Wednesday, December 5, 2012

They Will Fight Down to Flesh and Bone

Flesh & Bone (Benny Imura (Rot and Ruin))
In a world where zombies may not be the apex predator in all cases, they certainly become the most persistent predator. But Benny Imura and his friends aren't giving up hope, even if it means traipsing across the zombie eaten landscape. In Flesh and Bone, the third book in Jonathan Maberry's Benny Imura series, you get to the real heart of humanity, or lack thereof.

Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Chong are still reeling from the death of Tom Imura, Benny's older brother who kept them all safe. And what makes it worse is that he was murdered by a breathing human being, not a zom. But none could stay in that town with the ghosts of their family haunting them, so they decided to head off to find the source of the jet they saw flying overhead when they were in the Rot and Ruin. Only what they encounter makes the zombies look like kittens.

In a real doomsday situation, humans can often become the biggest threat, and the Rot and Ruin is no exception. When the kids are split up, they all find themselves facing insurmountable odds. Lions, escaped from zoos, now hunt through the country. People they come across, even ones who they save, aren't always grateful (and some even threaten to kill them). But worst of all is the death cult hell-bent on ridding the world of its biggest parasite: living, breathing human beings. When Saint John encountered Mother Rose, a cult was born and their reapers have "spread the word" ever since. But Saint John (a former serial killer before the First Night) has very different intentions from Mother Rose. And Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Chong are all caught in the middle of a turf war they know nothing about.

You wouldn't be reading this book if you hadn't read the first book, so you know Tom Imura died. I am not going to comment on that decision, because while I see how it drove the plot forward, it still devastated me when I read it. But this book deals with grief, and healing, and hope, all wrapped up in a crazy apocalyptic world. And what that does is show this really human side of your main characters, making you love them even more, flaws and grief and all, but it also gives you that terrifying glimpse into those people you wish hadn't made it through the First Night. I always love when an apocalyptic story is realistic, and a huge part of that is acknowledging that a lot of really horrible people will not only make it through the apocalypse in tact, they will thrive. Scary thought, but totally accurate. So Saint John being a former (well, current, to be exact) serial killer is so terrifying but so true. And this installment of the series really shakes you to the core with that realization.

I think it was hard to write this story coming off the supreme grief of losing Tom, but I think Maberry has a clear plan for the series and new how to pivot from that traumatic event and recover. It was done very well and kept me enthralled with each page. This is a phenomenal series and while I am anxiously awaiting the final book, I am also dreading its release and therefore the conclusion of the story. This series doesn't disappoint, and I promise, you will be more scared of the people in it than the zoms.

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