by Mike Mullin
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Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.
For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to search for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.
For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my species. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn’t taken our humanity. No, we’d given that up on our own.
Oh my gosh, guys…this book was SO good!!! I think I’m only shocked because, well, I kept putting it off and putting it off and then my wonderful Jen bought this for me for Christmas. Turns out??? I am a total MORON for not reading this before now!!!! I could smack myself for not reading this sooner-SERIOUSLY.
Hunger of choice is a painful luxury; hunger of necessity is terrifying torture.
What is so amazing about this book, among many things, is that it reads as a day-to-day survival story. I was so happy when I began to realize that we were going to get to see Alex struggling (I mean it…he literally struggled not to die all the time lol) every single day and that it wasn’t, oh, I don’t know…forced?? He literally broke down everything he did. It almost almost reminded of a Hunger Games type of style, though I don’t know why. If this isn’t what you like, then this story is not for you. Every day is a new hurdle, because even if you survive the night, you have to get up and face the elements the next day-whether snow, the falling ash you can’t breathe in lest you die, rain, or a mixture of the ash and snow or rain, he had to face it every day with no food, water, and no shelter. He was scavenging every moment just to get by-one day he ate skittles from an abandoned gas station. Skittles. Can you imagine? You are dehydrated, exhausted, starving, fighting to keep going and then you find a gas station….but all you find are skittles. Again-SKITTLES.
“Well, I couldn’t.” I raised my voice a bit and shot clipped words at her. “And I’m not an idiot. And this is getting old. I know you’ve probably got ash in your panties, but do you have to take it out on me?”
She pushed herself out from under the hood. “Huh? What did you-”
“Ash in your-well, you seem so irritated at me all the time.”
“Ash in my-” She laughed. “Yeah, I do. And it is irritating. And what are you doing thinking about my panties, anyway?”
Sigh. I’d have been dead. But, even with all his various brushes with death (I mean, there were a multitude of them), he manages to find the one thing that will give him his extra edge-Darla. Now, I’m not sure how people feel about love in a dystopian world (Um, I’m all for it, clearly) but this wasn’t really what I was expecting when I started this book. Darla wasn’t your average girl. She was self-sufficient, strong, intelligent, flawed, and loyal. Are you thinking she’s the damsel in distress?? Hmm. Lol. Why don’t you switch those roles around and you’ll be closer to what it’s really like…and I loved every minute of it.
My knees and arms hung over the edge of the couch. The room was bright-we’d built the fire up before we turned in. I stared into the flames for a while.
“You awake?” I asked, my voice pitched low.
“Can I ask you something?”
“You just did.”
“Obviously, you can ask me something. You just did. You asked if you could ask me something.”
“Do you know you’re annoying?” I punctuated this comment by elbowing her in the side.
Darla was so rude to Alex from day one. It’s not unheard of that we meet an abrasive female lead who doesn’t take to the hero right away, but she really doesn’t hold anything back, which I found to be utterly refreshing. More than once something serious would be going on and out of nowhere she’d be shouting obscenities at him and I would immediately bust out laughing. In a dark, cold world where there is little chance of survival, it’s nice to see that asshole-ness doesn’t just wither away and die with humanity.
Darla grabbed the woman’s coat and got right in her face. “We might die because of all the stuff my stupid, softhearted boyfriend is leaving you. So don’t you die, too. You take this stuff, and you keep yourself and your kids alive. You hear?”
I didn’t care much for being called stupid and softhearted. The boyfriend bit I could live with.
And that’s not even mentioning Alex’s snark. The inner workings of his mind are much like how I’d imagine mine would be if I were in book form-short, to the point, sporadic, snarky, and not without humorous thoughts that should NEVER be said aloud. From the minute I picked up this story, I knew that Alex was a character I was really going to enjoy. Privileged and a bit naive, I knew he was in for a world of awakening, because nothing would ever be the same again. He was a character I loved and rooted for, and he never ceased to make me laugh. And once he met Darla, he became a boy that was so sweet and so smitten that I couldn’t help but to be enthralled by their mismatched romance.
Ask someone to lock you in a box with no light, nobody to talk to, and then have them beat on it with a tree limb to make a hideous booming sound. Do that for hours, and if you’re still not bat-shit crazy, you’ll know how we felt.
This book isn’t without it’s triggers. It was so realistic. I immediately was googling ‘Yellowstone National Park Super Volcano’ the minute bad things began to happen. And OMG has this book alarmed me. I don’t think I have ever googled about events in a book I’m reading…ever. So this was new for me. There were dark moments where blood and pain were all Alex knew. Loneliness suffocated him as he searched for his family. Companionship was indirectly found when he met this girl who was unwilling to help a stranger out but did anyway, and even then she sometimes didn’t act like she cared about him. Rape, gangs, violence, and, obviously the big one, a realistic natural disaster that will make you think twice about where you live. These are all things that you need to know about, and I’m probably forgetting some-OH, HOW COULD I FORGET. Bunnies. If you love bunnies….I dunno if you’d like this book lol. Or any animal, really. This book is about survival and mean people-take out of that what you will.
So, saying all that, I adored this book. Even amidst all the people you can’t trust and the horrible world they now live in, there were some very sweet and deep moments. This book wasn’t without it’s innocence and young love…in fact, those are my favorite types of romances, and they are rarely done correctly-So, of course I was obsessed with this one. I am so so happy I finally gave this one a chance…It would likely still be on my TBR if my lovely Jen hadn’t taken the initiative to gift me this, so I have her to thank, in a sense. Thanks, Lovely, for knowing me better than I know myself. *Muah*