Author: Jonathan Maberry
Series: Benny Imura #2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date Published: August 30, 2011
Source: RAK from last year!
Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them. Sounds easy. Sounds wonderful. Except that everything that can go wrong does. Before they can even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town. But as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers and the horrors of Gameland –where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive?
Curse you Jonathan Maberry! Do you know how much sleep I've lost because I was halfway through your books at bedtime and couldn't bear the thought of not knowing how things end until the next day? I look like one of the zombies from your books as I drag myself out of bed after two hours of sleep and attempt to get through the day exhausted, but literature-ally satisfied from my reading adventures the night before. This time really did it though because I didn't study for my exam because I was so wrapped up in Benny, Tom, Nix and Charlie's story. Oh well...who needs education when I have zombie books to read?
The story picks right up pretty much right when the last book left off. At the end of book one, Benny, Tom, and Nix see something they've never dared to hope, a jet flying overhead. As far as they knew, their city and the few settlements that they trade with were the last humans alive, but the jet proves that there's someone else back east. Someone else has survived the horror of the last 15 years and they seem to have it a bit easier (at least technologically). S For the last few months Benny, Nix, and Chong have been preparing for the trek over the mountains back east by learning martial arts and how to survive.
The character development in this book was absolutely wonderful. Benny has really grown up over the last few months since his first venture into the Rot & Ruin. In a world where kids already have to grow up fast, Benny, Nix, and the rest seem to have aged decades. Even though they are so cynical about the world, it was really nice to see Benny and Nix act like kids in love...though mature kids in love, and it was adorable the way Benny struggled so long to tell Nix how he feels. After what happened to Nix in book one, you can totally feel her pain and see why she has become this fierce, sometimes harsh, tough-as-nails chick who's hellbent on getting revenge as well as getting out of the town that holds nothing for her anymore. Lilah too has become a new person as she has started to adapt to living among people and forming social bonds and relationships. I really enjoyed seeing each character grow into themselves and really start to shine.
Tom and the gang's plans get thrown when there's a zombie attack inside their village and they decide to leave the next day. The scene where they leave the village behind for good was both hard to get through and touching in a melancholy kind of way. However, almost right from the start things go wrong. Confusions and slip-ups lead to injuries and upsets practically before they get out of earshot of the town and mistakes on everyone's part eventually leads to the group getting separated.There's the constant threat of zombies, mixed with bounty hunters who are none to thrilled to see the kids who killed Charlie Pink-Eye. Then there's the worst threat of all...dun dun DUN....escaped zoo animals.
Lol I know right? There was a rumbling in the woods and I'm thinking...swarm of zombies...evil bounty hunters who created a car...rock slide...but no...out steps. A rhino. What?! A rhino? I kind of lost at first but then realized the pure genius of what Maberry did. Name anyone else that thought about what is going to happen to the zoos when the zombie apocalypse hits. That's right nobody. But chances are good that something had to happen to them. Could they turn into zombies? Would zombies want to eat them? Would a kind hearted zookeeper try to free his charges so that they wouldn't starve to death? Either way I was actually really interested by the rhino's appearance. It turns the wilds of North America into an even more dangerous place. Instead of a world where the biggest bad is a grizzly bear, the people of the Rot and Ruin now have to worry about lions and tigers and all sorts of other beasties. Humans may have once been on the top of the food chain but it seems like they may be nearing the middle now. With cheetahs and crazed giraffes on the run what's a few zombies?
There's a whole lot more to the story than what I'm telling you, but to be honest you are better off just going out to by the books and get reading than to continue reading here. I don't want to spoil everything for you guys so I won't reveal the true antagonists of the story, but let me tell you, they brought goosebumps up my spine and succeeded in freaking me out so much that I had nightmares. Then in order to deal with the villains, there had to be an increase in heroes of course. The call to arms of the other zombie hunters (the ones who were friends with Tom) was freaking chill-inducing. It was like those epic battle-prep scenes in movies where you can't breathe, can't speak, can only sit there gripping the seats as the events unfold before you. I sat there practically jumping out of my seat with nerves as Sally Two-Knives, Solomon Jones, Greenman, J-Dog and Sr. Skillz each made their own appearance and then finally tackled the zombie pits
That ending...Double curse you Maberry!! I was seriously shaking and crying and banishing Jonathan to the seventh circle of hell for what happened. Literally, picture me rocking in a corner clutching the book and going "No No No NO NO NOOOOOOOOO" because that's pretty much what happened...Even now I'm getting all riled up just thinking about it! Things were going so well! Then even though Benny got what he was looking for, he paid a huge price along the way. *angst-ridden sigh* It was especially shocking because of how events played out in the last book, you tend to look at all the main characters as invincible, but this one showed that everyone is in danger in the Rot & Ruin, villains and heroes alike.