“Most people don't realize how important librarians are. I ran across a book recently which suggested that the peace and prosperity of a culture was solely related to how many librarians it contained. Possibly a slight overstatement. But a culture that doesn't value its librarians doesn't value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?”
Neil Gaiman

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dystopian Disaster



Ashen Winter
By Mike Mullen

I am not often a fan of disaster movies or disaster novel, but Mike Mullen has written a series that has changed my mind.  Ashfall and Ashen Winter are both dystopian and disaster novels.  They are well-written, have incredible plots and characters, and are thought-provoking.  It’s clear that Mike did his research prior to writing these novels.  They are “meaty” and draw on historic scenarios.  In addition, the landscape and hardships described are spot on for life where the winters are long and cold.

In Ashfall, the story begins as teenage Alex refuses to go to Illinois with his family for the weekend to his Uncle Paul’s farm and instead stays home as they head off without him.  He is sitting at his computer when something hits house and knocks it silly.  The next thing he knows, he’s scrambling like crazy to get out of his room and out of the house because he realizes it’s on fire.  He seeks refuge with his neighbors and before long they all figure out a huge volcano has exploded and all is covered in ash.  The story proceeds and ultimately Alex goes off on his own heading toward Illinois in search of his family.  Ashen Winter is the continuation of the story. 

Both books literally had me unable to stop reading.  I could hardly believe that a story about a volcano exploding could pack so much into one book, let alone two.  The reality is that Mike was able to turn his story into so much more than a story about a volcano exploding.  He has written a story about coming of age and family love.  He has written an exploration of human nature.  He has written about the response of government organizations to disasters.  He has written about survival – and he has written about so much more.  Ashfall and Ashfall Winter are books to be read and talked about for many years to come.

Melissa Singleton Josef, MLIS

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