Monday, July 18, 2011
466 pages, Tanglewood Press
Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.
Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.
Alright, let me put all of us out of our misery and say simply: not my thing.
First off, though I can tolerate (is secretly writing a) dystopian, apocalyptic doom-and-gloom "we're all gonna die!" novels are not up my alley. I know exactly how many ways humanity can be wiped out within the time frame of a day, thank you very much. I don't need it to be thrust in my face in grotesque detail every single day.
Ostrich-like mentality? I don't think so. I prefer to stay cheerful and optimistic rather than waiting for my roof to fall in on my head.
Ashfall centers around the (extremely slim) possibility of the supervolcano currently slumbering in Yellowstone exploding and ending life in the U.S. as we know it. Think Pompeii on a freakishly huge, inescapable level. And of course, a lack of food and hope brings out the worse in people.
And the author makes sure we know this in gruesome, graphic detail.
There is rape. There is cannibalism. There are underage teenage relations (which feel to me as though they take up the majority of the "conflict" of the last few chapters, as compared to more important urgent issues like food or surviving the next twenty-four hours). There is homosexuality. Simply put, if you're the type of person who takes offense at any/all of that, this book is going to have you running in the opposite direction like a bat out of Hell.
My suggestion? Leave it and keep going.
Warnings: See above.
No further comment.