Flesh and Bone (Benny Imura #3) by Jonathan Maberry
Published: 11 September 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 469 (hardcover)
Genre/s: Young Adult, Zombie
Source: Own library
Reeling from the tragic events 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. They are hunted by fierce animals escaped from zoos and circuses. They must raid zombie-infested towns for food and medical supplies. They discover the very real truth in the old saying: In the Rot & Ruin…everything wants to kill you.
And what is happening to the zombies? Swarms of them are coming from the east, devouring everything in their paths. These zoms are different. Faster, smarter, infinitely more dangerous. Has the zombie plague mutated, or is there something far more sinister behind this new invasion of the living dead?
In Flesh & Bone, Benny Imura, Nix Riley, Lou Chong and Lilah the Lost Girl are pitted against dangers greater than anything they've ever faced. To survive, each of them must rise to become the warriors Tom trained them to be.
Quite often when I read a series, I find that my interest starts to wane as the series goes on - it's almost like I've completely invested myself in the first books and by the time we roll around to number three I'm feeling a bit tired and jaded and just want to find out how the whole thing ends already.
However, the Benny Imura series has had the opposite effect on me. I enjoyed, but didn't love, Rot and Ruin, and Dust and Decay had me a little more charmed, so I was curious to see where Maberry took things in Flesh and Bone and whether the upward trend would continue.
Flesh and Bone begins shortly after the end of Dust and Decay. Benny, Nix, Chong and Lilah are on the track of the jet they saw flying overhead earlier in the series, determined to find out what is really out in the Rot and Ruin. The action begins straight away as Benny finds himself in a rapidly decaying (yep, I totally went there) situation alone, and the first new character of the series is introduced in rather dramatic fashion.
Introducing a new character halfway through a series can be hit-and-miss because the long-term characters are so much more familiar, but Maberry brings in a completely unexpected character which makes it far more interesting and emotionally compelling.
The Benny Imura series has a familiar theme in pitching the teens (the good guys) against a range of characters who have completely different intentions (the bad guys) and although it could get a little stale having the same formula, Maberry's imagination saves the day. The bad guys in Flesh and Bone stomp all over the previous baddies in the series and are far more frightening than even than those in Dust and Decay. These guys are completely crazy and so far removed from normal human behaviour that I was completely aghast at what they were actually trying to do.
Maberry is very good at developing characters and relationships in the midst of action scenes, and Flesh and Bone is no exception. There are two couples in the awesome foursome, and both are developing along with the characters and the series itself and I love that it all fits together so well. All four are becoming braver and stronger physically, but they also develop emotionally and start to have more insight into themselves and relationships which endeared them to me even more
For fans of Jonathan Maberry there is one awesome thing that happens in Flesh and Bone that was completely unexpected but I totally loved it - and that is one of the characters from his other series pops up as a recurring secondary character.
This series continues to go from strength to strength, growing the 'old' characters and introducing new characters for a fresh perspective - I'm going to be very sad to say goodbye to Benny and the gang.