The various recent photographs from the set of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (hey Finnick!) have put me in the mood for something dystopian. Of course, there’s no shortage of dystopian books these days, from Veronica Roth’s Divergent to Ally Condie’s Matched to Kat Zhang’s What’s Left of Me. While I’m a fan of many of them, my recommendation this week happens to be the most recent one I picked up.
The Choice: Ashfall by Mike Mullin
You’ll like this if: You’re a fan of The Hunger Games.
What it’s about: What if the supervolcano under Yellowstone erupted? 15-year-old Alex Halprin is home alone when his house is struck by a flying piece of volcanic debris jettisoned over 900 miles from the site of the eruption. The ashfall starts shortly after, blanketing his Iowa home in total darkness. With his family 140 miles away, Alex must journey through the thick ash to find them. But the world is no longer the place it once was and people will do anything to survive…
Why you should read it: For me, there’s nothing more terrifying than apocalypse that could actually happen. Not to say that we won’t be watching kids fight to death in the future, but the supervolcano under Yellowstone is a much more real and immediate threat than the Hunger Games. Mullin is just so good at keeping you on the edge of your seat. Every chapter feels like it ends in a cliffhanger. What I love most, however, is that unlike a lot of dystopian or post-apocalyptic books, Ashfall lets you see the devastation that causes civilization to collapse. A good chunk at the beginning of the novel deals with the natural disaster itself and Mullin’s clearly done his research (as a note at the back of the book explains). When I think of a volcano, I think lava, but Mullin shows you all the other effects — like the noise, the ash and the absolute darkness. Even more frightening is how quickly civilization falls apart. You do not want to read this book alone at night. Bottom line? If you’re a sucker for road trips, cannibals, and boy scout skills, then this is the book for you.