Author: Jonathan Maberry
Genre: Post-apocalyptic YA with zombies
Published: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: Oversize paperback, 469
Opening Lines: "Benny Imura thought, I'm going to die."
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"Benny Imura and his friends are reeling from the tragic events of Wawona and the second Gameland, but there's no time to stop and mourn fallen comrades. Survival in the great Rot and Ruin requires movement, and so, with heavy hearts, Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Chong continue their quest to find the jet that 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.Thoughts: After Dust & Decay ended, I had no idea how Maberry was going to continue the series. Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Chong are left in the Ruin without a guide or a clue as to their next step. Aside from Lilah having ample experience in the Ruin and amazing survival skills, the teenagers are basically town kids who have stumbled into some horrid situations. Without the guidance of Tom, I really wondered how they would function and whether they should return to Mountainside.
"But the Ruin is far more dangerous than any of them can imagine. The zoms seem to be mutating in terrifying ways that could change everything they know about surviving among the walking dead. And even worse, a death cult has arisen that is gathering new followers at a frightening rate, and is devoted to sending every living person in the Rot and Ruin into the waiting arms of death."
~ Jacket copy
Feeling as if they have nothing to return to and wanting to honor Tom's memory, the teenagers continue on their cross-country trek to find the jet Nix and Benny saw in the first book. However, things are not easy. Things continue to be strained between Nix and Benny. Everyday Nix seems to be changing into someone Benny doesn't know, and she closes herself off more and more from the people around her. Reeling after Tom's death, Benny has also retreated into himself, started to become stoic, and views that he needs to take Tom's place. And, on top of that, Benny seriously doubts their decision to leave Mountainside. With Nix's growing obsession with the plane and seeming lack of concern for her comrades, Benny is unsure how to handle everything.
Things in the Ruin are starting to change. The teenagers have noticed changes in the zombies. Some of them are getting faster, and animals are getting infected. And if the evolution of the zombie plague is not enough, they are surrounded in the Nevada desert by a strange religious death-cult calling themselves the Reapers, who intend the open "red mouths" in all the heretics and lead them into the darkness.
Maberry put a lot of thought into the Reapers. While their religion seems extremist, living in a post-apocalyptic world where disease, famine, and death run rampant, it is easy to see where a death-cult could take hold. However, I did not find it to be coincidence that the head of the church was Saint John and his loyal follower was Brother Peter.
"You have been the rock on which I built the Night Church . . . You, Peter. Not her." (327)Even though they worship the god Thanatos, the resemblance to Christianity is striking! Chapter 74 mirrors the discussion Jesus had with Peter before His crucifixion.
From the first page until the end, this book was emotional and raw. For me, the introduction was the perfect way to describe this book. It was about loss and grief. At one point or another, all of the main characters come face-to-face with loss and try to pull themselves through their own grieving process. Once again, Maberry tackles deep issues in this book and really forces the audience to look at human nature. He also shows the depravity and complete helplessness of suffering, loss, and grief. In his books, zombies are not the enemies, merely an aftershock of an already corrupt world.
This book is a tour de force! I found myself on the edge of my seat during all of the action and crying bitter tears with the teenagers as they continue to learn the harsh realities of life. If young adult novels allow teens to be voyeurs and experience things they might never have to, I think this series will go a long way in opening discussions, cause them to ask tough questions, and really start looking at the world around them. As Tom says, "You can fix the world. You, Nix . . . Your generation. You can fix the world and make it right."
**Note: This book was received from the publisher for a fair and honest review.
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