REVIEW: Flesh & Bone (Benny Imura #3) by Jonathan Maberry

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Genre: Young Adult/ Zombies, Pages: 469, Level: Easy

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

“The stakes are higher and the zombies are deadlier in this third of an action-packed series that’s “an impressive mix of meaning and mayhem” (Booklist).

Reeling from the devastation of Dust & Decay, Benny Imura and his friends plunge deep into the zombie-infested wastelands of the great Rot & Ruin. Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Chong journey through a fierce wilderness that was once America, searching for the jet they saw in the skies months ago. If that jet exists then humanity itself must have survived…somewhere. Finding it is their best hope for having a future and a life worth living.

But the Ruin is far more dangerous than any of them can imagine. Fierce animals hunt them. They come face to face with a death cult. And then there’s the zombies—swarms of them coming from the east, devouring everything in their paths. And these zoms are different. Faster, smarter, and infinitely more dangerous. Has the zombie plague mutated, or is there something far more sinister behind this new invasion of the living dead?

One thing Benny and his companions can’t afford to forget: In the great Rot & Ruin, everything wants to kill you.”

“Benny Imura thought, I’m going to die. The hundred zombies chasing him all seemed to agree.”

With book three in the Benny Imura series, Maberry manages to impress me with the first two lines. Don’t you love it when a book manages to do that? In Flesh & Bone, the reader follows Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong as they make their way east in search of the airplane and hopefully, a better life. Along the way, they discover things much more disturbing than they could have possibly imagined.

In spite of the dire circumstances, Maberry continues to mix in the humor:

“Yo! Deadheads,” he yelled, waving his sword to taunt them. “Nice try, but you’re messing with Benny-freaking-Imura, zombie killer. Booyah!

And then the lip of the ravine buckled and collapsed under his weight, and Benny-freaking-Imura instantly plummeted into the darkness below.

What makes this so funny is that I can see someone doing this, even myself. Maberry’s writing is so good it is easy to visualize the scenes. He manages to write something that could be translated to the big screen very well, yet does not sacrifice any quality to the writing. That’s impressive.

Of course, the intelligence of the series also continues:

Chong leaned close to Benny again. “This is fascinating,” he said quietly. “If there are other settlements out here, then they’re probably like islands or distant countries used to be in the days before the world was mapped. So isolated that their own phrasing and references- all the slang and jargon that we’ve used since First Night- is going to be different.”

I love how Maberry looks at many different aspects of the zombie apocalypse aftermath. Chong makes an intelligent observation about society in the Ruin rebuilding itself and compares it to societies in history. This type of detail seems largely ignored in your run of the mill zombie book. Not only does the author successfully incorporate it into his story, he also makes me wonder why all the other zombie books I read did not even consider this natural development.

Of course one of my favorite things about Rot & Ruin and Dust & Decay was the weirdo religious storyline. If you are with me on this one, Flesh & Bone will absolutely, positively not disappoint. It only gets deliciously creepier.

In addition, the author throws all kinds of new stuff out there for the reader. Suffice it to say, Maberry obviously has a head full of ideas because he still manages to throw in some really good ones in book 3.

Finally, the quality of the writing remains remarkable:

“Hell? [She] knew hell. It had nothing to teach her, no new tricks it could play on her.”

Wait until you read it in context. My heart dropped.

As I mentioned in my review of Dust & Decay, I was concerned that Maberry would not be able to keep up the engrossing storyline through four books and I was probably doomed to disappointment. Well that disappointment does not arrive in book 3. On the contrary, Flesh & Bone kept me on the edge of my seat. There were times that I was so anxious I felt like running around in circles just to ease some of the excess energy. But I didn’t because I can’t run and read at the same time. Anyway, three down, one to go. Can Maberry keep it up? I guess we’ll find out when Fire & Ash is released on August 27, 2013 (according to Goodreads).

Reviewed by Christina

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