I really loved Ashfall and how realistic a scenario Mullin created. All the characters started out as normal people just living their lives and just one-by-one they all had to adapt and change to fit their new living conditions. It definitely struck the emotional heartstrings and the moral dilemma of helping others or leaving them to their fates.
I will admit that I am in the camp of liking Darla more than the main character, Alex. I really loved her attitude and how she called Alex out when he did a bone-headed move or allowed his softhearted sympathy to get them in trouble. I also loved how strong she was depicted physically and even mentally. However, when tragic struck her personally, she didn't try to hide it even though she was the super strong tough girl.
Alex was the same in that he didn't truly hide his emotions either, which is great to see in a male main character, especially as a teenage boy. I know that my brother often talks about how real men don't cry and other nonsense. However, some of the badassery that Alex pulled in the book totally proves his manliness despite him allowing himself to grieve and express emotions more than just anger and frustration (even though there was plenty of that too–and for good reason!)
Overall, the changes that the society, environment, and characters go through this book is very thought-provoking and makes for a good read. I'm looking forward to getting the second book in the series and continuing Alex and Darla's story.