I have to admit that Rot & Ruin was one of my favorite books last year. It tore at my heart. It was a coming of age novel. In it we meet Benny who learns some hard truths about his world. He learns that what he thought he knew was not in fact that truth. His heroes were actually the villains and his brother who he thought was weak was actually the strongest man around. He also learned that zombies are not the evil in this world–man is. Zombies just have a disease and really can’t control what they do. Man chooses to do the evil he does and therefore should be more feared.
Dust & Decay picks up a few months after the events of Rot & Ruin and we find our band of heroes stronger and ready to set out into the Rot & Ruin to find the jet they saw at the end of the first book. All the characters have grown up in this book: Benny is a lot more mature and accepting of who he is in this world although he does still act like a 15 year old boy palling around with his friends Chong and Morgie at times. Lilah is still the mysteries Lost Girl. Tom is strong and silent, but trying to train the kids and get them ready for the journey ahead but he is ready to leave the protection of the town once and for all. And Nix is ready to leave the town that saw her mother murdered and she struggles with her feelings for Benny.
Their journey is nothing if not disaster upon disaster from the beginning. Maberry can write a wonderful action sequence. And we meet some wonderful and creepy characters along the way. Pretty much everyone from the Zombie Cards shows up for the final battle and it is a doozy. Gameland is back as are more of the Matheis family. If there is one thing I have an issue with in this book it is the repeat of the Gameland/Matheis storyline. It does seem like we did that in Rot & Ruin. I know it is a little different in this book, but it kind of seems like a copout to repeat it hear. I get why it was; the law had to come down and there had to be a show of force, but it still seemed like a repeated plot line from a really gifted author who could have been very original.
And Maberry is very original. He takes something like zombies and really makes it a question of good vs evil. Zombies are only a small part of the equation and really they are just a constant on the equation. Men are really the variables of good and evil on that equation. And Maberry skillfully weaves a tale that makes us think about good and evil, heaven and hell, purgatory and limbo, religion and religious zealots, how to learn when to do what is right.
I can’t wait to see what the rest of this series brings. We have two more books to look forward to I figure Rot & Ruin was the freshman sprint out of the box, Dust & Decay was a bit of a sophomore slump but the next two should pick up as they head towards senior graduation.