By Mike Mullen
Tanglewood Publishing, $16.95, 466 pages

Everyone has read or seen post-apocalyptic stories – the world changes and the survivors are left to fend for themselves and create a new world order.  In Ashfall, author Mike Mullin’s first novel, the threat is real – an enormous eruption of the volcano at Yellowstone National Park, causing explosions and disasters for thousands of miles.  For fifteen-year-old Alex, the disaster is twofold – the volcano and being separated from his family who went away for the weekend when it erupted.  Determined to find them, Alex sets off to find the family they were visiting.  Along the way, he picks up a traveling companion in Darla, a now-orphaned teenager and finds more strength in himself than he ever realized he had.  While the concept of this novel is new (and as someone who lives near a volcano, terrifying), the story takes fairly typical turns following the eruption:  as Alex travels to his family, he meets a series of people who are either kind and well-meaning or increasingly psychotic and dangerous (and most of whom fall into the latter category).  The characters, too, feel generic and one-dimensional; combined with the plot issues, this book leaves the reader with a sense of redundancy.

Reviewed by Barbara Cothern