Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

I was so excited to discover Ashen Winter was finally on the shelves! I was absolutely nuts for Ashfall, Mullins’ first book. It was one of those that I enjoyed when I read it, but it stuck with me, so that I’d find myself thinking about it while my mind was idle. The whole idea of a couple of teenagers having to strike out on their own during a harsh and unfamiliar natural disaster, fighting for food and warmth and survival? Yeah, it’s crazy. It gets a little burned in your brain.

Ashen Winter picks up immediately where Ashfall left off, with Darla and Alex at his uncle’s house, trying to decide whether to go after his parents. Crises ensue, and things get crazy. Buuuuuuut….

I’m very sad to say that I just wasn’t in love with Ashen Winter. I think the first book’s charm lay in the strength of the relationship between Alex and Darla, and how they were forced to rely on each other while undergoing such a bizarre set of circumstances. Darla is the far more interesting character, and I really enjoy her voice and strength.

Sadly, Darla is absent for much of this book, which focuses on Alex, and his mismanaged travels to find and save her. So much of the book seems like repeating episodes: Alex meets bad guys, Alex fights bad guys, Alex gets saved at the last minute by a friend. He seems closer to his goal, but then something bad happens. Repeat ad-nauseum. There just isn’t enough else going on in the novel to break things up, and it’s a little tedious in the middle.

All that said, I love these characters, and I have to know what happens to them. Also, I really appreciated the addition of Ben. His character was delightful, and I hope we’ll see more of him in book 3.

Strong-ish sexuality for a YA novel. Some mild language. 3 stars.

3 Stars

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