Mini-reviews: Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry; The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch; and The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier

Title: Flesh and Bone
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Genre: YA zombie fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: Benny Imura thought, I’m going to die.

Goodreads blurb: Reeling from the tragic events of Dust & Decay, Benny Imura and his friends plunge deep into the zombie-infested wastelands of the great Rot & Ruin. Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong journey through a fierce wilderness that was once America, searching for the jet they saw in the skies months ago. If that jet exists then humanity itself must have survived…somewhere. Finding it is their best hope for having a future and a life worth living.

But the Ruin is far more dangerous than any of them can imagine. They are hunted by fierce animals escaped from zoos and circuses. They must raid zombie-infested towns for food and medical supplies. They discover the very real truth in the old saying: In the Rot & Ruin…everything wants to kill you.

And what is happening to the zombies? Swarms of them are coming from the east, devouring everything in their paths. These zoms are different. Faster, smarter, infinitely more dangerous. Has the zombie plague mutated, or is there something far more sinister behind this new invasion of the living dead?

In Flesh & Bone, Benny Imura, Nix Riley, Lou Chong and Lilah the Lost Girl are pitted against dangers greater than anything they’ve ever faced. To survive, each of them must rise to become the warriors Tom trained them to be.

Book three of Jonathan Maberry’s Benny Imura series was just as engrossing, entertaining, and thought-provoking as the first two were. Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Chong are all dealing with personal griefs, and while they are fighting for survival, they are also fighting to find a reason for hope. This third book introduces a terrifying cult called The Reapers, led by the truly frightening sociopath Saint John. They also have to deal with the fact that everything they’ve known to be true about the zombies isn’t necessarily true anymore. And then, at the end, Maberry throws in a complete game-changer. I can’t wait for the last book, Fire and Ash, due out next year.

Title: The Eleventh Plague
Author: Jeff Hirsch
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from Sync YA
Audiobook reader: Dan Bittner
Audiobook length: 7 hours and 3 minutes
First line: I was sitting at the edge of the clearing, trying not to stare at the body on the ground in front of me.

Goodreads blurb: In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing–and their lives–forever.

This YA dystopian novel was a fantastic audiobook choice, and I’m so glad I downloaded it when YA Sync offered it for free. Stephen’s life consists of traveling north to south every year with his father and grandfather, scavenging for whatever they can find in a world left ravaged by a plague virus. But when his grandfather dies and his father suffers an accident that leaves him in a coma, Stephen is forced to rely on the people of Settler’s Landing. He’s never been a part of a community before, and his grandfather had taught him not to trust anyone, and that there is no reason to lay down roots. Stephen has to face his past, and question his beliefs, all while trying to figure out where he fits in. His relationship with Jenny is complicated, and their random act of mischief has deadly ramifications. This book has a world and characters that I would love to revisit, but the best thing of all is that The Eleventh Plague stands just fine on its own.

Title: The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.
Author: Nichole Bernier
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: AudioGo
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Angela Brazil
Audiobook length: 11 hours and 16 minutes
First line: The George Washington Bridge had never been anything but strong and beautiful, its arches monumental, cables thin and high.

Goodreads blurb: Summer vacation on Great Rock Island was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who’d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a sudden accident. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth’s journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew.

The complicated portrait of Elizabeth — her troubled upbringing, and her route to marriage and motherhood—makes Kate question not just their friendship, but her own deepest beliefs about loyalty and honesty at a period of uncertainty in her own marriage.

The more Kate reads, the more she learns the complicated truth of who Elizabeth really was, and rethinks her own choices as a wife, mother, and professional, and the legacy she herself would want to leave behind. When an unfamiliar man’s name appears in the pages, Kate realizes the extent of what she didn’t know about her friend, including where she was really going on the day she died.

Set in the anxious summer after the September 11th attacks, this story of two women—their friendship, their marriages, private ambitions and fears—considers the aspects of ourselves we show and those we conceal, and the repercussions of our choices.

How well do we really know the people in our lives? That is the central question in this book, deftly narrated by Angela Brazil. Kate thinks that she knows Elizabeth, her best friend, better than just about anyone, but when Elizabeth dies in a tragic accident and leaves her journals to Kate, Kate discovers that she didn’t know her at all. I loved the way the author deals with friendship, marriage, and motherhood with complete honesty. She looks at the struggle between work and staying at home as a mom, and she shows the ups and downs of both sides with authenticity, while validating each person’s right to choose. She also deals with a mother’s fears in the year after 9/11, the way she feels that there is nowhere for her family to be safe. For anyone who enjoys contemporary women’s fiction, this is a must-read.

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9 Responses to Mini-reviews: Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry; The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch; and The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier

  1. Patti Smith
    Twitter: PattiRSmith

    The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D is on my WishList already…need to get to it soon!

  2. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    I still haven’t gotten to 11th Plague but I thought Elizabeth D was very well done. Glad you enjoyed it too.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Candace – Eleventh Plague is a really quick listen – but very well done.

  3. bermudaonion(Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    The first two books don’t really appeal to me but the last one sounds very thought provoking and right up my alley.

  4. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks

    I’ve been curious about The Eleventh Plague after reading his newer novel Magisterium. The other two are new to me. I am not really into Zombies, but I may check out Mayberry’s series.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Melissa – I wasn’t into zombies, either, until I read this series – and now I’m hooked on the genre!

  5. Pingback: The Sunday Salon – November 4, 2012 (We’re moved! Plus, wrapping up October’s reading) | BOOKS AND MOVIES