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Ashen Winter (Ashfall Series #2)

Ashen Winter (Ashfall Series #2)

4.5 51
by Mike Mullin

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It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this trilogy. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa.


It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this trilogy. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"As fast, furious, action-packed, and, yes, gruesome as Ashfall (2011) . . . what will stay with readers is how the characters save each other from the worst." — Booklist
VOYA - Barbara Allen
The United States has fallen prey to a super volcano in Yellowstone Park. Alex and Darla fought their way out of FEMA and paramilitary camps to find Alex's family in Illinois, only to find that his parents had gone looking for him. Alex and Darla head out to find them after the farm is attacked by bandits that have Alex's father's gun. Shortly after they set out, Darla is shot and taken captive. Alex roams all over the Midwest in an attempt to get her back. He finds his parents in a FEMA camp that they cannot leave. His parents believe it is their duty to save this camp from "flensers" that are stealing people to use as slaves or to eat. The government is no help. Alex and his parents save the camp with the help of some friends and leave to once again look for Darla. His parents do not seem to understand why he needs to find her. His mother just wants to go home to Illinois, but his father decides to help him find the love of his life. What cost will Alex pay to get Darla back? Is the cost too high? What is going on at home when he returns? In this sequel to Ashfall (Tanglewood, 2011/VOYA December 2011), Mullin has outdone himself with nonstop action and injury. Just as soon as you think Alex has it all figured out, the other shoe drops and more problems arise. This book contains some content that may not be suitable for younger readers, such as sex, cannibalism, and violence. Reviewer: Barbara Allen
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Following the cataclysmic volcanic eruption in Yellowstone Park and the resulting volcanic winter, nationwide drops in temperature, and devastating snowfalls led to mass starvation and widespread lawlessness in Ashfall (Tanglewood, 2011). Separated from his family, Alex and Darla, a resourceful girl he met on the road, made their way to his uncle's farm. In this book, Alex gets word that his parents may still be alive and the teens head out into a very dangerous world to try to find them. Mullin's heroes are forced into horrendous situations where they deal with cannibals, slavers, corrupt government officials, and other nasty characters. Stomach-turning descriptions of brutality and strong language may offend some readers, but teens who enjoyed Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008) and Michael Grant's Gone (HarperTeen, 2008) will find Mullin's story equally engaging.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
Kirkus Reviews
Almost a year after the Yellowstone eruption in Ashfall (2011), Alex and Darla are drawn back to dangerous Illinois, which has only grown worse. Life on Alex's uncle's farm has settled into a routine, and while the eruption has triggered an extended subzero winter, Alex and Darla's heated relationship keeps them warm. When a small flenser gang--cannibals--attack the farm, they drop the shotgun that Alex's uncle gave Alex's parents before they ventured into Illinois looking for their son. This discovery prompts Alex--accompanied by the more competent Darla--to head out in search of his parents. After a false start and a disastrous run-in with their old enemies, FEMA military contractors Black Lake, the story picks up with an even more catastrophic run-in with well-organized cannibals. The encounter leaves Alex trying to survive without Darla's help, struggling against flensers who trade in humans--both as food (in explicit detail) and for sex (tastefully inexplicit). Alyssa, a former slave of the cannibals, and her high-functioning autistic brother, military expert Ben, join Alex's rescue mission. The human-driven gore is much more horrifying than in Ashfall, though the realism isn't as strong in the frequent action sequences. Alex's nuanced feelings toward Darla serve to ground the book nicely, though. The cliffhanger ending leaves readers craving the next installment--and dreading what it may bring. A violent, desperate adventure in a chaotic, post-disaster world. (author's note) (Adventure. 14 & up)

Product Details

Tanglewood Publishing, Inc.
Publication date:
Ashfall Series , #2
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.60(d)
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, Mullin 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. He 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. Mullin 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. Mullin holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and her three cats. Visit mikemullinauthor.com for more info about the author and Ashfall and its sequel, Ashen Winter.

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Ashen Winter 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
ABookVacation More than 1 year ago
Mike Mullen really knows how to spin a terrifying story that wraps the reader into its clutches and doesn’t let go until the final sentence. I am in absolute awe, once again, with this sequel to Ashfall, and cannot wait for the third installment in this riveting story. Alex and Darla are back, stronger than ever now that they’ve had time to recuperate on Alex’s uncle’s farm. While no one would say they’re living in luxury, they have survived the volcanic eruption, figured out how to grow kale to stave of scurvy, and things are about as good as they can get when its constantly below freezing and ash and snow cover the ground, having knocked out technology as we know it. But the chance encounter with thieves, brandishing the rifle Alex’s father was last seen holding, once again stirs up Alex’s unease and determination to find his parents, and so the trek back into the wilderness begins. I love Darla. She has a good head on her shoulders, and while life is anything but easy, her ingenuity and previous life on a farm make her one of the most valuable characters within the novel. Together, with Alex, they seem to be an unstoppable force, and I absolutely love them as a couple. Though Alex is lacking in some of the rudimentary skills needed to survive the freezing wilderness, with Darla’s help he is able to preserve, but it isn’t until things go very wrong that we begin to see just how driven Alex really is when it comes to saving those he loves. Darla is my hero, but when Mullin pulls her from the action for a hefty portion of the novel, Alex easily slides into her place, becoming a favorite for all who read. It’s impossible not to root for these two lovers, and Mullin keeps his story packed with fast paced action and heart pounding drama, making it a must read, in my opinion. As it’s a long novel, I wasn’t able to finish it in one sitting, but putting it aside was pure torture. Alex’s plight and the peril the characters find themselves in is excruciating, and I couldn’t push them from my mind, even when other tasks were before me. My mind kept replaying the events, trying to figure out how to make things right again, even when I wasn’t reading—that’s how much the book affected me! It’s a beautiful story and is extremely captivating, and though I screamed aloud at the characters (mainly Alex) throughout the novel, I still love them all, even the newcomers Alex meets along the way. Mullin introduces his readers to even more terrifying possibilities throughout this second novel—from unfrozen waterfalls and barricaded towns, to cannibalistic leaders set on trading slaves, Alex and Darla must trudge through the wilderness in hopes of surviving long enough to cross paths with Alex’s parents, if they’re still alive. And I just can’t get enough.
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
Excellent, but brutal, Apocalyptic Novel “Ashen Winter” is a solid second installment in the “Ashfall” series by Mike Mullin.  Wasting no time, the book picks up a few months after the first has left off.  Spring, or what can be called spring, has arrived and Alex decided it’s time to set out to find his parents. Unlike its predecessor, “Ashen Winter” is a page turner from the very first chapter.  I carried it around for a day, reading every second I could, and would have recommended it to everyone I came across if I could have put it down long enough to speak.  In fact, the only problem I have with it is that there is one point that it becomes a bit repetitive, though I even enjoyed those bits.  Anything to get more of Darla and Alex. Beware, “Ashen Winter” is not for those with weak stomachs.  The attention to detail is incredible and realistic, but that does mean that things are not at all ok in the post-Yellowstone Super-volcanic world.  People under the best of circumstances are capable of horrible things.  Under apocalyptic conditions humanity takes a total nosedive.  Mr. Mullins is not afraid of the gore that ensues. Along with the gore, I feel like this is a perfect manual for an introduction to Doomsday Prepping. The things that are essential make perfect sense, but I would have never thought of them.  In fact, I am fairly certain I will be one of the first to be flensed.  At least I will have Chapstick now.  (Really. Buy Chapstick.) The characters are still wonderfully flawed and well-developed, with more being added in seamlessly.  Darla may be my favorite heroine in literature. If this were the Hunger Games, Darla would take out everyone at the Cornucopia and be elected President of Panem before even leaving the arena.  Even Katniss looks weak in comparison to her.
MyFictionNook More than 1 year ago
I think I finally have the words to do justice to this book. Five big fat stars, first of all.  Ashen Winter starts about six months after Alex and Darla arrive on Alex's uncle's farm in Illinois, after a harrowing trip from Iowa fraught with many perils. Alex's parents are still missing. Alex decides that he needs to go back to Iowa to find them. Of course, Darla won't let him leave alone, so they back up a sled with supplies and begin the long journey back to Alex's hometown. The landscape has changed since they've been out on the road, snow covering most of the ash and food scarcer than ever before.  Mike Mullin keeps Ashen Winter much in the same tone as the first book, and the voices of the character remain familiar. The author continues with the same strong characters to the point of making them feel real, and the reader cannot help but root for them both. He also keeps up the suspense, throwing his characters into dangerous situations, and just when you think they're safe, another challenge rises up before them.  As in Ashfall, Alex and Darla meet those challenges head on, both of them thinking on their feet and adapting to the situation at hand. Alex lets his temper get the best of him on occasion, but that is to be expected from a teenage boy who's facing nearly insurmountable obstacles. And yet, what impressed me in this character, is that he perseveres.  Alyssa, a new character introduced in this book, is a counterpart to Darla in some sense, and I was concerned that Alex would delve into fickle teenagedom. I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged when Mike Mullin didn't let that happen. Alyssa's story also felt real, and while what happened to her was one of my fears for Darla, I was impressed by the delicateness with which the author approached that subject. I was reminded again and again that in the face of a huge crisis, humanity tends to split into two factions - those who will help a fellow human in any way possible, and those who will take advantage of those weaker than themselves. Impotent rage was one of the many emotions the author's word evoked.  I also very much enjoyed getting to know Ben. The author did a fantastic job writing about someone in the autism spectrum, and his depiction of Ben felt very real. As did Alex's reaction to the idiosyncrasies someone with autism would display.  I continue to be impressed with the amount of research this author put into his novels, which serves to enhance the plot tremendously and make the book feel exceptionally realistic.  The writing remains crisp and precise, and spot on for a teenage boy going through a traumatic experience that requires all his cunning and all his reserves to get to where he needs to be.  There are some sad events, and one plot point kept me riveted to the pages until the resolution close to the end.  I feared for Alex and Darla, I cried with them, smiled with them, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. Spring 2014 cannot come soon enough!!! As a sidenote: I read both Ashfall and Ashen Winter in one weekend, and it's a credit to the author's ability that reading these books created nightmares and a deep urge to start hoarding food and supplies for my own family, just in case such a disaster ever happens in my life time.  This book and its predecessor are some of the best books I've read in the YA genre. If you like Young Adult books and are interested in post-apocalyptic scenes, this is a series for you. Give it a chance. I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return, but in this case absolutely deserved.
librarysusie More than 1 year ago
If you thought Ashfall was a thrill ride you ain’t seen nothing yet! This one will grab you from page one and won’t let you go. I couldn’t put this book down, every time I thought it would slow down so I could go to bed it hits another rush and sucked me right back in! Mike Mullins sure knows how to write a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat! I know I sound like the blurbs on the cover of a book but I just can’t help it, if you haven’t started this series yet now is the time to do so! This is such a different dystopian because it is something that could truly happen in our lifetime and feels so real. In Ashfall the super volcano at Yellowstone has erupted and thrown the world as we know it into chaos Ashen Winter starts 10 months after this event and our world is in turmoil. The ashfall has caused an ashen winter it is June but it has been below zero for months and the sun has yet to show itself through the ash. Wow what an adventure this was and an emotional rollercoaster ride. Alex goes through hell again when he sets out to find his parents but things go horribly wrong and Alex is once again in a fight for his life and the lives of others. We see some familiar characters and some new ones not sure yet how I feel about Alyssa but her brother Ben is great I look forward to more of him! This is a great series, Mike Mullins writes a book that keeps you reading from page one and keeps you enthralled till the last page, which I must warn you is a cliffhanger, the main storyline of this book is wrapped up well but there is big things in the future and it sounds like the next book will be just as thrilling. This book really makes me feel afraid because of the realness of the situation, and sadness when thinking our government would act like it does in this book in response to a natural disaster in the US. The worst part of getting an early review copy is that it is an even longer wait for the next one!! I can’t wait for more in this series! 5 Stars I received an early review copy from netgalley
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookWorm221 More than 1 year ago
Magnificent continuation to Ashfall! In Ashen Winter we find ourselves again with Alex and Darla and after some much needed rest and family time they are ready to leave in search of Alex’s parents. The journey is a non stop fight for their lives, every chapter was fast paced and full of events which made the book read faster than normal, it was addicting, the need to keep reading and to find out what was going on with Alex and Darla. We also get to meet a couple of new characters Alyssa and Ben are of amazing help to Alex and Darla and their journey, Ben is a wonderful character and one I was happy to read about, he’s perspective is unique and it give a completely new sense to the forming relationships of the group. In the first book it was obvious that Darla was in a lot more control that Alex, he still felt like a kid to me, but in this one he definitely grows up and even though he did act like a brat sometimes I could still tell that he was growing into a man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing! This book really keeps you on your toes just like the previous one did but definitely takes a different spin on things. Fantastic 2nd book to a fantastic series.
MasterRed92 More than 1 year ago
This book made me emotional. I was a nervous wreck reading this book, I almost walked into a reversing car because I was walking around reading the book instead of watching what I was doing. Ashen Winter is probably the best book I have ever read. I worked a 12 hour shift and finished this book either side of it, it has caused me mass sleep deprivation and it was all worth it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it.
readragon More than 1 year ago
Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ShannonODonnell More than 1 year ago
This book is a roller coaster of action and peril and oh-so-believable devastation. Picking up where the incredible ASHFALL left off, Mike Mullin continues to thrill us with the frighteningly real world we could encounter should the Yellowstone super-volcano actually erupt. Alex and Darla continue to tug at our heart strings as we root for them to survive and ultimately find Alex's parents. I love this series. My students love this series. I highly recommend!
seldombites More than 1 year ago
In Ashen Winter we return to an America changed by a natural disaster on a massive scale. As hunger and famine set in, the baser side of human nature sets in. After a raid on the farm that gives Alex cause for concern over his parents fate, he and Darla set forth in an attempt to find them. But the world has changed, even compared to their earlier journey through the countryside. This time, the two of them face challenges such as cannibals, slave-traders and the ever present danger of FEMA patrols. This book wasn't quite as good as Ashfall, but I can't really place my finger on why that is. Nevertheless, it was still an awesome read and I am really looking forward to getting hold of Sunrise, the final book in the trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looks good thanks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seriously? You must have something better to do than float around this place and rudely comment on different things. Join a club, climb a mountain, l dun care. Just scram. Comprendo?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
May i join
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bought a signed copy of book one on ebay :) How about a book 3??!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put down Ashfall, the first book in the series, so I impatiently bought this the moment I finished book One. However, like so many sequels, this was a disappointment. Book One leaves the reader hanging so its natural to want to read Ashen Winter. Ashen Winter also leaves the reader hanging, to wait until book three comes out in 2014. In this book there are lots of words but not a lot of action. No doubt you will need to read it, only because Ashfall is such a page turner. But don't get your hopes up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really great! First book was good and so was this one! You definately read this.