Jonathan Maberry is a conundrum. He has an amazing imagination, and beautiful writing style, but he has a tendancy to draw his ideas out too long. Stretch them too thin. He seems like he is a very tenacious person.
After reading Rot & Ruin, I was beyond excited to dive into the rest of the series. I immediately purchased the next two novels.
How I wish I hadn’t.
By the time I was halfway through Dust and Decay, I no longer held any interest in the collection. Where the first novel was thrilling and galvanizing, the second lacked any excitement. The only word I could attach to this novel is droning.
Dust and Decay follows Benny and his friends on their trip to find the mysterious jumbo jet they witnessed doing a fly-by in the previous novel. They train with Tom for months, and (after a harrowing incident in their town) are finally ready to set out.
As soon as they leave the town, they run into trouble in the form of roaving gangs run by White Bear, none other than(view spoiler). They get separated, and end up at Gameland, the notorious zombie-pit arcade that was heavily mentioned in the first novel. A war ensues, and we see the fate of Gameland, as well as Benny, Nix, Tom, Chong, and Lilah.
Issue #1: This book was so incredibly slow. It takes until we are 20% into it for them to leave the town. The last seven months of their training was summed up in a couple of chapters with a few choice flashbacks later on. It feels like we are reading a newspaper article on what Obama had for breakfast yesterday. It was hard to push through because the characters are so bland. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Issue #2:As soon as they leave, they run into a (view spoiler). Okay, that is a bit of a stretch, even in California.
I have studied animals for almost my entire life, and I want to point out that zoo’s are perfectly conditioned to habitat each specific animal. Even if 4 zoos in a specific area had suddenly released all of their animals into the wild at the beginning of the apocalypse, most (if not all) of said animals would perish within years. Animals are adaptable, yes, but that is over generations. I wouldn’t expect a specific (view spoiler) to survive very long in the California wasteland, much less be able to find a compatible male to mate with. This is just not reasonable.
Issue #3: Once they are in the Rot and Ruin, Chong (who has always been a very smart person) becomes a complete moron. He runs off in the wrong direction and it messes everything up somehow. The other characters spend the rest of the novel blaming him for everything that happened with the (view spoiler). As if he could have predicted where zombies were lying, and where the animal planned to go. This seemed unfair to me, like Maberry was looking for a way to make Chong seem worthless in Lilah’s eyes.
Issue #4: Tom, the Mary-Sue. As always, Tom saves the day. Tom, who is perfect in every way, can take down 3 giant bounty hunters in the blink of an eye, who never seems to get a scratch on him.(view spoiler)
Issue #5 (and then I’ll shut up): All of the characters are completely different people than they were in the first book. Yeah, I know they went through so much with Charlie Pink-Eye, blah, blah, blah, but there isn’t even a shred of the people we came to know and love in Rot and Ruin.
Benny used to be fun loving, funny, and playful, yet serious at times. Now he has no wit, he’s not interesting, he is just a boy who waves a wooden sword around.
Nix is a hollow shell of a person. There is nothing in the novel to even hint that she ever had feelings for Benny, in the beginning of the novel, I wasn’t even sure they were still together. She’s cold-hearted, and not likeable at all to the reader. Where I was rooting for her in the last novel, I just kind of wished she would get eaten by zombies in this one.
Chong was supposed to be so super smart (I mean, come on, he’s asian, of course he’s smart -.- stereotype much?) and now he’s a blundering idiot. He runs away for no reason other than the girl who he has a super-mega crush on scorned him. Fooey.
Lilah was so mysterious and dark and weird. I loved her character, having been cut off from other human life for so long, she was so interesting. Now, all of a sudden, she is completely conditioned to living with people. It is mentioned how she never had anyone to care about before, but there is nothing more than that. She talks, she has comprehendible sentences, and feelings. It’s so not right.
Tom is the only one of the original cast who I actually still like. He’s the only one with personality and, even though he’s a huge Mary-Sue, he’s the only one remotely interesting.
Now, I’m not saying this was a bad book, it just wasn’t on par with any of Maberry’s previous work that I’ve read. If you want to find out more about the jet, don’t bother. There’s nothing about it in this novel.
I recommend this book for: People who can’t resist continuing the series.
My advice: Buyer beware: this novel kind of ruined the series for me.
Favorite character: Tom
Least favorite character: Benny and Nix