Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: Ashen Winter (Ashfall, #2)


Ashen Winter (Ashfall, #2)Author: Mike Mullin
Series: Ashfall
Published: October 16th 2012
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Hardcover, 576 pages
Buy: The Book Depository


Let me tell you guys, if a supervolcano ever erupts and world as we know it comes to an end, I want Darla by my side 24/7. That said, I postponed writing this review for as long as I could because it was hard for me to pin down exactly why Ashen Winter didn’t work for me as well as Ashfall did. It’s still hard, but I think I have some idea, at least.

With Ashfall, Mullin set pretty high standards for the rest of the series, and although he met them with Ashen Winter, he failed to bring anything new into it. To me, Ashen Winter didn’t feel like a new book, but rather an extension of its predecessor. It became just an endless string of action scenes and they all blended into one for me. This lack of oscillations in the pacing bothered me in the first book as well, although the problem wasn’t quite as pronounced.

In addition, I expected this one to be just a bit more emotional. In Ashfall, Alex was still learning to be something other than a protected and pampered boy. He was brave, but he still thought like a teenager, for the most part. By the end of book one, and especially in Ashen Winter, everything he went through gave him a level of maturity one doesn’t usually see in sixteen-year-old boys. Because of that maturity, I expected a better emotional connection between me and Alex, but unfortunately, I didn’t get it.

Alex is very serious by nature and, truth be told, he had very little to laugh about in Ashen Winter which made his occasional humorous remarks all the more entertaining. Mullin used this wisely to break the tension in all the right places and make the book a bit lighter where it would otherwise have been too horrible to handle.

"The men didn't help at all-just kept playing cards. That seemed awfully sexist to me, but I guessed they weren't the enlightened kind of canibals."

I’m not sure whether Mike Mullin always intended for Alex and Darla to have this steady, mature relationship or he’s just very good at listening to his readers, but reading about these two, their relationship dynamics and their appreciation for each other, is a rare and true pleasure. Alex often says that he already feels married to Darla, which would sound positively ridiculous coming from any other teenage boy, but his overall maturity allows for such statements. They both carry around so much responsibility it’s only natural that it reflects on their love life as well.

The third book already has a title – Sunrise, and should be released in 2013. I love that title, it gives me great hope for Alex and Darla’s future.


20 comments:

  1. I've heard so many great things about Ashfall, but I've reluctant to read it given the dark overtones of the book. I'd like to have a little "light at the end of the tunnel" with my post-apocalypse reads so I think I might wait until book 3 comes out to read all of them together. At least this one didn't suffer from middle book syndrome.

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  2. Great review. I read and reviewed this recently too and I think we share a lot of the same opinions! To me, Ashen Winter felt like the exact same structure as Ashfall but slightly different situations. It has the exact same leaving 'home', travelling, looking for parents, meeting gangsters/etc., struggling with survival, more travelling.. And that was it. But Ashen Winter was missing a new overall plot progression. We learn very little about what's going on with the government, etc., and I was hoping that would play a huge role in the story.. but it didn't.

    It very much felt like that second book 'filler'.

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  3. I really look for growth in a second novel and plot progression. The first book is still on my wishlist, but I think I may hold off to see what book three reviews reveal. Very thoughtful review!

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  4. Great review Maja. I love a book where you can really enjoy the relationship. I'm not actually familiar with this series so I'll have to check it out.

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  5. I haven't read this series yet but I've been meaning to. I'm glad you enjoyed the book, most sequels tend to be a disappointment compared to the first book in a series but I'm happy that wasn't the case with this book. Great review!!

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  6. I have this book for review and even though I haven't read the first one, it looks really good. Thanks for the great review! :)

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  7. I was hugely surprised by Ashfall, typically survival stories don't appeal all that much to me, but I got sucked in and couldn't put it down. I'm disappointed this one isn't quite as good, but I do love what you said about Alex and Darla's relationship and their maturity - that was one of the highlights of the first book for me. Thanks for a stunning review Maja!

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  8. Oh I had some issues with Ashfall, so didn't think that I would be picking this book up, but I'm glad Alex and Darla still came strong through this book, they'd definitely made Ashfall for me by the end of it. I'm sorry you weren't able to connect with Alex as much as you'd hoped, but atleast you still have high hopes for the next book. Lovely review hun! :)

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  9. I am so excited to see you are reading Sanctum! I just had to send Sarah to you so you would read it. I hope you love it! Okay onto this book,. I have it coming up in December for review. I had a bit of trouble with the first book in that the entire supervolcano stuff was brushed over. I got the book because I wanted to read about Yellowstone, I grew up in that area... anyway it was a gritty read and I liked it, I was hoping for more growth and something more in this one. I guess I will just have to see what I make of it. Thanks for the honest critique. I agree I love Darla she is one bad ass girl!

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  10. I am of two minds about picking this up, as I wasn't overly keen on the first book but I still somewhat enjoyed it. Darla was one of the highlights for me, and I quite liked Alex too. It's a shame you didn't get the same level of emotion in this one. Lovely review nonetheless, Maja! :)

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  11. Wonderful review, Maja! I agree that in comparison to Ashfall, Ashen Winter definitely wasn't as good, but I was surprised that it was such an entertaining and engaging follow-up. Furthermore, I think I just gained so much appreciation for Mike Mullin to throw in situations that not all readers would expect or necessarily be happy about, so I think my shock at such an intriguing read overshadowed most of the negative points. I love the way you describe Alex and Darla's relationship though - it's spot-on. I can't wait to see more of the two of them in the sequel since they were largely absent as a couple in this installment. Yet another absolutely breath-taking review, Maja! :)

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  12. Hmm, yeah I probably won't read these. I don't know why but I have such a problem concentrating when it's all action, all the time. I've heard several reviewers mention the more realistic/mature relationship and that makes me sorta intrigued. Great review my dear!

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  13. I have this in my TBR.. I really liked Ashfall, but I've heard some mixed things about this one. Sunrise does sound in intriguing though, so I think I'll stick it out with this series. Stellar review as always, Maja!

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  14. Hmm, maybe this is a case of the "Middle Book Syndrome"? I hope so, because I was looking forward to this series since so many readers praise Mike Mullin's works... I hope Sunrise works out better for you. :) I agree, the title is lovely. Splendid review, Maja! :)

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  15. You convinced me to read the first book with your review and I... uhmm... kind of misssed buying it. So it's a good thing you reviewed book two, because I'll now make a note about this series! I'm curious about the emotional maturity in the characters: that's something difficult to pull off, and something I'd definitely be interested in reading!

    Thanks for sharing, as usual ;)

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  16. I haven't read the first one. I read the summary and it sounds interesting. The covers look so cool. Even if it's 3 stars, i'll still give this book a shot. Thanks for another cool review :D

    -Dannielle

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  17. This book's been on my shelf for quite a while and I can't bring myself to reading it. But I think I will. Amazing review! : )

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  18. I'm glad to hear the romance was at least good in this one. Maybe I'll hold off until the last one is out. Wonderful review Maja. :)

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  19. More trials and troubles in this sequel. Keeps you on your toes and not wanting to put it down. A must read after Ashfall!
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  20. I think this book is really good. I feel that it's slightly more geared towards boys, teenage boys, but overall that doesn't take away from the great novel. I'm eager to see what the man has planned, or how in the HECK he plans to stop a book series like this, it seems like you can't find anything to stop, especially if his research is right. LOL.

    A fantastic book for dystopian fans.

    Marlene
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