I’m a reader, a writer, and a mom. I love sharing my enthusiasm for reading and writing with my kids. Thankfully, both of my kids are readers and budding writers. Right now they love to write comic books and I can’t tell you how many notebooks we’ve gone through writing and illustrating the Pencil Wars or the Ninja Granny. When summer break started in June, I knew I would need to keep the momentum going for the entire summer.
One of the projects I decided to take on with my older son was reading a YA series with him and discussing it along with asking him to write about it. After a lot of searching and finding mostly female-centric books on the store shelves, we chose Jonathan Maberry’s Rot and Ruin series. We were both excited to start the series, for different reasons. I met Mr. Maberry when he spoke to my graduate program at Seton Hill University and we actually read Patient Zero as an assigned reading for the program. I loved Mr. Maberry’s Joe Ledger books and I’m a zombie fan. Jacob was excited to read a story with a male protagonist after having read The Hunger Games, and he also loves monsters. I was sad to find there were only two books available, but we decided to not let it stop us.
A couple months ago I discovered the next installment in the Rot and Ruin series would be released in September. I contacted Mr. Maberry and explained my project with Jacob and my desire to do a blog series on the importance of giving boys strong protagonists, the gender gap in YA lit, the current popularity of dystopian fiction among the young adult crowd, and my appreciation of his books. He very graciously sent us an advanced reader copy of the third book in his Benny Imura series. Flesh and Bone chronicles the continued adventures of Benny and his crew.
Jake and I both agreed this book is a little different from the first two. Benny, Nyx, Chong, and Lilah have left the safe haven of Mountainside in search of other people and a clue as to whether or not civilization still exists. New characters appear in the great Rot and Ruin and a few old friends, as well. The repercussions human control disappearing are explored. The zombies are different, too, and the kids are left wondering if the infectious agent is mutating.
Mr. Maberry states in the author’s note that the book deals with grief, and it certainly does. There is a sense of loss throughout the book, and many major changes in the lives of the characters. The topic that drew my attention, however, is religion. This book is focused closely on religion and cult behavior. While no modern religion is targeted (e.g. Christianity or Islam), some older faiths are put in the spotlight along with a few elements of modern faiths. This gave Jake and I another topic of discussion and opened up a line communication between us that lead to good questions. I appreciate the way Mr. Maberry dealt with this topic. He shows the dangers of accepting authority without questioning and blind faith while still showing respect to faith in general. I do think Jake picked up on this, and it works very well in the story.
Here is Jacob’s take on Flesh and Bone (warning, he did use a spoiler or two):
Hello, I am Jacob Hopeman and I will be writing this review for Flesh and Bone from a young readers standpoint. I think it is the coolest thing to be able to read a book before its release.
Benny and his friends get back to their quest but are all still shaken up a little after Gameland. When they start moving, all of the zoms are different, faster. Some zoms are even smarter than before. And as they make their way through their quest, they find another force, not just the zoms, is trying to stop them. One word, they call themselves Reapers.
The Reapers startled me at first because they just kind of appeared and then someone was dead. I thought the Reapers were unexpected, but were a good twist to the story.
Benny was my favorite character because so much was going on with him. He was trying to be like Tom yet his friends thought he was pushing it a little too far. He was battling physically yet also mentally. He was fighting mentally for Tom and physically for his life.
One of the questions left at the end of Flesh and Bone is whether Chong actually live through the zombie virus he gets or will the people let him die. Another question left at the end is what the group will do next to survive and keep the world alive.
I, personally, liked the book. That is because it has a lot of twists and turns. Like when a zom bites Chong. Also I like it how Benny still kind of has Tom there so he doesn’t do anything dumb. I also think it was cool how they had Joe Ledger in the book because my mom says he’s really awesome.
I would recommend the book to a friend if they had read the other two otherwise you would be clueless about whats happening. I would definitely recommend the whole series. Go buy it!
P.S.: That zombie card is really cool. Thanks Mr. Maberry! You’re the best!
I’m so glad I could share this great series with my son. I can’t wait for the younger son to be old enough to read it.
Thank you so much, Mr. Maberry, for writing a series that gets the young male readers reading with enthusiasm, and for being so kind to Jake and me.
Flesh and Bone is due for release on September 11, 2012 from Simon and Schuster. You can preorder this book, and get the entire series, from many online retailers, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.