Brenda Fryland's Reviews > Ashen Winter

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
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's review
Apr 14, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: middle-school
Read from April 16 to 22, 2012

Oops-- reviews can only be posted 30 days before release! (October 16th)

I will repost the review that I just deleted in September!

Many thanks to Tanglewood Press for allowing me to read this wonderful book before its release date.

If you haven't read Ashfall, do it now in anticipation of this next book in the series.

Pre-order it now -- it's absolutely worth it. What a ride!

Here's the full review:

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Ashfall. Massive volcanic eruption creates a devastasted new and horrific world heading into ice age weather. Civilization breaks down and we see what that does to average people. And we see what it does to the lowest quality person -- yikes.

This book (Ashen Winter) picks up right where the first book left off,it starts with a bang and never lets up on the action. One obstacle after another, over and over, action action action. I can see many teenage boys loving that fact! For me, it was a tad too much. I wanted to fall in love with Alex and Darla again, and I feel like I didn't get a chance to do that as much as in the first book.

Who is this book really written for? The writing and action would appeal to middle school boys, but the sex scenes, etc. are a little much for that age group. In terms of content, definitely more high school/adult. As a teacher, I certainly cannot recommend it to the 5th-8th crowd and I wish that I could! The author also doesn't allow us to go too deeply into the characters -- there's too much "telling" and not enough showing and discovering things about them. There aren't enough setting descriptions to really orient the reader either -- some parts are downright confusing. Those issues will be more apparent to a high school reader. Hmmmmm.

Here we go -- I am being somewhat cryptic to avoid giving any spoilers!


Some beautiful tibits: Setting: "farmall tractor thermometer hanging outside the kitchen window... " The wall of cars! "hibernating grizzly" snores -- great touch, brings in the sense of a teenager thinking just that. an old-time fire brigade, great visual "A strand of bark flared orange, looking like the filament in an old incandescent lightbulb" "clinging to the bottom like a doomed barnacle" Looking back, I think the first half of the book was stronger in developing setting to help us visualize.

SUSPENSE! The author is incredibly adept at creating suspense. You want the characters to succeed in their quest at each turn of events, but the author doesn't let that happen quickly or easily. Some possible foreshadowing hints at a not-quite-so-happy ending, so I am always VERY concerned about the characters.

Ben -- I love Ben. The addition of an autistic character is brilliant. This condition is receiving alot of attention right now, and it's a fabulous way to bring in extensive military knowledge in an interesting way. Mr. Mullin, please keep Ben in the next book!

Oh ya, not quite a cliffhangar ending where you are desperate to read the next book RIGHT NOW (thankful for that since another one of my fave authors is torturing me that way, Ilsa Bick!), but I definitely NEED to read the next book as soon as it comes out. Or before if I am lucky enough to get an advance reader copy again!

Negatives: As an adult reader, I see many situations that don't ring true. Not sure that a teenager would pick up on that or care -- so the writing may be spot on for the young adult reader. But for me, a few things don't make sense.

First things first, how many times can one book contain the word BERM?

Would the uncle really just let them go with almost no discussion?

I lose the sense of the amount of time passing -- I'd like more of a break between action or more comments to help me focus on how much time has passes. Again, adult reader here. Would a teen even care?

Why did Mayor Kenda waiver on decisions -- allow collection of all supplies and then stop from leaving?

Under the truck -- too much, too long, it got annoying

Sudden change in handling bad guys:DWB's -- first time kill them, next time let them go?

What? Fire under a propane tank? How about pouring hot water over the frozen screw? Why take this chance?
The Dean character. Weird handling of this guy. erratic, did things I can't see a dad that cares that much doing. Yes a post-apocalyptic world will change people and make them harsher, rougher. But some of these scenes just don't sit well with me. With Alyssa? Totally do NOT see this happening with someone who takes care of people, has a daughter, etc. Did NOT like the "trade" scene at all. But remember, I'm a mom/teacher reader!

The positives absolutely outweigh the negatives. I believe teen readers will truly enjoy this book and want to read the next one. I'd love to see a push on selling the paperback version of Ashfall to get people psyched for the release of this book! Keep writing Mr. Mullen -- you've got "it"! Looking forward to Book 3 in this series!

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