Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dystopias and Dead Things: Dust & Decay

Apparently, my month of "dystopias and dead things" could have also been titled "a month of sequels."  99 Coffins, Crossed, and now Dust & Decay are my reviewed books for the month, and all are the second book in their respective series.

Enough about that, though, right?  You're here to read about Dust & Decay, the second book in the Benny Imura series by Jonathan Maberry.  (I've previously reviewed Rot & Ruin, the first in the series.)
Checkouts: Soon to be added to the library collection; bought at Snowbound Books
Series checkouts: 1
Typical reader: People who enjoyed Rot & Ruin

Synopsis: Six months have passed since the events of Rot & Ruin.  Benny, Nix and their friends have been training with Benny's brother Tom for months, and are anxious to go east and try to find the airplane they saw flying.  A bit earlier than intended, Tom sets out with Benny, Nix, Lilah the legendary Lost Girl, and Lou Chong on what was supposed to be an overnight camping trip for Chong and the beginning of a journey for the rest.  Things do not go as planned.  At all.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

This sequel does not spend as much time in the town of Mountainside as its predecessor.  This time, while we do get to see a bit of relaxing times for the group with apple pies and romantic concerns, the action heats up quickly, with a zombie attack in town.  After that's dealt with, Tom moves the departure date for the trip up.  Chong tags along with permission from his parents for just one night.  They'll go to Brother David's way station, spend the night, send Chong home, and continue on their merry way.

But then a rhinoceros foils their plans.  That's right.  A rhinoceros.  Yes, it makes sense in that animals have escaped from the San Diego Zoo, circuses, and other such venues.  Yes, it's something that the group really was not expecting, and it's a good way to throw everything off.  But, um, wow.  A rhinoceros.  That messed with my suspension of disbelief far more than, you know, zombies do.

That's really my only quibble with the book, though!  The pacing is excellent, the action is awesome, and the characters are incredible.  Every review I've seen of this book talks about some new bounty hunter the reader gets to meet in Dust & Decay, and for good reason.  There are a quirky, dynamic bunch of people that live out in the wild of post-zompacalypse America.  Personally, I loved the Greenman.  He reminded me a lot of Tom Bombadil from The Lord of the Rings.  You'll also come across some really nasty bad guys who have it out for Benny, his brother, and his friends.

Interspersed with the narrative are excerpts from Nix's journal.  These are really a nice addition, adding both general information and a good bit of depth to her character.  I particularly liked how honest her writing was about her feelings about Benny.  "... Benny and I are never going back home.  We may not meet other kids our age.  Do I want to be with him because we don't have a choice or because that was our choice?" (page 247, hardcover edition)  This sort of thing made Benny and Nix's relationship far more believable than nearly anything you'll read in any romance novel.  Massive kudos, Mr. Maberry.

My reviews always aim to be spoiler-free, but I will give you two little vague tidbits about the outcome of this novel.  One, the end battle is epic!  Two, I cried by the end of the book.

If you enjoyed Rot & Ruin, don't miss this.


  1. Thanks for this wonderful review. I'm delighted that you enjoyed the second (of four) adventures of Benny Imura and his crew.

    I'm surprised that you found the presence of the rhino so unusual. There are tens of thousands of wild animals in zoos, circuses and private collections. A large percentage of them would probably escape (according to the zoologists, biologists, vets, and animal experts I interviewed when researching this book). Most of them agree that rhinos, elephants, various herbivores (gazelles, etc.), hyenas, and monkeys would proliferate. The dominant predator, however, would be the wild boar. So...they'll show up on FLESH & BONE.

    There are thirteen pages of free prequel scenes for ROT & RUIN available on the Simon & Schuster webpage for the book.

    And there are twenty-five pages of free scenes set 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:

    Benny Imura and his friends will return in FLESH & BONE (2012) and FIRE & ASH (2013)

  2. Thanks for stopping by, and commenting! I look forward to reading the continuation of this story.

    You're absolutely right about the animals. It just took me by surprise so much.

  3. Aww, and here I was hoping that "Sending in the rhinoceros" might be the new "Jumping the shark." :p In all seriousness though, I'm glad that the series is still going strong. It sounds like this will be a good addition to the library.

  4. I really love this series and have enjoyed both "Rot and Ruin" and "Dust and Decay". I'm not sure what it says about me that the rhino totally didn't bother me.

    Something did bother me, though, and that was the lack of usage of the wakazashi and Tom's stated reasons for it. As a female practitioner of kendo, it bothered me the implication that wakazashi were used primarily as a suicidal weapon. Most women from samurai families were permitted to practice and carry wakazashi as weapons and I know more than a few very good offensive moves with them, personally. They're also fairly handy for the removal of an opponent's head, though it's a short, chopping movement rather than the full-body swing of a katana stroke. If Tom mentioned that the shorter length brings you too close to a zombie for safety and the close range is too dangerous for practical use, I could accept that. But don't call it a coward's weapon. It wasn't. And isn't.

    1. Thanks for sharing that tidbit, Linn. I didn't know that.

    2. I love using the wakazashi. I'm better suited for it than a katana, personally, so I get a little twitchy about it. :D