Friday, January 13, 2012

DUAL REVIEW: Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry

Lucinda's Rating: 4/5 Stars
Tracy's Rating: 4/5 Stars
Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Zombie/Dystopia
Series: Benny Inmura #2; sequel to Rot & Ruin

Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also been six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them. But before they even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town, and as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, and insane murderers, and face the horrors of Gameland—where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive?

In the great Rot & Ruin, everything wants to kill you—and not everyone in Benny’s small band of travelers will survive….

Lucinda's Views:
This novel tells the tale of the further adventures of Benny Imura and his friends in their zombie-infested world. As they set out on their quest to locate the mysterious jumbo jet seen in Rot & Ruin,  the reader will see many changes in Benny, from his blossoming romance to his new found respect for his brother, Tom.  Within we also see ethical dilemmas that pose such questions as, "Does the good of the few outweigh the good of the many?" Also posed is the question of what really constitutes a "good" person?  Is someone who professes to be a preacher automatically a good person?  Should their word be more valuable than that of a layperson? This tale offers many twists and turns and an ending that may be very surprising to some. An ending that leaves one character dead and another completely altered for life. If you liked Rot & Ruin you will love Dust & Decay.

Tracy's Thoughts:
I am so glad I decided to stick with this series. At the same time, I am seriously mad at Jonathan Maberry for putting his characters through such hell and even (gasp!) killing off a couple of the good guys. In Rot & Ruin, I never quite managed to connect with the heroes. But they really grabbed me in Dust & Decay—and then Maberry pretty much tortures them. I couldn't put the book down. What that says about me, I'd rather not contemplate.

Anyway, I was very pleased with the character development in Dust & Decay. Benny has evolved into a slightly tougher, more balanced (and likeable!) character, though he is still flawed and recognizable as the same guy from Rot & Ruin. He has matured as a result of his experiences, and I could really feel the struggle between the kid his is and the adult he is becoming. And Tom, well he's still awesome...only now we get to see his skills in action. We also discover more about Lilah's past; even Benny's friend Chong gets new layers (actually, his is one of the most relatable character arcs). I did get rather sick of Nix—IMHO, she seems more than a little crazy at times—but she was an interesting character and I cared what happened to her even though it was difficult to like her at times. Even better, Maberry brings the Zombie Cards to life. We meet fascinating new characters straight from the Cards—Preacher Jack, Sally Two-Knives, and J-Dog and Dr. Skillz (who bring a welcome dose of humor to the mix).

I also found the storytelling more vivid and less clunky than in Rot & Ruin. In book one, the POV was mostly 3rd person from the perspective of Benny. There were a few brief shifts to other characters' perspectives, but I found this quite jarring. In the sequel, these transitions are more frequent and feel more natural, allowing for a fuller, richer story. This also advances the pacing, which is fast and absorbing. The action scenes (of which there are many) have an immediacy I felt was lacking in R & R, and the villains have more flavor. Horror aficionados will love the increased gore-factor, and Hunger Games fans will be intrigued by the Gameland scenes. But this novel isn't all blood, guts, and fight scenes; there is also love, heartbreak, hope, and real ethical questions to consider. For me, Dust & Decay has the feel of a good Western (with zombies!). The story touches on themes of loyalty, obligation, and courage in a world where lawlessness is rampant and the good guys are struggling with their own inner demons. There are lots of twists and turns, and a new development in the mystery of zombie reanimation raises questions that have me hungry for the sequel. 


Jonathan Maberry said...

Thanks for those well-considered reviews!

Benny Imura and his friends will return in FLESH & BONE (September 11, 2012) and FIRE & ASH (2013)

In the meantime, there are thirteen pages of free prequel scenes for ROT & RUIN available on the Simon & Schuster webpage for the book.

And there are twenty-five pages of free scenes set between ROT & RUIN and DUST & DECAY. Here’s a link to the main page; access the scenes by clicking on the banner that reads: READ BONUS MATERIAL BY JONATHAN MABERRY:

Additional free bonus scenes will be posed in 2012 prior to the release of FLESH & BONE.

Tracy said...

Wow! Thanks so much for popping in and sharing those links! I am especially interested in the Rot & Ruin prequel scenes...

Bethany said...

I've heard great things about this book from other book-lovers! Thanks for reviewing

Tracy said...

I hope you give it a try, Bethany. If so, you'll have to let us know what you think. Dust and Decay is actually the second book in the series (after Rot & Ruin); book 3, Flesh & Bone, was just published.

Bethany said...

I finally got around to reading the series. WOW! I am impressed. It's a different take on a survivor story in a zombie apocalypse. I found the parallels between the use of the katana to Michonne's sword on the Walking Dead interesting. Easily my favorite zombie novels since World War Z, which I loved!

Tracy said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Bethany! I haven't yet read Flesh and Bone. How did you think it compares to the first two in the series? After the shocker at the end of Dust and Decay, I've been sort of afraid what other terrible things Jonathan Maberry has in store for the characters!

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