide
Recommended by Barbara Fiehn,
Alex couldn't wait for his parents and bratty little sister to leave. This would be the first time he'd be spending summer at home alone. It was all about World of Warcraft and whatever he wanted to do. No more nagging from his mom. No more disinterested looks from his dad. He couldn't wait....
But that was yesterday. Today, all he can think about is his family. His house burned down to the ground. His eardrums are near to bursting with the sound filling the air for hours on end. The unending ash from the sky. No phones, no electricity....this is the new life he'll need to get used to. A super volcano in Yellowstone erupted, and Alex is now in the red zone.
Those who love survival thrillers with lots of adventure will read this cover to cover! Full review on YA Books and More
Recommended by Naomi Bates, Librarian, Texas, USA
Editor's Note: Read alike: LEGEND series by Marie Lu