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Ashfall (Ashfall Series #1)
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Ashfall (Ashfall Series #1)

4.6 137
by Mike Mullin

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Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the


Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to seach for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This post-apocalyptic tale is one that combines reality with the stuff of nightmares, crawls under your skin, and forces you to question your own courage and survival instincts.”

— Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder

Publishers Weekly
In this grim, postapocalyptic tale, the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, covering much of North America in volcanic ash and plunging the world into nuclear winter. Fifteen-year-old Alex Halprin refused a family trip to visit relatives in Illinois, so he’s home alone in Iowa when the eruption occurs. After seeing a neighbor kill three looters, Alex heads east through falling ash, dropping temperatures, and torrential storms, hoping to find his family. Soon he’s joined by another survivor, Darla Edmunds, with whom he falls in love. Debut novelist Mullin puts his characters through hell, depicting numerous deaths in detail (“Blam-Blam! His head pretty much burst, showering my legs with blood and bits of hair and skull and brain”). There’s also cannibalism and a rape before the novel comes to a believable ending; “happy” is perhaps too much to ask for, but Alex does find a measure of stability. The book is well written and its protagonists are well-drawn, particularly the nontraditional and mechanically inclined Darla. Although more appropriate for older teens due to its violence, this is a riveting tale of survival. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Julia Beiker
Alex's parents and little sister head to his uncle's house while he stays behind to enjoy his freedom until all Hades lets loose. It starts with a meteor type rock exploding into his bedroom causing his part of the house to burn. He reaches for his house and cell phones only to find them dead. He runs to the fire station and watches as they slowly put out the fire at his house. He moves in with his neighbors. The outside world begins to detonate like sticks of dynamite until he cannot think straight from all the noise. Then the bad only gets worse as the world goes completely crazy. He winds up leaving his neighbors behind to search for his family and discovers the world must be coming to an end. Each page takes the reader to a different dimension of what the beginning of the end would look and sound like including bringing out the worst and best in human nature. The characters feel real authentic right down to Alex's reactions—what a teenager would do given these circumstances, and especially his flaws in judgment. The last chapter leads the reader to the sequel coming out in 2012 entitled Ashen Winter. Reviewer: Julia Beiker
VOYA - Jeff Mann
High school student Alex Halprin's world changes instantly. When a supervolcano erupts in Yellowstone, he finds himself alone in his Iowa hometown struggling to survive. This new world finds him searching for the things he has always taken for granted: water, food, and shelter. With his parents away visiting relatives and his home destroyed by debris from the volcano, Alex decides to search for his parents. But this new world is covered in ash from the volcano and inhabited by other citizens figuring out how to live in this posteruption world. Alex encounters many people on his long and slow journey through the ash and snow—some people have banded together and formed functioning societies, while others have taken to looting and violence to survive. Along the way Alex gains a travel companion, a resourceful girl named Darla, whose mother was murdered while Alex was staying with her family. The two's search for his family includes a brief stay in a FEMA prison camp, encounters with other survivors, and ultimately leads them to his uncle's house, where the search ends in disappointment. Ashfall takes the eruption of a supervolcano and creates an often bleak dystopian future where civil liberties have been suspended and where FEMA runs camps to contain the victims of the natural disaster. The character's journey to find his parents encompasses much of the first half of the novel. Although the novel is peppered with adventure and action, the first half seems exceeding long, and the descriptions of the ash world and Alex's journey on skis through this ash seem slightly repetitive. Mullin's description of the FEMA camp and how families and smaller societies band together to survive are more engaging than Alex's journey. Alex is a dynamic character and certainly changes throughout the novel, and teens will appreciate this and the romance between the two central figures. Readers who are fascinated by natural disaster stories and dystopian fiction will enjoy this one. A sequel is scheduled for next year. Reviewer: Jeff Mann
ALAN Review - Jacqueline Bach
After the supervolcano at Yellowstone erupts, Alex finds himself plunged into an ashcovered world. Eager to find his family, who has gone on a family trip, Alex traverses 140 miles of dangerous terrain and meets people who have resorted to primitive ways of living in order to survive, including extreme acts of violence and utter hopelessness. Along the way, he meets Darla, another teenager who finds herself alone in this uninhabitable wasteland, and the two embark on an unforgettable journey. As in Pfeffer's Life as We Knew It, Mullen manages to create a believably devastated world in which there are few people to trust and even fewer resources. He deals with some of the more adult aspects of life many teenagers encounter, such as having sex and the embarrassment of relieving bodily waste in public. Readers who appreciate a little romance with their action adventure stories will enjoy Alex and Darla's. Reviewer: Jacqueline Bach
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Alex, 15, is separated from his family when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts. The eruption leaves his world in confusion, with no infrastructure and drifts of ash everywhere. He decides that he must leave his home in Iowa to seek out his family, who were traveling toward Pennsylvania when the explosion occurred. Alex uses his Tae kwon do skills to keep himself safe as he skis over the ash. Food is in short supply for everyone. Eventually he is taken in by Mrs. Edmunds and her daughter, Darla. When tragedy strikes, Alex and Darla must set out on their own to find safety and food. Not surprisingly, along the way, a romantic attraction develops between them. Ultimately, they must figure out how to survive in a refugee camp. The conclusion is satisfying, but unresolved enough to indicate the beginning of what appears to be a planned trilogy. The tough self-sufficiency of the two lead characters (Alex's Tae kwon do coupled with Darla's automotive prowess) adds to their appeal. The romance develops believably over the course of the book. Tautly paced and well researched, this is a high-action read-alike for fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It (Harcourt, 2006).—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
Kirkus Reviews

"The pre-Friday world of school, cell phones, and refrigerators dissolved into this post-Friday world of ash, darkness, and hunger."

Left home alone for a weekend in Cedar Falls, Iowa, while his family visits relatives in Warren, Ill., 15-year-old Alex Halprin ends up fighting for survival trying to get to them through an America ravaged by the sudden eruption of the supervolcano under Yellowstone Park. Alex is characterized by the decisions he makes when confronted with moral dilemmas—dilemmas that have no straightforward, correct answers—resulting in a realistically thoughtful protagonist dealing with complex and horrifying situations. Before he's even left his hometown, Alex encounters looting and other behaviors born from realization of just how finite resources are in emergencies. Traveling to Warren, he's even more vulnerable, both to the elements and to the mercies of the people he encounters. Among the best people that Alex encounters are a girl named Darla and her mother, Mrs. Edmunds, both self-sufficient farmers. But any relief is temporary—threats both environmental and human are ever present. While the pain and suffering Alex witnesses and experiences is visceral, so are the moments of hope and glimpses of human goodness.

In this chilling debut, Mullin seamlessly weaves meticulous details about science, geography, agriculture and slaughter into his prose, creating a fully immersive and internally consistent world scarily close to reality. (author's note)(Speculative fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Tanglewood Publishing, Inc.
Publication date:
Ashfall Series , #1
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Mike Mullin first discovered he could make money writing in sixth grade. His teacher, Mrs. Brannon, occasionally paid students for using unusual words. Mullin’s first sale as a writer earned ten cents for one word: tenacious.
Since then, he has always been involved with literature. One of his early jobs was shelving books at Central Library in Indianapolis. Later, he paid his way through graduate school in part by serving as a reference assistant. Mullin has worked in his mother’s business, Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore, for more than twenty years, serving at various times as a store manager, buyer, school and library salesperson, and marketing consultant.
He wrote his first novel in elementary school — Captain Poopy’s Sewer Adventures. He’s been writing more or less nonstop ever since, but fortunately for his readers, Ashfall will be his first published novel. 
He holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and her three cats. Visit www.mikemullinauthor.com for more info about the author and Ashfall and its sequel, Ashen Winter.

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Ashfall 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 137 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Readers who enjoyed The Hunger Games and Matched will like this book, but it is the most realistic of the current young adult post apocalyptic genre. The violence is more graphic than in the dystopian fantasies and the central romance includes more than virginal kissing, but sex is implied rather than explicit. As an adult fan of the genre, I would recommend this book to my 14 year old son.
MichelleMadow More than 1 year ago
I love stories that revolve around natural disasters, so when I saw that Ashfall was available on NetGalley, I had to request a copy! Ashfall is the story of what happens to a teenage boy living in Iowa--Alex--when the supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park erupts and turns his state into a disaster zone. The action starts immediately when a flaming rock from the volcano crashes into Alex's house, and it continues non-stop! One thing that really stood out to me in this book was how well-researched it was. I could tell that Mike Mullin paid careful attention to the details (even when the details were gory) and that's important when writing about a volcanic disaster like the one that happens in Ashfall. Everything was researched and explained in a way that was clear to the reader -- one part that really stood out to me was when Darla had to butcher a rabbit and prepare it to eat. It was a very detailed (and not gonna lie, kind of gross), description, and reading those details made it apparent how much Alex's life had changed from when he could just go to the store and pick up pre-packaged sandwich meat. Speaking of Darla, she was an awesome character, and I love how she and Alex brought out the best in each other. Darla was tough and resourceful, and Alex was a little more sympathetic to others (and also resourceful, but Darla was the mechanic of the two of them). His taekwondo skills were also quite helpful on their journey! Speaking of his journey, I liked how he not only completed a physical journey, but an emotional one as well. He changed so much through the novel, going from a boy who liked to play video games, complained a lot, and fought with his mom, to someone who was stubborn, strong, and stuck through the toughest of situations. If you like natural disaster books, this is definitely one I recommend picking up. I also loved how in the authors notes, Mike Mullin talked about the facts behind the supervolcano. Very interesting to read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In this thrilling, debut novel of "cataclysmic natural disaster," Alex Halprin lives in modern-day Cedar Falls, Idaho, playing video games and arguing with his little sister on a regular basis. One day when his family has left for the weekend to visit an uncle, the unthinkable happens: Yellowstone erupts in a volcanic super-eruption, leaving thousands of miles under layers of ash and projectile rock with no modern form of communication and few resources for immediate survivors. Alex begins the harrowing journey to Warren, Illinois, where his family is--he hopes--safely harbored with other relatives. Alex's journey is laborious and often heart wrenching as he cross-country skis through the ash. He makes his way through cities, towns, and open, desolated land, meeting friends and strangers alike and finds himself running from cutthroat murderers, looters, and others like him just trying to survive. At one stop, Alex passes out from injuries and ends up at a farm where strangers Darla and her mother nurse him back to health; a steady relationship begins to bond the two teenagers. When tragedy strikes again and forces them back on the road, Darla accompanies Alex on his journey to Illinois, and they continue to skirt danger, both environmental and man-made. It's a realistic, post-apocalyptic thriller. By that, I mean that the thrills are quick and gripping, but they aren't on every page; Mullin doesn't cop-out to the Hollywood-ready scripts that a lot of authors (James Patterson comes to mind) throw at young readers. Instead, Mullin has created a storyline full of highs and lows with mature downtime rooted in the everyday difficulties of physical and emotional survival. It's the mix of action, science, thrills, romance, and the nitty-gritty details that make this book so gripping and good. Recommended for ages 14+ because of mature content. (Full review online by Our Time in Juvie, kid's book reviews.)
reading2alba More than 1 year ago
Expected publication: October 11th 2011(Arc review) ...I found myself yawning and sleepy only a few hours later. There was no point in fighting it-the nightmares that haunted my dreams would beat the waking nightmare my life had become-so I let myself drift back to sleep. Mike Mullin= Genious! Really! It's one of the most amazing reads of this year and one you simply cannot miss! There's no cake before the hit, no preamble as to what you'll witness-not see- but seriously witness in the next sentence. So obviousl by the time I was on chapter 3...let's just say that hyperventilation is an understatement. The World as we know it seaced to exist that friday. Alex thought it'll be one of hist greates weekends since he finally won an argument with his mom, he'll stay in the house when his parents along with his sister Rebecca went on a trip. Making a promise to himself after the events on that friday, Alex goes on a journey that any other day would've taken 2 hours but now it didn't even seem likel he'd make it there alive. Making friends and a few enemies on his way he learns to appreciate every breath he's able to take, ever blink of his eyes, every bite of food in his mouth, and even a face-even unfamiliar-to look at. In the worst situation possible for an alone 15 year old, without your family and friends you get a real scoop of the true nature of the people yu thought you knew. When I thought I could have peace and my heart rate slowed down BOOM! another chatastrophy! At some point I thought wow this is a really big-large-book! and that I'd be reading more and more of the same but God!! was I wrong! Mullin's writting kept my heart rate so high I seriously was scared for my health! As for what I felt while reading this book? -I cried for whole new reasons while reading the book. - 2 times I jumped out of my skin and seat while reading due to little earthquakes here in my country!¬¬ -One of the most realisic, heartbreaking, cruel, and beautiful books I've ever read. The rawness of it all didn't let me relax for one bit. -The first book ever that left me wondering WHAT IF??? -The enormity of the story crushed all the pages from the book! I never thought I could get to dislike pork more than I do but I think Mullin got the job done pretty well. All in all the characters all where perfectly described and written beautifully!! And well what I kept from the book? That life can change in the blink of an eye. That we all have craziness inside us it's just that nothing bad enough has happened for us to notice. That money is just paper; one day you have it, the next you simply don't. But above everything else to not EVER NEVER take anything from granted! What will you be willing to do, give, and sacrifice when your survival is at stake? Will it include your humanity? A book that's realistic in one of the most terrifying ways... Do yourself a favor and don't miss this book for anything! 5/5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this series if you enjoy distopian science fiction, or coming of age fictions. I for sure recommend these books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is about a self centered teen from Iowa, Alex, and survives the eruption of a supervolcano. He decides to look for his family, that he hates. Along the way he is injured and taken in by a widow and her teen daughter; Mrs. Edwards and Darla, on their farm. He is nursed back to health and given food and shelter. Bandits show up at the farm, Alex having led them there, and rape and murder Mrs. Edwards. After this, Darla follows Alex, saving his life along the way. Despite all that she has done for him, Alex takes advantage of Darla, manipulating her emotions having witnessed her mother's rape and murder, for his own ends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great its a thriller romance that is a real page turner. Everyone will love this book after they read it. I have ashfall syndrom i couldnt put the book down. I highly recommend it to everyone
MBMullin More than 1 year ago
Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don't realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the earth forever. Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when Yellowstone erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away. Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter. When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait-to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano. For readers who loved HATCHET when they were younger; for teens who want kick-ass heroines; for those who want flawed heroes who make mistakes, live through them, and keep on trying; for readers who wonder if they'd be able to maintain their human decency in the face of nearly insurmountable odds. This is the must read fall release of 2011.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Raintiger3 More than 1 year ago
Okay so guys this is just such an awesome book okay you just need to understand that before anything. Okay good. So i kinda went on a reading binge about this time last year when i started reading "Monument 14' which is besides the point but go read that book too, anyway i started reading books in this kind of genre and I found this book. This book is great, it might take awhile to get into at first like it did for me but just keep reading because once you get to where it starts to get good it is worth it. It got good fr me when Darla shows up and that isn't to far into the book so just keep reading until then and it gets way better I promise. This is my favorite book ever and i have read a lot of books in this genre and this is the best one that does have romance and is a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat! I would suggest this book for 14 and up :)
Sparrowhawk24 More than 1 year ago
Ashfall was wholly entertaining in view of its gutsy characters and inconceivable world! It’s a story that is weaved with intensity and grips you from start to finish. This book is one of those gems that graces the dystopian genre only ever so often; thus, this book is not to be missed! ___________________________________ WHAT I LIKED + Ashfall is a desperate storyline that depicts a post-apocalyptic MidWest America which has reduced humanity to scavengers. It teems with vistas that are grim, tense and perfectly terrible ― some of which I still can’t get out of my head! And while the story is one that does not hand over a message that you can walk away with, or one that provokes your thoughts, it is a story that contains something I am predisposed toward loving, that being, perseverance through adversity. I’m not referring to the overly simplified type of perseverance either, but the steadfastness that is seen through realistic realities that keep conveniences at bay. + There is a lot of emphasis on meager little things some may consider “filler” ― like, descriptions of meals, how one would butcher a rabbit, a goat, or a hog, how one would stitch up wounds, the fighting techniques, and stances of taekwondo, of the way characters build shelter, procure water and ration their food; yet, as insignificant as these things may be, I found them to be mundanely fitting as it gives testimony to the virtue and simplicity of the things in life we often take for granted. The resplendent colors of the flowers that soak up the sun rays, and the air we breathe as opposed to highly reactive gases of sulfur dioxide, which by definition reeks like “rotten eggs” is a case in point. + The author’s writing style is blunt, raw and unrefined and I loved it! Evidently, this is the one aspect that made the book difficult to put down and so utterly engrossing because we feel and sense the harrowing atmosphere in Ashfall and each character’s desperate emotions as the odds increase at a steady and terrifying rate. Speaking of which, there are numerous scenes within the book in which Alex (and Darla) is faced with impending doom ― some of which are inconceivable for a teenager to have to endure, but as you follow all the obstacles he faces you instinctively take in the joy and relief as he overcomes each trial and that’s what made the book so addicting ― the way in which it hoists our humanity and unique ability to formulate possibilities, to find the silver lining in miserable outcomes and to keep pressing forward. Mmmm, I
murkdoesmc More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the greatest book I have read wonderful characters great concept is pulled off brilliantly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down. Reminds me of Life as We Knew it
Bethanyshyy More than 1 year ago
When the novel begins, Alex is a typical teenage kid, staying at home for the weekend in Cedar Falls, Iowa, while his mother, father, and sister go to visit his uncle and his family in Warren, Illinois. The supervolcano erupts, blanketing everything with ash. Alex takes refuge with neighbors, and then ultimately decides to set off to find his parents in Warren. He travels through the countryside, coming across an escaped convict named Target. Target attempts to kill Alex with an axe; he narrowly escapes, and tumbles into the barn of the Edmunds, Darla, and her mother, Gloria. They help nurse him back to health, and he assists them with their farm chores. Target and a friend brutally rape and murder Mrs. Edmund, while Alex helps to defend Darla. Target's friend is killed by Alex, and when Target comes back, Alex kills him as well. He and Darla then head out across country to go to Alex's uncle's farm. They scavenge for food as they go, and sleep where they can, dealing with cold rain, and incredible amounts of snow. They are scooped up into a refugee camp that is overcrowded and starved, and escape to the uncle's farm. There, Darla and Alex discover that Alex's parents have been gone for five weeks, looking for him. Alex agrees to stay put, because his uncle and aunt and cousins need him, and because his sister is there as well. Darla helps to revolutionize the farm by creating a grist mill which the family can use to its advantage in terms of collecting food as payment, and offering the locals a service. When Alex's uncle breaks his leg, Doc McCarthy sets the fracture and accepts kale as payment. They set up a future trading market, where kale will be traded for pork from the town of Warren, through the doctor. From the farm, Alex and Darla look forward to an uncertain future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey babe
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hands down one of my favorite series. The survival and fast pace of this series had me on the edge of my seat and the writing is superb!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Ashfall series is a fantastic series that I highly recommend.  I started the first book and could not stop.  I finished the trilogy in a week.   The story line kept me interested with lots of twists and turns.  Great characters! Great ride!  Get these books!!!!.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MasterRed92 More than 1 year ago
After staying up to 3am and reading a comment on a picture regarding yellowstone I saw it mention this book and I am so glad it did, the story starts slowly but once the action starts it never seems to stop, It was a hard book to put down. Upon completing this book I immediately purchased the 2nd and 3rd book with express postage. I have lent this book to my sister and recommended this to all my friends, as a 23 yo I am relatively picky in my choices of reads but this has to be amongst my favorites (Ashen Winter (Ashfall #2) is my fave) If you like The Hunger Games and The Skullduggery Pleasant series, you'll really enjoy these  
readragon More than 1 year ago
Did someone ask for action? Because there is action and beyond in this book. Mullins barely leave you room to catch your breathe. Love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book all the way through even though it was predictable at times. It was still fresh enough to keep me satisfied. I can't wait for the next one in the series. 5/5
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this book, and the only reason for four stars instead of five is that I felt the beginning dragged a bit.  Once the action got going I literally could not put it down.  No joke, I carried it into the grocery store with me. Mr. Mullin’s novel is most certainly not for the faint of heart.  It pulls no punches in the gore and general lack of morality that would surely accompany a catastrophic event the size of the Yellowstone super volcano.  It’s all there in stark reality:  death, greed, abandonment, hopelessness.  People can lose their minds in those types of situations. The characters are excellently written, and Alex has an amazing and believable character arc that flows as though Mr. Mullin actually observed someone being forced to grow up too quickly in a time of crisis.  He’s still a child, but we get to see him slowly turn the corner toward becoming a man. Now on to possibly my favorite female protagonist in the history of young adult (maybe even adult) literature:  Darla.  She is both entertaining and tough as nails.  I have no doubt that she would not only take out Katniss at the beginning of the Hunger Games, but also every other tribute.  This girl has everything.  If for no other reason, read this book to meet her.  Excellent character. Very few things please me more than an author who is not afraid to write teenagers as they actually are, as opposed to the more sanitized versions preferred by adults.  This author is one of the best at that.  Sure, they may die, but Alex is still a boy.  What boy his age doesn’t think about sex?  I have seen some call it unrealistic, but the instinct of humans is actually to become more sexually active when they feel their species is being threatened.  This is the same throughout the animal kingdom.  So we have a teenager, hormones, and a primal instinct to protect the species.  If sex didn’t come up the novel would be ignoring the obvious.  Bravo! Highly recommended read, and to be honest, I now have a strong urge to stock up on condoms and Chapstick.  The disaster and fallout are written so vividly that suddenly doomsday preppers don’t look so strange after all.  When a road melted in Yellowstone, I was quite ready to leave the country.  That’s a good book.