Review: Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry

Dust & Decay
by Jonathan Maberry

ISBN-13: 9-871442-402355
Publication: August 2011 from Simon & Schuster
Series: book 2 in Benny Imura
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!

Benny Imura and Nix Riley can’t forget the jet they saw fly over the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot and Ruin.

The jet meant leaving, something that Nix and Benny were going to do. Now – after months of rigorous training with Tom, Benny’s zombie-hunter brother – Benny, Nix, Lilah the Lost Girl, and Chong are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future.

But from the start, everything goes wrong. They are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, and insane murderers, and are faced with the horrors of a rebuilt 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?

Spoilers for Rot & Ruin!

I love zombie books, I loved the first Benny Imura book, and I loved Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry. In this second book, Benny, Tom, Nix and Lilah are headed out in search of the jet they saw during their first venture into the great Rot & Ruin. Of course, everything that could possibly goes wrong does, but what else do you expect in a zombie apocalypse?

I continue to like Benny’s character. He’s so torn about actually leaving his home and safety, and following Tom, Nix, and Lilah in search of the jet. He defines the definition of brave for me in that he’s facing something he’s afraid of and not taking the easy way out. He’s following his family, and gaining a new maturity through every trial that they face. That being said, he can make some pretty bad choices, but he always cleans up his messes and soldiers through with a ton of heart. Tom, his older brother, is swoonworthy. A gentleman, fighter, protector, kind and brave and strong. He looks after Benny and his friends so well. And Nix needs it, too. She’s kind of losing it a little after everything she’s been through. The action scenes are intense and suspenseful and oh man, the hoard. Zombies are coming, and Benny and his friends really need to avoid them. I swear, their close calls are going to give me heart attacks.

I know I’m invested when I actively dislike a character, or in this series’ case, characters. Charlie Pink-Eye’s family had me cringing and despairing for our main characters, and I’m worried we haven’t seen the last of them yet. And the zombies! Nothing is ever easy, and of course things need to be changing. New behaviours are appearing and it has me a little worried for where things will go for Benny and the group in book three. How will they handle the unknown? The zombies and the way Jonathan Maberry doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff is what makes me love this series. One thing I have noticed is the sympathy that is often written for the zoms that comes through from Benny’s perspective, and it’s nice to see it reiterated that these zombies were once living, breathing, feeling people, and that not much is known about them now. Do they still feel emotions or physical sensation? What is like for the zombie? And oh, the ending. To have it so right there that there are few fully happy endings in a world after a zombie apocalypse. Dust & Decay has some heart-wrenching events, and despite how much I disliked them and wished they could be undone, I respect that they happened.

I cannot wait to see how Benny’s journey through the Rot and Ruin goes, and how Nix, Lilah, Chong and Benny grow as characters and how they’ll handle getting further and further from home and venturing into the unknown.

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