Wow. I may need to sign up for some Taekwondo classes. That was awesome.There was a time when I used to watch all those Discovery Channel science shows. Shark Week, Storm Chasers, I watched them all. My all-time favorites were the volcano shows. Then I learned about the Yellowstone Super Volcano. The sheer size of this volcano boggles the mind and should it decide to blow, life on earth (especially North America) would undergo some drastic changes.Ashfall begins on an ordinary Friday afternoon in late August. Alex Halprin, almost 16 years old, is being left home alone for the weekend as his parents and sister go visit relatives about 140 miles east of Alex’s home town in Iowa. Alex is a normal teenager, self-absorbed in his own things, and he is excited to spend time on his own. Rumblings, tremors, earthquakes, noise….a huge boulder hits Alex’s home and sets it on fire. Incessant ashfall blankets everything, causing buildings to buckle under its weight. Alex’s world changes drastically. After taking temporary shelter next door at his neighbors, Alex is forced to embark on a journey to find his parents.This is a compelling read. Alex’s town is about 900 miles east of the volcano and the devastation is catastrophic. Resources such as food, water, and communications are non-existent. Society devolves quickly. Lawlessness, violence, volcanic ash, and poor air quality make travelling dangerous. I loved Alex’s character. When we are first introduced to Alex, he is just an ordinary teen, nothing special. Alex matures remarkably fast and becomes strong, resourceful, and dependable throughout the novel. When slogging through volcanic ash on foot, Alex realizes that perhaps the going would be quicker on skis. Alex’s taekwondo skills are most useful when dealing with some of the dangerous characters he meets up with.I also loved Darla, Alex’s travelling companion. Darla was smart, imaginative, and extremely handy with mechanics. Alex and Darla were perfect for each other and I enjoyed how they learned to depend on each other. I devoured this book. I could not put it down. I’ve even revised our family’s emergency kit to include some Vitamin C tablets (never thought of that!). Maybe I’ll even register the kids in some martial arts classes.A sequel is planned for Fall 2012. Ashen Winter – I can’t wait to read it. Thank you to Netgalley for a review copy of this book. Posted on Badass Book Reviews.