What is the summary for Ashfall by Mike Mullin?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ashfall - A Summary

Ashfall. The Yellowstone National Park supervolcano, exploding three times in 2.1 million years, erupts in near-future modern times. Boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are replaced by blankets ash spewed out of the supervolcano's gaping maw covering northern America in a choking, ashen cloud of darkness that spawns violence as, day by day, people struggle to sustain the lives they find they still have in the wreckage of an aftermath.

In Mike Mullin's debut novel, fifteen year old Alex was staying at home in Cedar Falls, Iowa, while his mom, dad and little sister went for a visit to his uncle's farm in Warren, Illinois; 140 miles away. Had they known about the impending eruption from the Yelowstone supervolcano--a reality of fact in a fiction of terror--Alex would never have been left in Cedar Falls.

When Cedar Falls collapses into ruin, panic and abandonment, Alex, who has taken refuge at first with the neighbors, sets his mind and his course toward Warren to reunite by force of will and grit with his parents and sister, 140 miles away with no means of communication between them--only a foot of ash and a darkened heaven between them.

Among the desperate people hunting for food, water and shelter are convicts who have escaped from prisons that collapsed along with everything else after the supervolcano came to life. A convict named Target comes into conflict with Alex and attempts to kill him with an axe. Wounded, not killed, Alex escapes and plunges for shelter into a barn that turns out to be the shelter of Mrs. Edmunds and her daughter Darla, who possesses a surprising mechanical ingenuity. Darla and her mother, Gloria, nurse Alex back to health but Target finds them, attacks them, killing Gloria, but Darla and Alex escape the barn and together take up Alex's interrupted trek to Warren.

On the way, the are confined in a brutal refugee camp, designed to crowd and starve, but escape and reach Warren only to learn that, after all their struggles, Alex's parents returned five weeks earlier to Cedar Falls to find him, although he is reunited with his sister who was left at the farm. Darla's ingenuity leads to the implementation of a system of economy among the survivors in Warren in which food becomes payment for services rendered and in which a futures commodity trading market is built up around staple food items. Darla and Alex begin to build themselves a new if uncertain future.    

Mike Mullin - A Biography

Mike Mullin is a twenty-first century author whose debut Young Adult novel Ashfall was published in 2011. Mullin has followed Ashfall with five other Young Adult novels, which include two that complete the Ashfall Trilogy.

Mike Mullin has a ready sense of humor, which he regularly targets on himself, and a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives with his wife in Indianapolis, Indiana, and makes it a point to emphasizes that, while he lives with cats, they are his wife's cats.

Mullin has a seriously respectable background, though. Along with being a page in the U.S. House of Representatives while in high school, he was also an exchange student in the Rotary Club exchange student program. Mullin earned his college degree in political science, with minors in economics and Latin American studies. Afterward, his postgraduate studies gained him a Master of Business Administration degree. His love all through his schooling was of writing fiction.

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