Publisher: Simon and Schuster for Young Readers.
Favorite character: Tommy Imura.
All in all: Fast, fun, action packed.
Cover: Unique and powerful.
Synopsis: In post-apocalyptic America, 15-year-old Benny Imura and his friends set out into the great Rot & Ruin hoping to find a better future but are soon pitted against zombies, wild animals, insane murderers, and the horrors of Gameland. ~Goodreads.com.
Twisty, turny Dust & Decay. Oh how you entertained me and surprised me again and again. You may not think a book can keep your attention for a little over 500 pages, but this one kept mine. Just when I thought that nothing was around the next corner, Maberry would throw a grenade in the story.
Dust & Decay is fast paced and easy to read. The writing is lovely yet brutal when the circumstances call for it. The world itself is still pretty. Trees, flowers, bees...and Mayberry does not forget to show us that. But events have made humans and humanity ugly and that is shown as well. The contrast is interesting.
A great plot device is Nix's journal entries. She asks questions that the reader may ask and also gives important workings of the world in Dust & Decay, including zombies. I would bet that a lot of the scientific details in Nix's journals is accurate since I know that Maberry is very conscious about research. I also really appreciate how the events of the first book Rot & Ruin are peppered throughout the book, not recapped all in one place and only important pertinent information is given. And the humor! Let's not forget the humor throughout. It gives a refreshing break from the stressful plot.
The zombie mythology and the slang that comes out of this world is pretty cool. "If you look into a zombie's eyes you will see how you look as a zombie." Chilling isn't it? How some people feel that the zoms are the meek that are inheriting the earth. The questions and theories are laid out for the reader by the characters. The slang is also a lot of fun that the Bounty Hunters use. The world building is subtle, yet thorough and organic.
I also really like how the romance is played out between Benny and Nix. They truly love each other, but both question the reality of being "in" love. Is it only because they've known each other for so long? Or because of what they went through together? Either way they have a bond which grows stronger as events unfold.
Many of the characters go through transformations. Harsh words, contemplation and regret lead to change between many, but I feel most dramatically with Lilah. She realizes that people she has been avoiding all her life, may actually care for her. It was interesting to watch her deal with the implications of that.
Two of my other favorite characters are Dr. Skillz and J-Dog. I love their surfer slang and attitude. Surfers can be so zen and they show it with humor and class in the midst of defending themselves and their friends. Sally Two Knives is also a great character, a tough woman who always does the right thing and I loved the Greenman, with his gentle ways and contemplative words. I think he is the Yoda of the land.
Someone stated to me that they felt the dialogue is a bit preachy at times. I can understand this opinion, but it didn't bother me. Sometimes people need things spelled out for them to roll around in their mind. Benny and Nix's adventures are always going to be lessons and Tom has to try to be the teacher so that they can survive. However, for the most part, the story lets the characters learn without someone having to point out the right and wrong of it.
At first I didn't like the alternate point of views, but it was used sparingly until the end when it was needed most. I liked how I saw the different "scenes" of the book simultaneously and got to know different characters a bit better.
This is a first rate book that everyone should read. Adults, kids, reading groups, zombie lovers. I definitely see it becoming an important piece of fiction and it has very teachable moments.
***Spoiler Alert: (Highlight to read): I usually would make a much more subtle reference to this part, but I HAD to talk about it! I really never thought that Tom would die. In fact there was a time in the book when it seemed close but I even wrote a post-it note on my book notes, I was nervous but I knew Maberry would never kill my Tommy. But he did! Another twist! I was upset, shocked, and so very, very sad. However, it also felt kind of "right" somehow and I felt Maberry made a good choice. Sometimes it drives me crazy when everyone lives. (Although I'm still upset it was Tom.) To kill off someone who is a legend and seems unstoppable is a bold move. Tommy was almost too perfect to live and his death will make him martyr like, at least in my eyes. End Spoiler Alert***