Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: Sunrise - Mike Mullin

Sunrise by Mike Mullin
Series: Ashfall Trilogy #3
Genre: YA, post-apocalyptic
Published on April 15, 2014
Published by Tanglewood Press
Pages: 466
Read From: 4.11.14 - 4.13.14

The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other and gangs of cannibals roam the countryside. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors' constant companions.

When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I do continue to like the simplistic, themed look of the cover art for this trilogy. Not sure what a piece of green silk is doing on the front (yes, I know it's supposed to simulate growing things, but why not then just put growing things on the cover? Green silk doesn't feature into the story in any capacity).

Characters: Darla and Alex haven't necessarily gone back to being likable, but they didn't irritate me like they did in Ashen Winter. I will never count them among protagonists that I care about or even like, but I didn't scream or roll my eyes every time one of them said or did something. And considering how I felt about them in Ashen Winter, such mild indifference is a big improvement. What changed? Well, Alex had to finally step in as a leader to put aside all of his adolescent wants and needs. That's right, people - he and Darla finally stop looking for condoms! Instead, Alex spends a lot of time searching for jewelry stores in hostile territory because he wants to give Darla a ring. . . . .Romantic, maybe, but stupid considering they should be searching for food. They turn their attention to the survival of them and the people that come to live in their little community, and I was finally able to ignore that they were just teens, because they stopped acting teenish. Alyssa, on the other hand . . . I would have been perfectly okay with the community using her as an alternative source of food. Alyssa seemed to be there merely to put tension between Darla and Alex, and romantic tension is never necessary in a novel. I don't care if it's realistic - I hate it. Ben didn't get on my nerves quite as much because he wasn't around a great deal. I intensely disliked Alex's mom, who turned all hateful and annoying every time she and Alex talked. Again, her sole purpose seemed to merely cause unnecessary strife. The "main" villain - Red - was . . . odd. He felt kind of out of place, given the story's setting. I can't say I didn't dislike him - I mean, the guy totally carried out his threats and was scary beyond all Hell. But I couldn't quite . . . . get him because he felt like he didn't belong in this story. And to be honest, his monologuing got old. Red is handy with knives, and he likes to tell his victims what arteries and other vital things he'll slice through if they don't listen to him. Kinda cool in a creepy way, but try wading through that many Latin medical words when you're already a little bit bored with the book.

The Romance:
Darla and I cut the ersatz cake and smeared it all over each other's faces. I held her tightly and cleaned off her face with my tongue, while Rebecca looked on in disgust. (pg. 422) 
So, yeah, I'm still not a fan of the romance, but it really is toned down quite a bit more from other installments. Darla and Alex are still together, and they're still doing whatever they can without getting Darla pregnant, but everyone is really too busy surviving for the Author to cover their trysts as much as he did in previous books. Thank goodness. There's tension in their relationship, of course, because of Alyssa, who keeps plastering herself on Alex (and Alex won't tell her shove off). But overall, the romance didn't bother me as much.

Plot: The world is still in the grip of the Yellowstone supervolcano explosion, and learning how to survive isn't getting any easier. Flensers - gangs of cannibals - are controlling more and more of the countryside, and FEMA has backed out completely. This is a time for communities to band together, but instead, they've turned enemies. The town of Warren has been taken over by a gang from Stockton, and it's all-out war between them. Hate to tell you guys this, but the war is short-lived. It's more like one or two skirmishes that results in severe casualties - so massacres, really. The rest of Sunrise is spent with Alex building a community near a windmill farm for people who want to live peacefully. Refugees from other towns, Warrenites who are tired of their fickle mayor, reformed flensers - anyone who is willing to work hard and abide by the rules of the community. Alex and Darla go out on a lot of scavenging missions that result in some nasty run-ins - and Stockton and its gang feature quite a bit, despite the war being short-lived. The problems between Warren and Stockton are an ever-present looming threat; another volcano, if you will, that the Reader knows is going to explode at some point. So all in all, Sunrise has something that Ashen Winter just didn't have - tension. Yes, Sunrise drags - and let me tell you, this entire trilogy has given me a vendetta against kale. I don't care if the supervolcano explodes and that's all there is to eat. I will not eat kale ever in my entire life. I will starve first. But once again, I did find myself enjoying the survivalist aspects of the story, and I liked the danger that they ran into. This book got downright brutal at times, and I started to get seriously worried when things seemed to be going too smoothly.

Believability: Once again, the Author presents believable survival skills and a somewhat plausible natural disaster scenario. I still can't fault him anywhere in this area.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. Still nothing to complain about; the writing style is neither good nor especially bad. I'm a little tired of being in Alex's head.

Content: 11 s-words, 5 g--damns. One of the girls ends up being a lesbian, which was totally random and unnecessary and stupid. It didn't even become a major plot point; she just was.

Conclusion: Unsurprisingly, the conclusion is a little abrupt and has no real resolve. This isn't a complaint, merely an observation. I suppose the Author couldn't resolve an entire natural disaster scenario in three books - not one this massive. I can't tell you how surprised I am to be saying this, but Sunrise does actually make it worth wading through Ashen Winter. It goes back to being relatively interesting and eventful - and it doesn't just focus on Alex looking for condoms and flensers making lewd jokes. There's survival and bloody scrapes. And I'm so glad this trilogy turned around.

Recommended Audience: Guy-read, eighteen-and-up, great for fans of post-apocalyptic and survival/natural disaster novels.

Others in This Trilogy:
2)Ashen Winter

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