Brief Thoughts on My December Reads (2013)

*WARNING! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!*

December 2013 Books Collage

Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien – 3.5/5

The basis of this story is an interesting concept that is just realistic enough to be scary. The ‘haves’ are living lives of luxury inside the city walls, while the ‘have-nots’ struggle to make ends meet outside. But all is not as it seems inside the city. Despite a monthly tribute of newborn babies from outside the wall, genetic diversity has shrunk, causing an epidemic of haemophilia.

Birthmarked is a decent read, but not a brilliant one. It was interesting enough to read all the way through, but not so great that I will be looking to finish the series.

After the Fires Went Out: Coyote by Regan Wolfrom – 1.5/5

I normally love apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, but I could not even finish this one. While it is technically well-written (no editing errors or things of that sort), it was boring, boring, boring! I will definitely not be reading the rest of the series.

This or That Survival Debate: A Rip-Roaring Game of Either/Or Questions by Erik Heinrich – 2/5

Kids might find this book interesting. I did not. Maybe if it were just the questions, it may have been OK, but I found all the supporting information (while informative) to be distracting.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin – 4.5/5

Apocalyptic & post-apocalyptic fiction is one of my favourite genres, so I began this book enthusiastically. I was not disappointed. As usual, this young adult book was written better than many adult books that I have read.

The protagonist in this novel is a sixteen year old boy who is left home alone for the weekend after arguing with his mother over a road-trip to visit rellies. Unfortunately for him, his timing could not have been worse.

Just hours after the departure of his family, he is fighting for survival as the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupts. After riding out the worst of the eruption with some neighbours, Alex decides to leave to find his family.

He soon finds that the world, and the people in it, are no longer what they once were, and survival will be even harder than he imagined.

This is the best post-apocalyptic book I have read in a long time. With no technical errors to distract from his superb story-telling, Mike Mullin allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the world that Alex inhabits. Mullin’s style reminds me of the kind of tale one hears sitting around the campfire, listening to an oral history of the world as it was.

Ashfall was so enthralling that I read it one sitting. I began reading it in the afternoon and finished the following morning. I was so into the book that I didn’t even notice until I closed the book and saw the dawn sun peeking through my window!

I definitely recommend this book to adults and teens alike.

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin – 4/5

In Ashen Winter we return to an America changed by a natural disaster on a massive scale. As hunger and famine set in, the baser side of human nature sets in. After a raid on the farm that gives Alex cause for concern over his parents fate, he and Darla set forth in an attempt to find them.

But the world has changed, even compared to their earlier journey through the countryside. This time, the two of them face challenges such as cannibals, slave-traders and the ever present danger of FEMA patrols.

This book wasn’t quite as good as Ashfall, but I can’t really place my finger on why that is. Nevertheless, it was still an awesome read and I am really looking forward to getting hold of Sunrise, the final book in the trilogy.

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