Review: Ashen Winter

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Ashen WinterAshen Winter by Mike Mullin
Series: Ashfall #2
Published by Tanglewood Press on October 16, 2012
Genres: Adventure, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Pages: 576
Format: ARC
Source: BEA

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 series. 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.

First Sentence: “Ten months had passed since I’d last seen the sun.”

Ashen Winter is massive for a YA book, but don’t let that put you off of reading this series. The 570 pages go by very quickly. I read most of this in just one evening. Mullin’s book is jam-packed with action, explosions, cannibals, fighting and car chases. If you liked Ashfall, you will love Ashen Winter for its even colder vision of the future.

The thing that I love most about this series is Darla. She is straight up awesome. I also love that she was written by a male author. Alex is strong and does a lot of cool stunts in Ashen Winter, but he knows that his girlfriend is stronger and more capable than he is. And he loves it. You know I love a powerful heroine, and I love even more when people respect her for that strength.

Of course, this brings me to my second point: if I were Darla, I would have dropped Alex’s ass so fast. The boy is like a magnet for destruction. He has all the worst plans. You can pretty much assume that anything that he has he will either give away or lose before he hardly gets to do anything with it. Except for his physical capabilities, the boy has no damn survival skills. Worse, he reacts entirely on instinct, without considering the inevitable consequences. People you don’t know about to be attacked and you don’t have weapons? Clearly you should step in. This could not possibly end poorly. Oh wait, yes it will, every single time. The journey is pretty much detour after detour as Alex continually makes the wrong choices.

One of the most monumental logic fails is the basic premise for Ashen Winter. In case you don’t remember, at the end of Ashfall Darla and Alex finally made it to his Uncle’s farm in Warren, only to discover that his parents’ had set out to search for him. Bandits attack the farm and happen to have the gun Alex’s dad was using. Thus, Alex decides that he simply must go hunt for his parents. This irritated me so much, because going to find people was what got us into this situation in the first place. Had his parents not gone searching for him, they would all be together now. The parents know where Warren is, and you don’t know for sure where they are, so STAY PUT.

Despite my issue with Alex and his (lack of) reasoning, I really enjoyed reading Ashfall from beginning to end. Mullin’s world building continues to be excellent and make me sincerely hope something like this doesn’t happen (at least in my lifetime). Cannibalism has increased. Not only that, but as towns that were previously friendly run increasingly low on food, they begin to attack other towns. It’s a person eat person world out there.

Adding some spice to Ashen Winter are a host of new characters. Although initially skeptical, I came to really appreciate Alyssa, who could have been a terrible stereotypical slut-shaming character. I hope to see her really develop in the next book. I also really enjoyed Ben, Alyssa’s autistic and strategically brilliant brother. There are a couple of other folks that turn out to be surprisingly interesting, but I’ll leave those for you to find and enjoy.

Readers that like their dystopias full of action will not want to miss out on Mullin’s Ashfall Trilogy. I highly recommend this series to those who enjoy David MacInnis Gill’s Black Hole Sun.

Favorite Quote:

“I obeyed. When Darla was that angry, doing anything else was insane.
She started stripping my clothing, muttering all the while, ‘Stupid, pigheaded, obstinate, obnoxious, oviparous, egg-sucking boy.’ I both laid and sucked eggs? That didn’t make sense. Whatever.”

17 responses to “Review: Ashen Winter”

  1. Adriana says:

    I didn’t know Ashfall had a sequel. Not having read Ashfall yet I didn’t read your review but thanks for letting me know (:

  2. I’m down with downright awesome character, so Darla sounds great.
    I haven’t read Ashfall yet, but thinking about it.

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  3. Lilian says:

    “570 pages go by very quickly. I read most of this in just one evening.”
    That’s because you’re not human.

    “People you don’t know about to be attacked and you don’t have weapons? Clearly you should step in. This could not possibly end poorly. Oh wait, yes it will, every single time.”
    NOT UNLESS YOU ARE THE HULK! But otherwise, it’s a stupid idea.

    I have no intention of starting the series especially since Ashfall just sounded gritty. And cannibalism doesn’t make it any better.

    • Christina says:

      You have figured out my secret!

      I AM THE HULK. Oh wait, nope. Not the hulk. Forgot for a moment.

      Awww, your poor unable-to-read-about-cannibals self. Oh, you should also avoid Peadar O Guilin’s dystopias.

    • Lilian says:


      Shoot, and I was about to ask for an autograph.
      Sucks to be the Hulk, all those clothes getting torn apart…and that is why The Hulk can’t be a girl!

      I don’t know if my tummy an stomach cannibalism, so I’ve avoided it. But who knows, maybe one day when I’m feeling particularly brave.

    • Christina says:


      Right? Convenient that Hulk never pops his pants all the way off, though.

      Maybe one day. The cannibal descriptions in this one really aren’t that bad, from what I recall. I am fairly inured to gross things, though.

    • Lilian says:

      Are you mocking me?

      He must wear some special brand of elastic pants. I can just see many jeans company dying to have the Hulk endorse their brand.

      Inured to gross things…except cockroaches?

    • Christina says:


      *SHUDDERS* Why would you do that to me?!?!?!?! I am not inured in real life!

  4. Steena says:

    This series is on my list now but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Darla sounds quite a bit like Zoe Washburne – “The legs! Oh, yeah! I definitely have to say it was her legs. You can put that down! Her legs, and right where her legs meet her back. That – actually that whole area. That and – and above it. Have you seen what she wears? Forget about it. Have you ever been with a warrior woman?” Who also, coincidentally, did not choose the survivalist of the group.

    • Christina says:

      LOL! Love it! She’s like a Zoe/Kaylee cross, because she’s also a total genius with mechanical things.

      “You with the bathing. Me with the watching you bathe.”

      WASH! *weeps*

  5. aLilLacey says:

    You had me at cannibal…..not in a good way though. If you haven’t figured out by now i don’t do gross. Is there a lot of that because Iggy sounds interesting otherwise. The cover is really cool too.

  6. Erika says:

    This sounds like a great series and I can’t wait to read it. Just won Ashfall in a giveaway so I hope to soon. Thanks for the review! That is lengthy!

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