Title: Dust and Decay
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Genre: YA fiction, paranormal fiction, zombie fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Benny Imura was appalled to learn that the Apocalypse came with homework.
While this review will not contain spoilers for Dust and Decay, it will contain spoilers for the first book in the series, Rot and Ruin.
In the six months since Benny Imura, along with his zombie-hunter brother Tom, and Benny’s girlfriend Nix, defeated Charlie Pinkeye in the Rot and Ruin, they have been training and preparing to leave their home forever. Determined to travel east to find the jet they saw in the sky, Tom has been training Benny and Nix to survive outside the safe walls of their home town, to understand what it means to live in the wilderness that is infested by zombies, and by human pariahs who are often worse. Lilah, the lost girl, will accompany them on their trip – her survival and battle skills will be indispensable.
In spite of all of Tom’s planning, however, things go wrong their very first day in the Rot, and they discover that Gameland has been rebuilt. And why does Benny think he saw Charlie Pinkeye, a man who is supposed to be dead?
Jonathan Maberry has done it again (I thoroughly enjoyed book one in this series, Rot and Ruin) – written a work of zombie fiction that is character-driven, intelligent, and funny, without losing any of the page-turning plot and action. I love the way he writes the different relationships in the book: Tom’s love, protection, and good-hearted exasperation at his younger brother; the young, awkward romance between Benny and Nix; the constant ribbing yet fierce loyalty between Benny and his best friend, Chong.
The point of view switches between characters, and this gives the reader real insight into some of the characters. I loved the sections from Lilah’s point of view, and the emotional journey she travels in the course of the story is especially poignant. There are some new characters that also add to the story – especially the entertainment value: bounty hunters Sally Two-Knives, J-Dog, and Dr. Skillz. And as creepy a villain as Charlie Pinkeye was in the first book, Maberry has upped the ante with Preacher Jack, a man who embodies evil.
Dust and Decay was a total page-turner, and the ending (which had me in tears, not something I usually expect with zombie fiction) left me hungry for more. Flesh and Bone, the third book in the series, comes out in September. In the meantime, for those of you who are as impatient as I am, there is bonus material available online: a short story prequel to the first book called “First Memories”, and some deleted scenes from the beginning of Dust and Decay.