***This is book 2 in the series, do not read on if you've not read book 1 - there will be spoilers***
I raved and raved about Ashfall, it was an original piece of work in a crowded market, and Alex was a great lead that the reader cared about, so I was excited to read the next installment.
Ashen Winter takes place a few months after Darla and Alex have arrived at his uncles farm, only find his parents were not there. Things are going well, they have kale and are exchanging it for food from the town, but then some bandits arrive, and they are carrying Alex's Dad's gun - so its time for another journey, back to where they came from, via the FEMA camps to try and find his parents. The journey leads to the usual combat, fights for life and various encounters with flensers.
Ashen Winter should of been a book that I devoured in one sitting, it took a little longer, in fact I started it a few months ago and forgot to keep going. Thats not a good sign. It does take a long time to get going, but once it does everything that pulls you into Ashfall is there. But this time it was a little less believable, Alex is one boy yet he manages to fight gangs, military and a vast amount of other unsavory characters, on his own (yet doesn't know how to drive a truck). The obsessive relationship he has with Darla is also a little annoying, I felt less love for Alex this time, he was far less likable. But that is the way characters grow and his stubborn, selfishness certainly added to the book, even if he did need a slap from time to time.
Darla also loses something in this book, her feistiness is dampened a little, she's not as ballsy either, she has her moments, but both characters felt a little worn down, whether thats by the world their in, or due to a break in the writing I don't know. There were also a few continuity issues, primarily Darla's hair - they had their heads shaved when they arrived due to nits, but then Alex refers to Darla's long brown hair (mistaking her for another girl, based on it at one point) on several occasions, quite how Darla has hair that can grow from shaved to long in a few months, in starvation conditions is beyond me.
The addition of some new characters was welcome, but I really wish Mullin hadn't gone into the love triangle territory, its lazy writing and not needed in this series.
The good in the book, is everything that was found in Ashfall and more, the nasty, mean, selfish side of humanity, the world with a shifting power center and the effects of nature are all present here and are the stars of the show.
I've been a bit tough on the book as I expected so much, I fear that this was a filler, that the big bang will be in book three, and to get there the characters needed this little journey, I'm hoping so anyway. As a stand alone book, it'd be 4.5 stars easy, but sadly its been knocked down a little due to the amazing book one, undone by the series own success. Still the series is one that is highly recommended.