Author: Mike Mullin
Pages: Hardback 456
Opening Lines: "I was home alone that Friday evening. Those who survived know exactly which Friday I mean. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing, in the same way my parents remembered 9/11, but more so."
"Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don't realize that the boiling hot springs and the spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano, so large that the caldera can only be seen by plane or satellite. And by some scientific measurements, it could be overdue for an eruption.
"For Alex, being alone for the weekend means freedom from his parents and the chance to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother, Then the supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex beings a harrowing trek, searching for his family and finding help in Darla, his travel partner. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster."
Thoughts: The subject is what drew me to his book. Living about six hours away from Yellowstone, I have often wondered about the volcano. And, if it goes off, I'll grab my lawn chair and watch the fireworks!
This book starts shortly before the volcano erupts. The main character, Alex, is remembering the fight he had with his mother; his family leaving for Warren, IL; playing on his computer, and then the aftershock of the volcano. After his house falls on him and starts to burn, he ends up staying with the neighbors before he sets off on a mission to find his family. Here starts his adventures of meeting Darla, dealing with the devolving human condition during a disaster, starvation, cannibalism, a FEMA concentration camp, and love.
I felt the beginning was rushed. After a few comments about the fight with his mother, the book jumps headlong into the action. While some books can pull this off, it was jarring in this book and made it hard to fully concentrate. At first, I was upset that the author didn't spend a lot of time introducing the audience to Alex; however, we learn more as the book goes on. Thinking about it know, I wonder whether the author wanted the audience to learn who Alex is now, after the volcano.
The author did a good job showing how a catastrophe can bring out the worst in people. And, I have to wonder, did Alex actually end up eating someone? When he meets Target, I got the distinct impression that the author was describing long pig without actually saying it. The author also did a good job showing characters thinking through things. The fact that Alex thought of using cross country skis to traverse the ash was a brilliant idea!
The scenery was well executed. The descriptions of walking in the ash and the ash covered in snow was beautiful. Growing up in a snow covered environment, I was able to fully empathize with the characters. In addition, the author did a good job using the ashen landscape to show how bleak things really were. The FEMA concentration camp was also well done. Mulling was able sketch a picture of the toilet trenches, the line for food, the lack of sleeping space, and the austere nature of the camp.
I loved Darla's character. Her gift with mechanics was a unique touch.
This book wasn't exactly as I expected; however, Mullin was able to pull a few punches and surprise me.
Currently: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
Current Pages: 5862