Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Ashfall #3


Rate this book
The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other, gangs of cannibals roam the countryside, and what little government survived the eruption has collapsed completely. The ham radio has gone silent. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors' constant companions.

When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task requiring even more guts and more smarts than ever — and unthinkable sacrifice. If they fail . . . they, their loved ones, and the few remaining survivors will perish.

This epic finale has the heart of Ashfall, the action of Ashen Winter, and a depth all its own, examining questions of responsibility and bravery, civilization and society, illuminated by the story of an unshakable love that transcends a post-apocalyptic world and even life itself.

546 pages, Hardcover

First published April 15, 2014

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Mike Mullin

9 books1,643 followers
Mike Mullin’s first job was scraping the gum off the undersides of desks at his high school. From there, things went steadily downhill. He almost got fired by the owner of a bookstore due to his poor taste in earrings. He worked at a place that showed slides of poopy diapers during lunch (it did cut down on the cafeteria budget). The hazing process at the next company included eating live termites raised by the resident entomologist, so that didn’t last long either. For a while Mike juggled bottles at a wine shop, sometimes to disastrous effect. Oh, and then there was the job where swarms of wasps occasionally tried to chase him off ladders. So he’s really hoping this writing thing works out.

Mike holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and her three cats. ASHFALL is his first novel.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,189 (48%)
4 stars
2,263 (34%)
3 stars
937 (14%)
2 stars
180 (2%)
1 star
53 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 772 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
March 30, 2020
and now it is over.

let's take a moment of silence to reflect on this trilogy.

i loved this series. i loved it like i have rarely loved a trilogy before. and for those of you who are still all weirdly snobby about reading YA (i was one of you - get over it) this does not read like what you are probably thinking of when you think of YA lit. it never has. it is one of the most well-conceived, well-researched set of books; heavy on both the practical survivalist/scientific detail and the action sequences, and it never sacrifices the human elements. yes, sometimes alex seems a little too good to be true, yes sometimes it seems awfully convenient to have an electrical engineer, a brilliant military strategist, and darla - the handiest girl to ever have around in a post-apocalyptic situation all at the ready, but it never seems forced. survival of the fittest and all.

i love everything about this book.

the characters:

alex is great in this book. although he is young, he has already proven himself to others as a level-headed, capable, and compassionate person. he is hard-working and intelligent, and is willing to listen to people's advice. even in his own internal monologues, he admits when he doesn't know something, and defers to the expertise of others. in this book, the focus is on rebuilding; creating a homestead. there are still dangers (SO many dangers), but the primary concerns are the necessary measures that must be taken to establish a home base, and creating a sustainable future for the survivors. most of which falls on alex's shoulders.

alex's mother is somewhat of a disappointment in this book, but her decisions make sense given her situation. still - grrrr.

ben. love ben.

darla. well, darla.

she is just one of the best characters ever, anywhere.

If there was one thing I was certain of with Darla and a technical problem, it was that she wasn't bringing me just the problem. She would have a solution in mind, and it would be something that required my help, or she would have already done it.

that's all that needs to be said. that, and that her "big" scene at the end made me cheer like a sports fan. thanks for that.

the story:

plenty of action in this one, despite what i said above about all the homesteading. there are so many harrowing scenes. particularly the scene just after my bellow of oh my god mike mullin, WHAT DID YOU JUST DO????? the part that happened after the awful awful part made me the most worried for the characters and the freaking coldest i have ever felt reading a book. and i have read Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage.

the setting:

well, you know how i feel about the post-apoc. especially the post-apoc that takes place in a recognizable location and one that could actually happen. it is chilling and horrifying and this is the kind of book it might be really nice to have after an event like a supervolcano. i will never be a darla, but if i take notes from this book, there is a chance i will not starve to death. notes, and some luck. there is a lot of luck in this book, but there is just as much bad luck as good luck, and his storytelling style is seamless and never feels like he's throwing a deus ex machina lifeline to his characters.

i have a couple of quibbles. i don't necessarily buy the idea that the eminently practical darla would have made the decision/sacrifice she did in stockton for the sake of some romantic idea. it is really nice to see that she does have that side to her, but as someone who has always been ready to make the hard choices for the sake of survival, it seems uncharacteristically shortsighted.

and that one is only a quibble because of how many things mullin does take into consideration - how many details he includes and possible obstacles he addresses, only some of which had occurred to me while reading.

oh, wait - third quibble:

but quibble quibble who cares?

this book is worth a million stars, and while i am sad to see the story end, and i will miss those characters, it is a satisfying ending, and i am eagerly waiting to see what mr mike mullin will write next.

come to my blog!
October 22, 2017
It's an incredible story of winning and losing, of struggling and percevering, of retaing your humanity at all times and of those who lose it, of love and passion, chance and calculation, knowledge and invention, hope and despair, faithfullness and betrayal. The darkness of the last night of humanity and the dawn of human resilience, all entangled. This series is my new number 1 of all stories of how one day the world went to hell in a handbasket and what became of it due to some truly amazing, inspiring people. It's a great series!

It has been a wonderful, memorable series, therefore it gets its totally merited top-of-the-notch rating from me.

22 Oct 2017. An unexpectedly memorable series. Drastically underestimated. Love it so much!
It might be the case that I'm a bit mawkish reviewing it but it has resonated with me deeply and stayed with me for long after I read it. And that's what I value most in my books. It's not a problem to write Armageddon. Many do it. But to write a story that will touch your reader's soul, that takes talent. And Mike Mullin has demonstrated it via this series.
A reread will follow, definitely.

MY GOD!!! I just learned that #4 is to follow!!!!! Christmas is already here!
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,363 followers
August 14, 2016
Series that end on such a fantastic note like this one makes me want to scream and shout about how epic the ride was. Then follow that with a lot of ugly crying from it being over.

With this series, Mullin has created an amazingly realistic, plausible, and terrifying post apocalyptic story set in the aftermath of the Yellowstone volcano eruption. Throughout the series we have seen these characters go from scared teenagers only trying to live to see the next day, to strong leaders who are being brutally realistic with the hand they were dealt and the game they were forced into. The character growth we witness is incredible. From our main characters, Alex and Darla, to the many faces that have been on this journey with us, the extreme conditions has changed them to the core. When all you can count on to survive is yourself, you become who you need to be - stronger, tougher, smarter - or you die, no question about it. Despite the cruelty of this world, Alex has somehow kept hold of his kind, generous heart. Don't get me wrong, he's a fierce survivor who will do what it takes even if it's the stuff of nightmares, but he never loses sight of his morals. He's a commendable leader and the best kind of hero. In addition to character growth, we have emotional and social transformations as well. Alex, for instance, was all about being treated as an adult in the previous installment. After all he and Darla had been through, being treated like a 16 year old ruffled his feathers. In Sunrise, however, you could see the cracks in his heart, the longing to be a teenager again. To not have daily life-or-death responsibilities, to not have the weight of so many lives on his shoulders. Anyone would miss a childhood that has been cut short so ruthlessly.

The romance is this series is also an aspect I loved from the start. Not only is it free of annoying tropes like love triangles, it's also refreshingly mature and drama-free. As a team, Alex and Darla perfectly complement one another They are both devoted and honest with each other, whether it be as lovers or survivors. And most importantly. they communicate to avoid unnecessary arguments caused by misunderstandings. Their romance is really a force in itself that has aided in their survival.

This third installment is the real deal. We're past the initial shock of the volcano, we're past the trauma of realizing they're now existing in a world inhabited by cannibals and survivors who have lost all trace of humanity. We're now planning for the long haul, trying to make a life instead of simply existing. Where the last book was characterized with unending hardships that truly demonstrated the harsh reality of this post-volcanic world, Sunrise is more tranquil. Though it's far from being relaxing as the horror is still ever-present, but we get to see them settle in and work towards some kind of future. A new community even establishes itself thanks to some impressive ingenuity and teamwork, and grows remarkably. It's very interesting to see the evolution of its political system, too. Considering the title of the book, we can't help but have a glimmer of hope throughout, all the while being unable to let go of your fear and anxiety. Especially when the death toll keeps climbing.

Ashfall is and always will be one of my favorite series that I urge everyone to read. I fell for these characters the moment I met them in Ashfall, they have made me tremble with fear, love, and hope in every book, and they will continue to live in my heart for a long time coming.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Ashley Marie .
1,218 reviews376 followers
July 6, 2016
RTC when I get home from work. This might be the most solid trilogy I've ever read.

August update: jfc how did I forget to review this? ugh. WHEN I GET HOME. MAYBE. MAYBE LATER TONIGHT. BUT IT WILL HAPPEN.

July 2016 update: god I hate it when I do this. This was such a good book. There was drama a-plenty and yet everything still wound up with a (basically) happy ending from what I remember.
Want to read
December 4, 2013

You can tell this is probably going to be the more positive book in the trilogy. SO EXCITED.



Well, at least its not like a 15 year wait.

*cough*neal shusterman*cough*

super excited for this.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,370 reviews919 followers
May 14, 2015
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

‘I had always believed that the human race would survive the massive volcanic eruption at Yellowstone, would surmount this disaster, just as we had surmounted so many lesser disasters before. But [...], I wonder: did we deserve to survive?’

Sunrise is the final installment of the Ashfall trilogy. Alex and Darla continue their struggle to survive in a crumbling world where the remaining inhabitants have become more dangerous than the environment. Forced to relocate and find a new place to start over completely is easier said than done but it’s necessary if they intend on living. But in a world that’s broken and destroyed, it’s a constant battle of wits and perseverance.

THE END IS HERE. Or at least the end of the series and boy is it a rocky one, as I’m sure you guessed from my rating. Here are a few reasons why. The story had a constant choppy sort of feel that I attribute to the strangely short chapters. They caused such a distraction whenever something happened the chapter would end and it felt like the story ground to a halt and it had to work to build up momentum again. The story in general was lacking in plot and direction and I couldn’t help but think it would have been better titled “Book Where A Bunch of Random Bad Shit Happens.” Also, I understand that this series as a whole is quite possibly an incredibly realistic portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world but it felt overly gratuitous in Sunrise. I’m conflicted whether to praise Mullins for having the gumption to portray it as harshly as possible or be repelled because of the constant barrage of shit his characters were forced to suffer through.

Darla still remains my most loved character of the series. Seriously, everybody would be goners if it wasn’t for her but at times it seemed a bit impossible that she’s able to do all that she does. She was able to get their new community set up using wind turbines to heat their greenhouses but they’re still having to barter for candles? I’m no survivalist but it seems to me like they could have come up with something there. Alex’s mother, aka the drama llama from hell, had some issues with Darla which were so incredibly ridiculous and heightened the drama unnecessarily. I found Alex to be incredibly indecisive and completely lacking in confidence which is what you would normally expect from a kid his age and the responsibilities he’s burdened with but the constant self-doubt was tiresome. I would have loved to have seen this novel told from the POV of Darla or at least a switch-up in chapters between Alex and Darla. Alex just got to be a little much for me in this installment.

This has been the year of bad series enders for me with Sunrise being the sixth out of a whopping seven disappointing reads that I’ve read in the last 3 months alone. Starting a new series is an investment in your time and to read hundreds upon hundreds of pages for it to end in disappointment is one of the worst things ever, no exaggeration. I think for me its even worse with Sunrise because Ashfall is truly one of my most favorite books of all time. Ashfall is the book that first opened my eyes to post-apocalyptic fiction. Sunrise may have been an unfortunate disappointment for me as a series ender but I’ll always love Ashfall and will always be thankful for the awesome introduction into the genre.
Profile Image for Andrew Hicks.
94 reviews43 followers
April 23, 2014
I have this love/hate (and even kinda love-to-hate) relationship with author Mike Mullin. Of the YA authors I've read multiple books from, Mullin is by far the worst offender in 4 categories:

1. Hacky, meat-headed, laughably bad dialogue.
2. Describing at length things that are not important to plot or character while majorly glossing over things that are.
3. Contriving disconnected episodes to fill pages without advancing the overall plot.
4. Inserting gore purely for shock value.

And yet, despite all this (and yeah, the points mentioned above kinda keep me entertained in and of themselves, like when I used to watch bad movies on purpose as a teenager), there's a compulsive readability to Mullin's books. I wish I could quit Mike Mullin, but instead I continue to enjoy him begrudgingly.

Sunrise is the conclusion to a trilogy that began in 2011 with Ashfall . When I got my hands on Ashfall , I was a fresh convert to the joys of habitual YA reading - I was eight weeks into my odyssey, and it was my 17th book. Ashfall grabbed me so hard, I literally didn't put it down almost the entire day. It wasn't until the back third of Ashfall that the spell wore off, and I started to spot the chinks in Mullin's literary armor. Those chinks were on full display in the second Ashfall book, Ashen Winter , still readable in that begrudging way.

The Ashfall trilogy takes place in frozen, post-apocalyptic Iowa and Illinois. At the start of Book 1, 16-year-old everyteen Alex is home alone for the weekend, his parents off to his uncle's farm, when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts and America becomes life as we knew it.* Rather than stay put, Alex treks across ashy, snowy landscape to find his parents, doesn't find them, treks back again and then treks back the other way again, getting into implausible misadventures all the while.

At the start of Sunrise , a couple years have passed since The Event. Alex and superwoman girlfriend Darla are on his uncle's farm. We open on a bloodbath, where refugees to neighboring town Warren and some of its residents are being driven out and massacred by their evil wheelchair-bound mayor. Or something like that. It's been a week since I finished Sunrise , and I already can't keep straight who was killing whom; I just remember Mayor Paraplegic was the murderer, and a couple minor characters died.

The real bad guy is this ridiculous knife-wielding dude who applauds the death of civilization but is only a threat to Alex a couple times, when the story needs him to be. Meanwhile, Alex runs for mayor against Mayorplegic, Darla murders a cannibal, Alex and Darla start building greenhouses that run off of wind power and... Wait, I don't want to spoil Sunrise 's surprises, because surprises are the best thing about a Mike Mullin book. There's a crazy one about two-thirds of the way in, too, that's classic Mullin - brutal, unnecessary, out of the blue and milked totally dry for the rest of the book.

Nearly every chapter of Mullin's trilogy either ends on a cliffhanger or the illusion of a cliffhanger. The first Ashfall book compared to the other two is like the first couple seasons of "Weeds" compared to the last six. At first, you care about the fate of the characters. Then you realize they're just going to keep getting written into fascinatingly dangerous situations and then escape from in frustrating ways that defy logic. It's still just good enough to see through to completion, but it jumps the shark way early.

* = Any fan of post-apocalyptic YA seems to either love or hate Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It , which is a similar but much more realistic-feeling novel that also spawned some inferior sequels.
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,881 followers
April 16, 2014
Ashfall, Ashen Winter and Sunrise are, in that order: the good book, the better book, and the best book by far. In this final installment, Mullin shows a level of maturity that was beyond him in the previous two books, and proves to us that – while his characters slowly developed and grew – he was also busy becoming a much better writer.

I was not among those readers who fell madly in love with Ashfall. While I liked the story and even enjoyed Alex’s voice, I felt that the faulty pacing was impossible to ignore. A year later, the same thing happened with Ashen Winter. While I enjoyed the characters and the overall darkness of the story, I struggled with the lack of oscillations in the pacing.

Sunrise is a whole different ballgame. It is long, it is slow, it is, at times, excruciatingly detailed. But it is also a well-rounded book, a complete work that functions perfectly in its entirety. I’ve noticed reviewers complaining about the first half, but for me, the process Alex and Darla had to go through to find their place under the sun and rebuild was more than necessary. Through it all, Alex matured admirably, and his growth – both emotionally and within the community – made perfect sense to me. Darla, happy to stay in the background and be the moral support he desperately needs, followed him every step of the way.

And if we’re to be perfectly honest here (which we always try to be), the Ashfall series was always pretty much Darla’s show. She was the supporting pillar and she carried this whole thing on her back, until the very end. While she did seem idealized at times, no one can resist a true hero, especially in the shape of a thin teenage girl.

There were more than a few surprises in this book, unexpected, unwanted and very painful. But each and every one served a specific purpose, and they all led to a very satisfactory ending.

Bravo, Mr. Mullin. I wonder what you’ll give us next.

Profile Image for Anne.
3,869 reviews69.2k followers
June 16, 2014
4.5 stars

Also reviewed for Addicted2Heroines

Sort of sad to see it end...
I'm expecting some great things from this author in the future, so I'm betting the best it yet to come.

If you enjoy the post-apocalyptic or dystopian genre, then the Ashfall trilogy is something you need to immediately check into. It's brilliant.

So. Lots of surprises in Sunrise.
Of course, the biggest surprise would have to be that No way! Please tell me that was some sort of dream sequence! Seriously?! Ahhhhhh! moment.
If you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about.
If you haven't read it yet...
Brace yourself. 'Cause not in a million years did I see that coming.
Almost as shocking was the relationship between Alex and his mother. That lady made some odd choices. Really odd.
Again...did not see any of that weirdness coming.

The story was different from the first two, but I'm not sure if I can really explain exactly how. Less action and more politics maybe? Although, I'm not sure even that would be an accurate description. At any rate, the pacing seems different from the others. Know this going in, and you should be fine.

The characters go through quite a bit of change in this book.
One of the biggest changes is that Alex steps up as a leader. Although, in reality, it's more like he gets 'pushed up'.
And Darla finds her own version of a romantic side.
It, um, shows itself in a rather unexpected way...
Sorry, not sure how to say any more without giving away a pretty major spoiler.

New characters are added, old characters make a reappearance, and not everyone turns out the way you thought they would.
Also, a new villain emerges.
*see above mentioned screaming*
In the end, I'm going to have to declare this a pretty satisfying ending to these book.
Was it perfect?
But most endings aren't.
However, this one comes pretty darn close.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital copy of this arc for review.
Profile Image for David Estes.
Author 64 books2,368 followers
April 3, 2014
I haven't been doing reviews or even rating books lately, but I just had to for this book, and this series in general. This is an AWESOME series. There is so much to it, and the character development is extremely realistic and well done. And the author, Mike Mullin, pays so much attention to detail, and takes so much time to research and really learn the technical aspects of what he writes about. EVERYONE needs to read the Ashfall trilogy, one of the best post-apocalyptic series I've read.
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews370 followers
March 19, 2014
Initial Thoughts: 3.0-3.5 stars. Loved the first book Ashfall, enjoyed the second book Ashen Winter. This book caused me to go through a few too many mood swings. There was a point where I almost put the book down for good - I was just so angry with the direction the story was taking. I took a few hours to compose myself and read a light romance and then went back to this book. The second half of the book went by a lot quicker and this is why I feel the book should be at about 3.5 stars.

The Review
It’s been about 11 months since the eruption of the Yellowstone super volcano. Entire swaths of the United States lie in ruin. The devastation is inconceivable. It’s cold outside; there’s very little sunshine. The US government seems to have collapsed. The Midwest is in complete chaos. The roads are impassible and towns wage war on each other for very limited resources.

I’d have to say that reading this book brought about a whole mess of emotions in me. This is such a depressing world – full of anarchy, guns, violence, crazy people with guns, and the like. It literally seems to be a hopeless world. Instead of working together, the majority choose to battle it out. The brutality is alarming. I really had trouble reading this aspect of this world and I did have a moment where I would have flung the physical book across the room had it not been my precious e-reader. You see, I hate gratuitous violence. I’m a pacifist at heart and I believe that I would probably not survive this post-apocalyptic world.

After a short break, I dove back into this book. After all, I had invested a lot of time reading this series and I absolutely HAD to know what would happen next. This series will make you think. It will make you think about your own disaster preparedness plans and what items would be must haves and what items you could do without. It will make you think about hope, cooperation, rebuilding a society, and leadership. Despite all of the darkness and gray surroundings, there was a glimmer of hope. That’s what I hung on to, and that’s what kept me reading.

This hope was to be found in the youth of this series. Young characters like Alex and Darla, who were barely grown up as the book began but were forced to grow up quickly and improvise. Alex and Darla took on leadership roles despite their youth. They saw the need to rebuild an entire society – and this is the theme that stuck with me: the rebuilding and rebirth.

I was a little surprised by Alex. At the beginning of Ashfall, he was just a petulant teenager. In this book, adults defer to him for leadership. Surprisingly enough, Alex rises to the task. The amount of responsibility placed on Alex is daunting. Again – why would the adults abdicate their responsibilities to a teenager barely old enough to drive a car? (not that there are any around, but you get the picture).

I think that what makes this society work is the incredible teamwork. Alex is surrounded by some very capable people, most of whom are barely older than he is. Ben, who is autistic, made an excellent military tactician which enabled the settlement to be placed in a highly defensible position. Darla, the MacGyver of all things mechanical was able to get some turbines going to power up the settlement. Now that was an amazing accomplishment. Another member of the team assigned work tasks to the newcomers, and so on. Such teamwork enabled this settlement to function very well.

Of course, this world is far from perfect and our main characters encounter many obstacles. Probably the most annoying was Alex’s mother and how she treated Darla. Outside the settlement, others conspire to steal food and the limited technology on hand.

Sunrise was a satisfying conclusion to the Ashfall series. Even though it wasn’t my favorite book in the series, I’d recommend the series to readers in middle school and up.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tanglewood books for a review copy of this book.

Review and blog tour giveaway posted on Badass Book Reviews. Check it out!

Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,161 followers
March 21, 2014
Unfortunately, these 3 Stars feel generous. I thoroughly enjoyed the previous two installments in this trilogy, but this conclusion seemed to lack...direction. Sunrise begins with a series of intriguing plot points emerging, from Alex's assumption of power to his increasingly volatile relationship with his mother. Yet, these issues are only briefly touched upon, never explored to a deeper potential, rendering the first-half of this novel quite dull. A snooze fest, really, as Sunrise focuses on a community gradually being built in this post-apocalyptic world. Mullin's latest also fails to shine in the secondary character department. While these individuals played important roles in the past novel, their personalities are overshadowed by Darla's presence. It seems this is a recurring theme in most finales, lately, that important characters from Book 1 and Book 2 finally meet and their arcs converge in Book 3, only to have one group or the other eventually overtake the other, sadly.

Sunrise does, thankfully, pick up its pace and gain well-needed focus during its second-half, but not quite enough to make up for its slow start. Where this series continues to shine is in Darla and Alex's romance. It is a subtle, minor aspect to the trilogy but remains a driving force of equality and true love. Sunrise is certainly a satisfactory ending, but I wonder if this novel couldn't be condensed into a novella or, better yet, edited to gain more perspective. Both Ashfall and Ashen Winter made bold, provocative statements about humanity while Sunrise seemed to merely wrap up the loose threads regarding these beloved characters. If you haven't picked up this series yet, I'd suggest reading Ashfall and ending there too. It works brilliantly as a stand-alone (for the most part) and, frankly speaking, Mullin hasn't been able to compare since.
Profile Image for Josiah.
3,211 reviews145 followers
March 28, 2018
The moment is at hand for Mike Mullin and his Ashfall series: did he bring it to a resounding, stunning conclusion like Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy or Neal Shusterman's Unwind dystology? Could he craft a finish that would brand these characters and their apocalyptic odyssey into the consciousness of readers for generations? The stage was set heading into Sunrise. Alex Halprin's long, winding road to reunite first with his parents, then with Darla after a flenser gang abducted her, brought them back to Uncle Paul and Aunt Caroline's farm outside of Warren, Illinois. The supervolcano eruption at Yellowstone that caused ash to rain from the sky, blotting out the sun and plunging the American Midwest into endless winter, has torn society to shreds. Sex traffickers and cannibals roam the streets for victims, but Alex and his family are relatively safe near Warren, growing kale in their greenhouse to stave off scurvy, bracing for the next group of marauders to lay siege to the farm. Is any sanctuary to be found in this nasty new world?

Most of Alex's major decisions have turned out well, and people are taking notice. Uncle Paul and Aunt Caroline defer to him when tough choices need to be made, though he's still a teenager. The only family member who treats Alex's policy prescriptions with skepticism is his mother, who hasn't recovered from the psychological shock of her husband's death at the end of the previous novel. Alex's father might have survived this supervolcano nightmare if he hadn't sacrificed himself rescuing Darla. Alex's mother isn't ready to accept her son's leadership, but many of Warren's people are. When a risky raid pays off handsomely—even as it pits Alex against a lethal new foe from Stockton, a master knife fighter known as Red—the Warrenites are ready to follow Alex, but Warren's cagey old politician, Mayor Petty, has other ideas. He undermines Alex's urgent request that a wall be built to protect Warren against Red's army. Mayor Petty still has influence in town, and Alex winds up exiled on Uncle Paul's farm with the family. The worst comes when Alex's mother moves to Warren with his sister Rebecca, leaving without looking back.

If Alex can be an effective leader, now is the time to prove it. Ben, the autistic older brother of the teen girl (Alyssa) who Alex saved from flensers in the last book, is a military savant. He recommends leaving the farm. It's a decent food source, but hard to defend against armed enemies. Alex and his small group of followers move to an area beside some old wind turbines that could be restored to heat greenhouses and produce food. Alex leads by example, putting all his energy into constructing greenhouses and expanding the energy capability of the wind turbines. The residents of his settlement develop ideas to create a food surplus so they won't have to subsist on starvation rations, and to ensure that unforeseen disaster won't wipe them out. This tiny pocket of protestors to Mayor Petty's cold calculations slowly grows as refugees happen upon the hidden colony and elect to join. Dozens of citizens turn into a hundred, then a few hundred, then more than a thousand as Alex's simple policies cultivate a healthy, sustainable society. No one eats if they don't work, and no one who works is deprived of what they need for themselves and their family. While the infrastructure of Warren decays under the guidance of a mayor increasingly intolerant of dissent, Alex's settlement prospers.

Even as life in this growing community—known as "Speranta", a word meaning hope—improves, Alex wonders if the rift with his mother is irreparable. She's cut him and Darla out of her life, refusing to acknowledge their relationship. She makes huge life changes without notifying Alex. A clandestine trip to Stockton to steal supplies ends horrifically for Alex and Darla, but Alex's mother hardly seems to care about the pound of flesh grotesquely stolen from her son. A lot of people in Speranta depend on Alex for survival, though, and he can't allow himself to be swallowed by grief. However large Speranta becomes, welcoming hard workers displaced from their homes by the supervolcano fallout, the settlement will be in peril as long as Red is out there plotting revenge. Stockton resorted to cannibalism when food ran out rather than brainstorming innovative ideas for food production, and it's a matter of time until they target Speranta. Is Alex ready for one last battle to prove himself as the people's leader in this era of interminable hardship?

There isn't an abundance of quotes in Sunrise that stand out as examples of the story's themes, but those themes are present for all five hundred forty-two pages. There's a jarring contrast in the ways people deal with the apocalypse. Some inflict harm on innocents around them rather than combine resources so as many people as possible can survive. Alex, Darla, and others refuse to kill and destroy to reduce rivals for the dwindling food supply, and Speranta proves them right in making that choice. Even under conditions of extreme deprivation, people can flourish if they apply their talents in harmony rather than viewing other humans as adversaries. Eat or be eaten is a losing strategy when we can all eat and live at relative peace. Speranta also shows the value of transparent government led by the people, under the principle that everyone who wants to eat must contribute. By linking their standard of living to how hard they work, people are incentivized to plug in and do their best, and the community thrives. Politicians like Mayor Petty disrupt that with regulations that sound good, but do harm in the long run. Heroes and villains are by no means always clearly defined in the Ashfall books, but love and determination goes a long way toward surviving. Someday soon, a real sunrise is going to peek through the murky skies, and modern society will be on its way back after years of fire and ash.

Mike Mullin's debut series is excellent. It's a workmanlike story; don't expect to be sucked in by it like Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy or Neal Shusterman's Skinjacker trilogy. Ashfall, Ashen Winter, and Sunrise aren't as fast as those series and don't feel as effortless, but there's a lot of good to be gleaned. Alex and Darla probably would never have crossed paths if Yellowstone hadn't blown its top more than a thousand miles away, but their mutual devotion is as bright a beacon of hope as Speranta itself, evidence that love and valor live on under the bleakest circumstances known to mankind. Nothing can sever that bond, not even Alex's virtual certainty in Ashen Winter that Darla had died. Their connection is what I take from the Ashfall series, the part I would remember if I went through a doomsday event like in these books or something on a smaller scale, more personal. Love can conquer all. I give Sunrise at least two and a half stars, likely the full three. It may the best installment of the series. If I want a spellbinding apocalypse adventure, there are other books I'll reach for first, but the Ashfall saga won't be far behind. It's something special.
Profile Image for Kribu.
510 reviews52 followers
April 14, 2014
Actual rating: around 4.5. Have been hovering between 4 and 5 stars but I do tend to be stingy with the fives, so ... rounding down for now. Might change my mind later, depending on how well the book stays with me.

Sunrise was easily in my top five most anticipated YA releases of 2014. I'd appreciated/loved the first two books a great deal (somewhat to my surprise, as I'd started to burn out on dystopias by then and wasn't sure survivalist, brutal, post-apocalyptic settings would work any better), so I had high hopes - but as always with high hopes, and especially with final books in trilogies/series I've loved a great deal, there was also a niggling worry that I'd find this a let-down. It's hard to end a series without it feeling at least a little bit disappointing, really.

Anyway, I wasn't disappointed. Sunrise has its share of brutality and death - maybe even more than the first two books - but it's easily also the most hopeful. Sometimes, I'm not really pleased when a bleak series gets a "happy" ending; with this, it worked, well, for me. It's a little bit bittersweet, and it's not perfect, but it's undeniably hopeful - and fitting. I was glad to see the struggles and hard times lead to something better, a world that's still tough but with some order and hope to it.

I also felt the pacing was good, especially in the first 80% of the book. That leads me to one of the two issues I did have with it (although overall, they didn't detract too much from my enjoyment) - the pacing in the last fifth.

I'm not a devout believer in "show, not tell" without exceptions. I know and understand that there are times telling is necessary - times when showing instead of telling would bog the narrative down tremendously. Even so, I felt there was a bit too much telling in the last part of the book - summarising, basically, of the "and then we set up this and then we worked on this and built some more greenhouses and in the meantime our population had grown to 1000 people and we held elections and .. etc etc" kind. I'm not sure I have any bright ideas on how one those parts could have been tweaked to improve on them, and I understood why they were needed, but at some points, I felt like I'd been reading page after page of summarising of the "what we did during the past year" sort.

My other issue is... well. Hmm.

Still, it's a minor issue at best. On the other hand, I loved how almost all of the characters, regardless of age, gender or background, were depicted as strong and capable - anyone who'd survived this long in this world would have to be. And there was a lot of character growth over the course of the series in general.

I'm really glad I stumbled across this series a couple of years ago. Definitely one of the better (if not the best) survival-type, realistic-feeling, post-apocalyptic YA series I've read.

* ARC of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review. Thanks!
Profile Image for Wendy F.
890 reviews183 followers
February 3, 2016
It took me quite a while, but hey I finally finished this series! Yay me!

That was a really satisfying ending to the series. Everything worked out, but not so much that it felt like a pretty packaged ending.

I'm actually not sure what there is left to write about, so I'm not sure where Mullin is going with the 4th book. I'll read it, but I'm dreading it too because in order to make the book good he has to eff things up, and they've worked so hard and the ending was good.

It was raw, and violent, but in the end it was happy.
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
881 reviews251 followers
December 25, 2019
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

Short and Simple Review
This is yet another book in which it took me a long time to get to. I read Ashen Winter and here I am, seven years later, finally finishing this trilogy!

The book does do a decent job of reminding the reader what has just happened. I remember very little of the past two books except for the basic plot of book one (guy MC going to find family at Uncle's farm after supervolcano. Gets a girlfriend somewhere along the way). We do come into the story after a major battle. A neighboring town has taken Warren and there are many injuries and deaths in the wake of this event. I admit that when I first started reading this book, I was not so sure if I would finish it. This book has a lot of dark elements, and I have been reading too many dark books lately, and I was thinking that I no longer liked apocalyptic books. But this is the last book in the series and I really liked the previous two books, so I stuck to it! 

And I am so glad that I did. While the beginning started out slow, as I read, I really wanted to see things through. I got attached to these characters again and I was hoping for them to, well, find hope. And the story does pick up. We see less darkness and more hope. Even though there are still some very dark scenes, the characters grew so much. When I finished the book, I felt happy, optimistic, and proud of what the characters have done. The first part was a 3-star book, but the end was 4 stars, so I give this book 3.5 stars. 

Overall, this was a great ending to the series. This series showed such a realistic apocalyptic event (one I worry about every day. I really want my missile silo) and I am glad that I finished this. There is news of another book coming out in the future, but I am not sure if it will ever come out. If it does, though, I will read it.
Profile Image for Shelley.
5,127 reviews458 followers
April 10, 2014
**I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

*Genre* Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
*Rating* 3.5-4

*My Thoughts*

"I cursed the Internet in the most inventive terms I knew -- by killing the telephone book and map business, it hadn't done us any favors." Alex in Sunrise

Alex Halprin and Darla Edmund's story comes to a satisfying conclusion in the finale of the Ashfall Trilogy. Sunrise apparently picks up ELEVEN months after the eruption of the Yellowstone Super-volcano that devastated much of the Midwestern US leaving Yellow and Red danger zones, and covers the span of three or so years as Alex struggles from being an innocent teenager we first met in Ashfall, to an adult who has survived a rough and tumble world to become a decent leader who people look up to.

Alongside Alex in his struggles to survive the post-apocalyptic world (besides Darla) are his remaining family members in Rebecca (sister), Max and Anna (cousins), Uncle Paul, and his estranged and outrageously pathetic mother who I abhor for her actions towards Darla and other stuff that I won't spoil. I will say that I wish there was more of Rebecca's participation in Sunrise, but was glad that Alex had family members surrounding him that were willing to do whatever it takes in order to survive against all odds. I would be remiss in not mentioning Ben, the autistic military strategist who will make you smile every time, Alyssa, and Ed the former cannibal who are all a part of Alex's inner circle and important cogs to building a new civilization.

Mullins imaginary in the Ashfall trilogy has impressed me with its realistic portrayal of what life could be like if Yellowstone actually did erupt or another horrific event that unleashes hell on earth. He writes vivid, and sometimes gory scenes that puts readers right into the story alongside Alex and Darla as they struggle with cannibalistic gangs, monsters who rape and torture children, mayors who are ignorant, foolish, and churlish while breaking up families, and wars against sister cities over resources and jealousies that lead to major death tolls on both sides.

Darla, who is apparently a year and a half older than Alex, is still my favorite character in this trilogy. DESPITE some silly mistakes that cause her and Alex a whole lot of pain and suffering which I totally did not see coming at all, she doesn't stand around bitching and bemoaning her situation. I loved that she was taught by her father about machines and how to fix them. I love that she knows how to weld, build and drive big machinery, and in this story, she goes even further alongside Uncle Paul, and even Alex by creating an entire new community from scratch. I only wish that Mullins would have allowed me a moment of gratuitous violence towards Alex's mother for the way she tried to undermine everything Darla did, including loving her son.

Sunrise is more of a story of how the survivors pick up the pieces while struggling to live. It is Alex's story of determination, heroism, choices, and growing up from a innocent teenager, to an adult responsible for an entire community that follows him through hell and back. Although Alex is the protagonist of this story, it is because of those that surround him, and encourages him, and supports, and nudges him into becoming an even better adult and leader that gets his people to safety, and a brighter outlook on surviving a post-apocalyptic world.

*Recvd 01/23/2014 via NetGalley* Expected publication: April 15th 2014 by Tanglewood Press
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,055 reviews911 followers
April 7, 2016
An Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher for review. Quotes pulled from the ARC may be incorrect and may be subject to change.

Now THAT is one epic ending to another wonderful trilogy. I can't believe it's over. There's no more Alex, Darla, Ben or even Ed. From the very beginning this story had my heart racing, mind swarming and hands sweating. This post-apocalyptic story COULD happen. The super volcano can happen. The repercussions that these characters go through can happen in real life. And that's what makes it brilliant. Mullin has a way with developing his characters through several arcs and spins and heartache. You end up feeling all of these yourself. Then there are the short bursts of action sequences cut in with the story that keeps moving forward. We have villains everywhere we look. Down to the mayor who tries to do what he thinks is right, to the sadistic enemy that reminded me a lot like the Governor from the Walking Dead. This has more of a what-would-you-do-to-survive type of book, but it's also loaded with witty characters, incredible pacing and realistic, but scary problems like cannibalism (to say the least) *shudders*

Characters like Alex and Darla are hard to find. Their strengths also become their weaknesses. Their intelligence and strategies to overcome the need to protect their settlement is clearly evident throughout the book. Loved that they were flawed characters as well. Especially Alex's mom. Now she held a grudge so downright confusing that I didn't even understand her woman logic. When it's finally revealed, I can't say her motives weren't selfish. I thoroughly disliked Mayor Petty and Red. Then there's the sweet and almost hilarious dialogue with Ben, the incredibly intelligent military strategist that Alex goes to. I cracked up and laughed out loud when Alex asked him, "What's up?"

Scarily realistic, the Ashes trilogy by Mike Mullin will be one of my favourite survival stories of all time. Hands down, a series I will re-read when I can. Definitely a must-read to add to your collection. I LOVED every second of this book and I did NOT what it to end. Such an underrated series, and I know that I'll be recommending this to everyone who loves a post-apocalyptic survival story.
Profile Image for Skip.
3,249 reviews393 followers
April 26, 2014
Third book in the Ashfall trilogy. Nine months after a super volcano ruins the U.S., Alex and Darla are trying to create a sustainable life for themselves and their extended family, but the bad guys are making that hard by raids. Local strife and town politics push Alex to establish his own community, completely self sufficient and defensible. Mullin continues to mature as a writer, delving deeper into his characters, even within a continuing action-packed story of adversity. I liked this series and recommend it to others.
Profile Image for Wortmagie.
512 reviews77 followers
June 25, 2019

Die „Ashfall“-Trilogie von Mike Mullin ist eine der realistischsten Dystopien, die ich kenne. Unter dem Yellowstone-Nationalpark liegt tatsächlich ein aktiver Supervulkan, der zuletzt vor 640.000 Jahren ausbrach. Ein weiterer Ausbruch ist jeder Zeit möglich, der USGS (US Geological Survey) schätzt das Risiko trotz Phasen „thermischer Unruhe“ in den letzten Jahrzehnten jedoch gering ein. Mullin war sich dessen bewusst, als er die Trilogie schrieb. Auf seiner Website erklärt er, dass sein Ziel darin bestand, eine spannende Geschichte zu erzählen und er deshalb auf wissenschaftlich plausible, aber nicht unbedingt wahrscheinliche Szenarien zurückgriff. Im Finale „Sunrise“ spielt der Vulkanausbruch allerdings ohnehin nur noch hintergründig eine Rolle.

Nach der monatelangen Suche nach Alex‘ Familie kehren Alex und Darla endlich nach Illinois zurück. Doch als sie die Farm seines Onkels Paul erreichen, bietet sich ihnen ein desaströses Bild. Die Kleinstadt Warren ist ein Kriegsgebiet, die Farm selbst ein notdürftiges Flüchtlingslager. Während ihrer Abwesenheit wurde Warren von der Nachbarstadt Stockton überrannt. Es gelingt ihnen, Warren zurückzuerobern – aber nicht ohne Verluste. Erneut wird Alex klar, dass die größte Bedrohung nach dem Ausbruch des Yellowstone-Supervulkans nicht von der unwirtlichen Natur ausgeht, sondern von den Menschen. Er versucht, die Erwachsenen davon zu überzeugen, sich auf einen langen Überlebenskampf einzustellen und die Verteidigung ihrer Städte als oberste Priorität einzustufen. Vergebens. Alex begreift, dass ihm nur eine Wahl bleibt, will er seine Liebsten in Sicherheit wissen: er muss Verantwortung übernehmen und eine Gemeinschaft gründen, deren Überlebenswille stark genug ist, um bis zu dem Tag, an dem die Sonne durch die Aschewolken bricht, zu überdauern.

Das Kernthema der „Ashfall“-Trilogie ist ebenso simpel wie fesselnd: Überleben. Leser_innen, die häufig zu Dystopien und Postapokalypsen greifen, kennen dieses Prinzip natürlich, aber die Art und Weise, wie Mike Mullin den Überlebenskampf seiner Figuren im Finale „Sunrise“ inszeniert, ist zweifellos ungewöhnlich. Normalerweise müssen Held_innen in Dystopien klar formulierte Missionen erfüllen: die Rettung eines geliebten Menschen, den Sturz eines repressiven Systems oder die Suche nach einem Heilmittel. In Ashfall und Ashen Winter bediente sich Mullin ebenfalls dieser Herangehensweise, denn in beiden Bänden sucht der Protagonist Alex seine Familie. Die Handlung von „Sunrise“ hingegen ist weniger eindeutig umrissen. Alex muss keine Prüfung absolvieren; Überleben ist die Prüfung. Der letzte Band thematisiert den Aufbau einer starken, widerstandsfähigen Gemeinschaft, die sowohl dem vulkanischen Winter als auch den Grausamkeiten ihrer Mitmenschen standhält. Die Handlung ist weder action- noch konfliktgetrieben, weshalb der Spannungsbogen trotz einiger episodischer Ausschläge insgesamt eher flach ausfällt. Gefahren und Bedrohungen offenbaren sich nach und nach über mehrere Jahre, statt Alex und seine Siedler lawinenartig zu überfallen. Diese unaufgeregte Ausrichtung muss man mögen, ich fand den alltäglichen Überlebenskampf, den Mullin realistisch und ausführlich schildert, jedoch faszinierend. Alex‘ Gemeinschaft findet für jedes Problem kreative Lösungen. Ihre Ziele und Projekte sind durchdacht und zeugen von bemerkenswertem Erfindergeist, denn die zur Verfügung stehenden Ressourcen sind selbstverständlich begrenzt. Sie wachsen über sich hinaus und zeigen, wie viel Menschen ertragen und leisten können, wenn die Situation es verlangt. Sie definieren die physischen und psychischen Grenzen unserer Spezies neu. Alex fungiert hierbei als leuchtendes Vorbild. Im Verlauf der Trilogie entwickelte er sich zu einem passablen Anführer, der seine Gefährten nun inspiriert und leitet. Im Vergleich zu ihm wirken alle erwachsenen Führungspersonen verrückt und ignorant, was unterstreicht, dass Führungsqualitäten keine Frage des Alters sind. Der Mut und die Leidenschaft, die er in seinen Verbündeten entfacht, beeindruckten mich sehr; ich hoffte von Herzen, dass ihre Siedlung gedeiht. Ich hing an den Figuren, wünschte ihnen nur das Beste und fürchtete um den sicheren Hafen, den sie sich aufbauen. Obwohl der Trilogieabschluss keine permanente Bedrohungslage involviert, nutzt Mullin temporäre Gefahren clever, um seine Leser_innen emotional an die Gemeinschaft zu binden, wodurch mir das Buch niemals langweilig erschien. Ich wollte, dass sie es schaffen. Das einzige kleine Manko einer ansonsten sehr stimmigen Geschichte war die zurückhaltende Entwicklung der Nebenfiguren. Ich bin sicher, Mullin hätte noch mehr aus ihnen rauskitzeln können – dass er es nicht tat, müssen wir vermutlich seiner Fokussierung auf Alex und Darla vorwerfen. Da es sich hierbei allerdings um Jammern auf hohem Niveau handelt, will ich mal nicht so sein und verzeihe ihm.

„Sunrise“ schließt die „Ashfall“-Trilogie gebührend ab. Die Geschichte, die Mike Mullin um den Ausbruch des Yellowstone-Supervulkans erzählt, ist vorstellbar und bestechend urtümlich, schließlich fordert der Kampf gegen Naturgewalten die Menschheit seit Jahrhunderten heraus. Es ist ein Szenario, das sich jeglicher Kontrolle entzieht und die Figuren auf ihre Urinstinkte reduziert. Dass Humanismus und Überleben dennoch möglich sind, beweist dieses Finale, das ich vollkommen zufrieden mit einem Lächeln im Gesicht zuschlug. Ich hatte keine Bauchschmerzen dabei, Alex und Darla gehen zu lassen. Tatsächlich bin ich so zufrieden, dass ich die Fortsetzung Blades of Spring, für die bisher weder ein Erscheinungsdatum noch eine Inhaltsangabe existieren, kritisch betrachte. Meiner Meinung nach braucht „Ashfall“ keine Ergänzung. Da ich allerdings nicht weiß, wovon Blades of Spring handeln soll, werde ich abwarten. Vielleicht siegt meine Neugier am Ende ja doch.
Profile Image for Dre.
246 reviews77 followers
April 3, 2014
Originally posted at Sporadic Reads.

After months and months of waiting for the last book from the Ashfall Series, I finally got my hands on the ARC in January for Sunrise. I knew what to expect, but I still couldn't help but feel like I was reading something unexpected. I do know that Alex and Darla's good luck are almost non-existent, and in a post-apocalyptic world, there really is so little room for breathing.

It was a scary thought that in this book, they not only had to worry about getting the basic needs, such as food and shelter, but they also had to worry about other communities who would take what they could get by force, and then there were the occasional flensers - the cannibals.

First off, the cover is very significant to the story. When I realized this, I just about melted.

Mullin brilliantly added characters in the book that played key roles in this dystopian setting. There's Alex, the fearless leader; Darla, the handy-woman and tools expert; Uncle Paul, the electrical engineer; and Ben, the military strategist.

The story focused on creating a homestead that is defensible and is able to produce food for their family to survive. But the story didn't start out that way, they had to suffer a lot of great losses, and experienced so many heart shattering moments. I do admire Alex's character. He has proven himself to be a level-headed leader, but through his inner monologues, he admitted to not being perfect, and he knew that he needed other people's expertise to survive. It wasn't easy for him, because he was only a teenager, and all the responsibilities seemed to fall on his shoulders. There were moments when he wanted to give up, but I respect him for always picking himself up and never accepting defeat. And he's got Darla.
If there was one thing I was certain of with Darla and a technical problem, it was that she wasn't bringing me just the problem. She would have a solution in mind, and it would be something that required my help, or she would have already done it.

Darla is a force to be reckoned with. Her experiences from growing up in a farm, and having to suffer great losses, toughened her. After reading this short story about her, my admiration just grew. Her practical thinking really helped a lot in building a sustainable future for their growing community. Even though she's tough as nails, she does have a soft side in her. There was a scene from the book that made me want to poke holes in Mullin, it was just so shocking and unthinkable, but in that moment, when Darla was hit with the realization that she was about to lose a part of her, the choice that she made just melted my heart. <3

There were parts of the book that were so intense that I had to brace myself for what could possibly happen. Mullin didn't hold out on the gory details. As I've mentioned on my intro for his interview, it was like The Walking Dead, but the walkers are human.

Alex on Flensers :
I didn't want to bury them. I wanted to burn it all, burn even the memory of this scene from my mind, burn the spoiled, greasy taste from my mouth, burn time itself if I could. burn away this world in which the best answer, the only answer, was sometimes to kill.

Alex on technology :
I cursed the Internet in the most inventive terms I knew -- by killing the telephone book and map business, it hadn't done us any favors.

A bit of peeve that I had about the book was the part where everything was just so slow. Mind you, when there were intense scenes, and they were really intense - but when it was slow, it was slow. But I do think our main characters needed the reprieve amidst all the chaos and conflicts between the harsh world and from some people in their community.

If you're looking for a realistic post-apocalyptic future, then this is it. You will be left chilled to the bones with what other people would resort to just to survive. I applaud Mike Mullin for giving us a series that is well-researched, and heavy on tips on how to survive in this post-apocalyptic setting. I don't think I'll ever be Darla, but reading her effectiveness in this kind of future is awe-inspiring to the women of the world. I loved that Mike gave us Darla, even though he mentioned that he's not great with writing female characters, he definitely did a fantastic job with her. And Alex, albeit not perfect, showed great courage under the hardest circumstances. He also showed that being a good leader is not just based on a person's age - it's about being able to make the hard choices for the good of the community.

Overall, I believe that everything was tied up nicely in the end (except for Emily). I was left satisfied with how the story panned out. I kept rooting for Alex and Darla. By the end of the book, I felt like I was saying goodbye to my friends. If you haven't picked this up yet, I urge you to do so, and I hope that it will impact your life the way it did mine.

After all the darkness, they did experience sunrise.

We sat on the roof, our good arms wrapped around each other, watching the sunrise. The gray turned to a low line of deep red rising from the horizon, and then streaks of pink shot from the line, and it transformed, bursting into yellows and violets and oranges and greens and even, wonder of wonders, a patch of pure blue sky. It was the most spectacular sunrise I had ever seen. The first sunrise of the rest of our lives.
Profile Image for RedRedtheycallmeRed.
1,651 reviews35 followers
October 21, 2022
We built a greenhouse.
Two months go by.
We built a greenhouse.
Two months go by.
We built another greenhouse…this was the gist of the book.

A bunch of new characters are introduced, but they mostly blended together. Alex should have died several times but didn’t (he’s like Daryl on The Walking Dead).

I appreciated that the author didn’t try to sugarcoat the bleakness, but at the same time it didn’t seem believable enough. All these people are constantly on the verge of starvation, how are they able to do SO MUCH physical work?
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,886 reviews191 followers
March 3, 2014
This is the third and final novel in Mullen’s Ashfall series. I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley. I thought this book did a good job of wrapping up the series. I enjoyed some of the elements of survival and loved the hopeful ending.

Alex and Darla are trying to pull together and help people recover from the events in the last book. A few things become painfully clear, the farm isn’t going to be enough to sustain them long term, they aren’t welcome in town and town is not well-defended. They decide to strike out along with their relatives to build a more sustainable long-term community. In order to do this they will have to deal with the leader Red, who has constantly caused problems stealing food and attacking nearby communities.

There were some things I liked about this story and other things I didn’t. I loved watching how Darla and Alex’s uncle were able to harness wind power to heat and create new greenhouses. It was fun to watch them work to set up a community that was able to sustain itself, I loved their creativity. I also loved how it was acknowledged that the new community would need excellent defense to survive the onslaught from other communities.

Additionally I really enjoyed how Alex and Darla tried to include everyone who wanted to join the community and tried to let everyone work to their strengths.

I didn’t really enjoy the battles with the community Red had set up; this is just so typical post-apocalyptic and has been so overdone. I understand humanity is fighting to live, but why do you always have to have that one community lead by an evil dude who is eating people and causing general misery? It worked okay in this book, I just thought it was a bit uncreative and boring.

Darla is an outstanding character. She supports Alex well and is an absolute genius with everything mechanical. She has some great ideas and a lot ends up riding on her shoulders because without her this community would never have worked. I loved her practical attitude and admired her ability to get done what needed to be done.

Alex ends up becoming a great leader, but I didn’t like him as much. I am not sure how he stumbled into the position of leadership. At the beginning of the book he obviously is lacking in confidence and fumbles and stumbles quite a bit. I do admire his commitment to what he believes is right. I just thought the way people stepped aside to let him lead them was a bit unbelievable. Don’t get me wrong by the end to the book he is doing a very commendable job of leading this new community, but I felt like the beginning was a bit contrived.

Everything was tied up very nicely and the book was engaging and easy to read. I really felt like this is one of the most hopeful endings to a post-apocalyptic series I have ever read. I really felt like by the end of the series these characters actually have an excellent chance of surviving and making a great go of things.

Overall an excellent conclusion to this series. I loved watching Alex, Darla, and crew defeat the bad guys and put together a community that actually has a chance of surviving this harsh post-apocalyptic world. I think fans of this series will be pleased with the ending, it’s been quite the ride from super volcano explosion to creation of a community that could possibly make it in this world.
Profile Image for A Book Vacation.
1,392 reviews714 followers
March 16, 2014
Random thoughts prior to full review:

This is the third and final installment in the Ashfall series, and while I do really like it, part of me is left wanting. Years pass in this novel, and it's great to be back together with Alex and Darla, I do love them, but I almost felt like not much happened in this final installment. Well, let me state that another way; every time they were faced with a bad decision or sticky situation, it smoothed itself over almost immediately... even the scene where Alex and Darla nearly meet their fate at the hands of Red (you'll know it when you get there), there is always someone around, or a decision that is being made, that allows our heroes and heroines to get out.

Yes, there are deaths. Within the first few pages, one character I really cared for died, but she was more so a minor character, so in the realm of things, me heart wasn't broken for too long. I feel like there was more of a roller coaster effect in books one and two, and I was holding my breath a lot as I read those novels, but not so much in this third isntallment. Everything tends to work on int he favor of the main characters from beginning to end, and while there is one scene that made me cringe, again, the Alex and Darla come out of it stronger than before.

This novel read more as a nice litter wrap up, complete with bow, instead of an intense battle for survival, and I just felt like it all went too quickly and without too many hitches. At one point, Darla and Alex do the same thing four times, and each time they get away scott free. Of course, the next time, not so much, but by that point the build up and let down had happened so many times that I didn't really connect anymore.

I feel like this sort of sounds like I wast the main characters to suffer more; that's not the case at all--I'm glad life is finally working out for them, but with all the risks they're taking (and not taking), it just felt like more should be happening, instead of explaining the complicated green house and heating system that they've got going on.

Of course, I hold some intense animosity for characters like Red, Petty, and alex's mom, but in the end, it's all resolved very neatly... and yet, there really is no end. Could there be an end? I don't know that I'd be satisfied if everything was suddenly okay by the end, but the end definitely leaves more room for speculation than anything else, and those endings aren't my favorite.

All in all, this series is amazing, and I did really like this final installment of this series, but I didn't love it like I did the others.
Profile Image for Sarah (Workaday Reads).
1,073 reviews96 followers
April 10, 2014
Yay! I’ve been looking forward to this trilogy finale since the series first started. I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but my worries were for naught. This finale fit perfectly.

The story was mainly focused on living and building a future after everything that’s happened. I like both the approach, and the way things played out. Well, not the way everything played out, there were a few surprise disasters that left me reeling and wanting to yell “how could that happen!” Of course, in the effort to be spoiler-free, I won’t tell you what happened, but yikes.

I loved how Alex continued his character growth. Reflecting back at the average teenager he was at the beginning of the series, to the competent, if not confident, leader that he was by the end, I was very impressed. It was a natural progression, and very smoothly executed.

Overall, I loved this ending book. I don’t want the series to be over, I want to read more about the rebuilding, the communities, what the future holds for Alex and Darla, and all the new characters that I grew to love in this book. It was a fitting ending to the trilogy, but I just don’t want to let go.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,615 reviews160 followers
December 10, 2016
"Nothing ages you like an apocalypse."

Another great installment in the Ashfall series. With a lot characters both in and out of the story - some come back and some go back away but all are intricately woven into the plot and details.

Alex is still trying to man his place and having way too much on his young shoulders. It's a crazy world they are in - full of Flencers and cold-hearted leaders out to get food. because food is a huge issue here. The winter has gone on too long - and very very few had enough supplies to last this long. No one else in the neighboring area is growing anything - so everyone is out to get more food.

I think the most surprising part of this one is the team work that comes out of some of the uglier confrontations. It's good to think that with so much bad in the world, there might be good too.

I liked the twists and turns for Darla and for Rebecca but I'm not sure what's going on with Matt, Alyssa and Ben. Hopefully that's all good stuff too.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 772 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.