Book review: Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry

book review, guest blog, reading, writing parent August 15, 2012

I love to see my kids read. Creating a reader requires material that excites them, that keeps them interested. In today’s world of fast-paced video games and thirty-minute cartoons, this isn’t easy. Jonathan Maberry’s Rot and Ruin series fits the bill and then some. It engages young male readers with a dystopian story of survival in a zombie wasteland, and fills a void left by many of the YA dystopian books on the shelves.

Last week I offered reviews of Jonathan Maberry’s Rot and Ruin from both myself and the target audience. Today I have similar reviews of the second installment in the Benny Imura series, Dust and Decay.

I loved the second book as much as the first. We return to our favorite characters, Benny, Nix, Tom, Chong, and Lilah as they prepare to leave Mountainside for good in search of an elusive vision they hope will lead them to more humans and some semblance of civilization. New characters join our merry band along the way, including a pair of 30-something surfer dudes who made me chuckle. I’m not sure the target demographic will appreciate J-Dog and Dr. Skillz the same way I do, but that’s okay. I always appreciate the kids’ movies that include humor for the adults, so this just added a little something for me. Sally Two-Knives became a solid favorite for me– a strong female character with a wry and wicked sense of humor.

The journey, which begins as a short test of their ability to survive in the great Rot and Ruin, quickly turns into the fight of their lives. A nightmare returns, a wicked place surfaces, and Benny and the crew must banish their demons once and for all. A price is paid, and we’re left wondering where our friends will go and how they will get there.

This book offered many of the same discussion opportunities with my son as the first. We talked about trust, since Benny and the crew find themselves in several situations in which they have to choose whether or not to trust someone they don’t know. We touched on personal responsibility even in the face of humiliation when one of our characters makes a choice that endangers the entire group. These are excellent discussion points for kids, and the subject matter helps to get boys talking.

Here’s our guest review for the day:

I am Jacob Hopeman and I’m back to write this review of Dust and Decay from a young readers standpoint.

Benny Imura, Nix Riley, Tom Imura, Lilah, and Chong want to leave the town and search for a jet that they had seen earlier. Also Gameland is back and working so they have to destroy it once and for all. Plus Charlie Pink Eye has come back to haunt them in a zombified form.

The book is different from Rot and Ruin because they don’t just go out and back in town. They want to leave town so they are always in danger and they are not just learning to fight, they have to use the skills Tom taught them.

Benny Imura is my favorite character again because in this book he takes a part time leadership role in my perspective. He also has to do most of the thinking because he isn’t the best fighter in the group anymore. He also leads them through a bunch of twists and turns. All of this I like a about a certain character.

I like the book because it has a definite amount of suspense like when the thousands of zombies come pouring down the hill right to where Benny is. Also because, like Rot and Ruin, Dust and Decay has happy and sad parts. Examples are: Sad: Lilah has been living alone on her wits for so many years and its kind of sad that she had to be alone. Or, Happy: they live through the giant zombie attack.

I would most certainly recommend it my friends because the book itself is a very good read.

PS: Thanks again, Mr. Maberry!

In the coming weeks we’ll feature two guest bloggers discussing both the recent popularity of dystopia fiction and the importance of creating young readers. We’re most excited to offer a prerelease review of the upcoming installment to the Rot and Ruin series, Flesh and Bone, due out on September 11, 2012.


Tattooed writer with an attitude seeks like minded people who appreciate snark and ink. Or snarky ink.

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