Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry

Rot and Ruin was so much more enjoyable than I thought it would be, and it left such a tantalizing hook at the end, I naturally picked up its sequel, Dust and Decay, soon after I finished reading it. Since it’s nearly impossible to review Dust and Decay without talking about Rot and Ruin, I’m giving you the obligatory warning: There are spoilers for Rot and Ruin ahead.

At the end of Rot and Ruin, Benny and Tom and the rest of the crew have defeated Charlie Pink-Eye, rescued Nix, and made it back home safely. But they spotted something incredible while out in the Rot and Ruin: a flying jet headed somewhere unknown. In the six months since they saw it, Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Chong have been training hard with Tom, learning how to fight zoms and survive in the Rot and Ruin. Once Tom deems them ready, they intend to find the jet, and hopefully the society that comes with it.

I was excited for this sequel because I’m always interested in seeing how a society handles a cataclysm – and how different societies clash during the aftermath. The question haunting Benny’s mind (and the minds of his friends) is “Is there anyone else out there?” Naturally, I have this question too.

Unfortunately, while Benny and his crew set out to find the jet, the story is not about that journey. Instead, at almost the very moment they step into the Rot and Ruin, Chong is kidnapped by a group of bad guys who plan to take him to Gameland. What’s more, they think they spot Charlie Pink-Eye in the midst of a group of zombies. Is Charlie Pink-Eye really dead? Is he a zom? Will they have to kill him all over again?

I’m sad to say that I was pretty let down by Dust and Decay because its plot is so similar to Rot and Ruin: rescue a friend from Gameland, defeat Charlie Pink-Eye, make it back home safely. The two books even end the same, with the survivors vowing to finally find that jet.

Maberry’s writing is as good as ever, with plenty of wisecracking and a nice bit of character development with Nix, who was mostly overshadowed in the first book. But Dust and Decay is too much of a re-hash of the first book to be satisfying. I felt a little betrayed by it, since I was so looking forward to seeing where the hunt for the jet would take Benny – and as it turns out, it takes him nowhere.

This is not to say that Dust and Decay isn’t worth reading. If you enjoyed the first, give it a shot: it’s fast reading despite its length, and the facets of Nix, Lilah, and Chong that Maberry reveals here are solid and interesting. I feel like I know all three of them so much better, and they moved from being ancillary characters that simply back up Benny to being characters I really care about. It’s too bad about the carbon copy plot.

Review copy received from the publisher. Dust and Decay is available now.

5 comments:

  1. Hmmmm... I was hoping that Dust and Decay would be more about them finding that jet or where it came from and figuring out how to deal with "others". I'll probably borrow this from the library then. Thanks for the review!

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  2. I've heard really good things about this but I've never really caught on to the series since it just sort of freaks me out a little bit. Sorry this one went down the drain. Bit. :0(

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  3. @Pam: I'm not a big zombie reader but I quite liked this one. It's much less about the zoms than it is about the idea of survival and testing the limits of human power and intellect. You should give it a shot.

    @Kim: I'll hold off on reading this one on the heels of finishing R&R. But good to know the writing holds up well. I suspect my teens will likely eat this one up as much as the last, even if they are similar. But damn. I wanted to know about the jet!

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  4. That's disappointing! It reminds me of when I was reading the Luxe series. The first book ended with the intimation that one of the girl characters was going to pass as a boy and join the war effort to follow the boy she loved. In the next book, this was completely abandoned, as she was caught immediately. Instead of gender transgression and war, we watched her spend a lot of time getting drunk in Mexico.

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  5. To be fair, I never said that the second book would be about finding the jet. The third and fourth books are, however.

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