But that brings me to one of my favorite review lines about ASHEN WINTER (from Voya): “Mullin has outdone himself with nonstop action and injury.” And they’re right. AW clocks in at nearly 600 pages, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. (And Alex is pretty battle-scarred by the end of the book.) The pace is quick, and Alex (and Darla) are continually acting and/or figuring out things. Alex grows up even more in this book as he has to make some tough choices, but his actions are grounded in his love for Darla and his desire to protect all of his family.
All of that makes AW an excellent book “boy book” that should also appeal to us girls. I don’t like putting labels on books—like “boy book” or “girl book”—but the truth is that boys do like certain things in stories. And it’s important to direct them to good books they might like in order to get them to read. Author Andy Sherrod talks about what makes a good “boy book” on his blog (and he gives presentations on the topic). Boys are more likely to like a book where the protagonist (boy or girl):
- Acts alone
- Heads “out there” (as opposed to staying home)
- And overcomes a physical challenge
And that’s ASHEN WINTER. Okay, Alex isn’t totally alone. He acts by himself in key parts of the book (minor spoiler), but he does have traveling companions on and off. He sets off with Darla, and he picks up two other kids along the way. All are strong characters. No damsels in distress anywhere in sight. (That makes it a good girl book, BTW.)
Before we get to the giveaway, here are a few other semi-random things I love about AW:
- Darla is the one who can fix anything.
- Ben is delightful—a high functioning autistic kid who is also a tactical savant.
- Despite the odds, Alex believes in himself and doesn’t give up—even when the adults do.
- The story is heartbreakingly believable but not without hope.
- The word flenser just gives me the creeps.
Oh, and I have a new appreciation for kale. ;)
And now for the WINNING OF STUFF. You can enter to win signed copies of both books by filling out the Rafflecopter thingie below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway