Sunrise by Mike Mullin

A complimentary advanced reader copy of this book was provided by Tanglewood Press in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!) My review was in no way influenced by this consideration.

If there is one single book that I started out this year looking forward to the most, it’s Sunrise. I read Ashfall just about a year ago, and I just fell completely in love with it. I’d read science fiction before, but not realistic sci-fi–nothing like the world Mike Mullin creates. There is just no way not to be engrossed by his story: a teenage boy, left home alone for the weekend, has his world (literally) rocked when the supervolcano underneath Yellowstone explodes. The disaster and survival scenarios created by the eruption are extreme, terrifying, and so entirely likely that it’s hard not to find yourself stepping back from the book, now and then, and attempting to play them out for yourself: if something like this happened to me, what on earth would I do?

The entire Ashfall series is downright gripping, but it’s the relationships that keep me reading. In Sunrise, Alex and Darla are still going strong. I won’t go into too much detail again here, but I’ll just say that Darla isn’t your typical love-interest heroine, and she’s one of my favorite characters in fiction. She’s the embodiment of smart, practical and determined. I love her for her guts, and her unwillingness to let Alex back down. I found myself really appreciating Alex more in this book, though. I’d always liked him–I thought he meant well, even when he screwed up, royally. It seemed like his heart was always in the right place. In Sunrise, though, it would seem that Alex finally grows into his heart. He matures. His choices are a little more circumspect, and he begins to weigh his responsibility for other people against his immediate impulses. I like him so much more for that growth. I also really enjoyed the return of Dr. McCarthy and Belinda, Ben, and Ed. Watching them interact with Alex and each other was rewarding. I love how meaty and satisfying Mullin’s characters are–even those that are fairly tangential to the story.

As for the plot: THIS BOOK IS BONKERS. And I mean that in the best possible way! I’ll admit it: the blurb on the back cover of the book calls this an “epic finale,” and I thought “….mmm…we’ll see.” Oh, it is. Epic is in no way an exaggeration. Sunrise starts right off with a pell-mell battle at gunpoint–the kind of thing that leaves you reading with your eyes wide open, and the book just keeps going. There are 500+ pages of crazy stuff happening, here, and if you can put it down at all, during waking hours, you have my congratulations. All of it makes sense, though, in the Ashfall world, and it’s paced really well, with some nice breaks in between the insanity to give you a little rest before the next bout. I will also promise you a thoroughly satisfying conclusion, and some truly excellent writing. I know Mullin has something new and awesome in the works (come back for an interview with him on Thursday!) and I’m excited to read it. He’s a fantastic, compelling author, and I’ve really enjoyed this series.

This book would be rated PG-13 for language and survival/battle type violence. 4.5 stars. Sunrise releases today and is on shelves now! Go pick up a copy. I know you’ll love it.

4.5 Stars

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