Saturday, 6 August 2011

Book Review: Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberrry

Book: Dust & Decay (Benny Imura #2) by Jonathan Maberry, Simon & Schuster, Aug. 30, 2011.

Source:  Egalley from Simon & Schuster Galley Grab.

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
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 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.

Sounds easy. Sounds wonderful. Except that everything that can go wrong does. Before they can even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town. But as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers and 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. Everything…and not everyone in Benny's small band of travelers will make it out alive.

My Thoughts:
Wow, what a book!  I could barely put this down, it is so intense and action packed.  This is the second installment of the Benny Imura series, the first being Rot & Ruin.  These are young adult thriller zombie books with a decidedly human twist. 

Dust & Decay sees Benny Imura, his brother Tom, and their friends Nix, Chong and Lilah sevens month after destroying Gameland.  They have trained and are leaving the safety of town to go after the airplane they saw fly past, and to go after a different life.

This book really drew me in, right from the first lines, and each chapter had me wanting to read the next one.  Maberry's writing is often fast and abrupt, which adds to the pace of the book.  I loved how the humour, tension, action and horror mixed with the human story and how invested we become in the characters. There were also some great twists and turns.  I don't want to give anything away, but I even shed a few tears at the end, I was so wrapped up in the story.  The addition of a page from Nix's journal here and there was a good one as it answered a lot of the questions about the back story and asked a lot of the same questions I had about the zombies and the Rot & Ruin.

I enjoyed how the characters developed in this story, particularly Benny and Chong.   Benny has really matured.  I loved his ambivalence about going out into the Rot & Ruin as this seemed authentic and human.  It would be difficult for most people to leave the world they know and its safety for the danger and uncertainty of a new life, especially a dangerous one.  However, he has made his decision, and once he is out in the Rot & Ruin, his training and level headedness shows.

Chong was also great and showed real growth.  He seems authentic in his desire to go out into the Rot & Ruin, to have the adventure, but only for one day.  He doesn't take the situation completely seriously, just a I could see many teens doing.  The consequences of his actions put him in a position to show what he is really made of and examine himself, which he does.  It is sad to see him lose his last shred of innocence, especially because I felt for him.

There are also great female characters in this book in Nix and Lilah.  They are strong and can fend for themselves, something missing in many books where the girls have to be saved all of the time or are only accidentally strong.  Nix is smart and hurting from the events of the first book, but she can certainly hold her own.  Lilah is all brawn and "street smart" but learns more about her human side as the book goes on.

What I especially love about this series is how Maberry explores what it means to be human.  Dust & Decay explores various themes along these lines:  what it is to really live - is it OK to bury your head in the sand and exist and be safe, or is it better to take risks and be free and live?; the nature of evil - how intention and free will is needed to be evil; and how people act without laws - will evil and fear dominate with lawlessness, do we need a moral compass to tell us how to behave?

Something I haven't mentioned yet are the zombies.  Yes, this is definitely a zombie book and there are lots of zombies and graphically violent scenes.  There is also an underlying level of violence to the whole book, between the zombies and the bounty hunters.  I am not normally one for violent books, but the scenes do fit the story and do not seem out of place or gratuitous.

I loved this book and would easily recommend it to those who like zombie or action and adventure books or are OK with violent scenes.  There are great male and female characters in this book, which should appeal to both boys and girls.  I can see the length being initially off putting for some kids, but if they can get into it, the fast pace should carry them along.  My own son who is 12 loved Rot & Ruin and  has made me promise to buy him a print copy of Dust & Decay when it comes out at the end of August.  Personally, I can't wait to see what is next for Benny and his friends in the next book.

If anyone has any suggestions of other books along these lines, or are just great books, I would love to hear your suggestions.  I am always on the lookout for new books to read.  Thanks!



    Just stopping by for a look around.


  2. Certainly a great review for this book. I enjoyed reading about your take on it and will remember to put this on my book wish list. Stumbled.
    Come join the conversations every Thursday and Post your questions on Thursday Two Questions Meme

  3. i've never tried to read that kind of book (not really a fan of violence and zombies) but i do enjoy the way edgar allan poe was describing violent scenes and would love to read sth similar ... have you ever read anything by him?

    btw, are you sure that you "liked" my post, not just stumbled it, cause i have more comments than likes. sorry for nagging but maybe you should know it for the future. and if i'm just confused and have misunderstod sth, sorry again. :)

  4. I don't think this is my type of book, but good review. Thanks for the stumble - I've stumbled back this post.

  5. Great review! Not really my kind of book though. I tend to prefer the vampire books. Do you thing it could catch my attention?

    I've stumbled this post. Mine is at

  6. Thanks for all the comments and stumbles. Siverfaerie, not sure if this is for you or not. These book are not romance oriented as many vampire books are. However, they are well written and exciting, I couldn't stop turning the pages. You could always try Rot & Ruin and see.

  7. Sounds interesting :-)

    I stumbled your post. If you want to stumble back, you can find mine at

    Jamie @

  8. Hey, guys...there are twenty-five pages of free scenes set in the months 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:

  9. Thanks so much, I'll definitely look up those extra stories!!

  10. I love these books. I cried at the end of Dust & Decay though. Losing my favorite character was rough. :( Great review!

  11. Thanks, I know what you mean, I cried a bit too, he was a great character.


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