Author: Mike Mullin
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.