Anyone who looks at my Goodreads status updates for this book might believe that I was struggling to get through it or that it wasn’t as good as the first two in the series (which I finished in short order.) That couldn’t be further from the truth. With the holidays, I was trying to put myself on a book buying hiatus and I didn’t have book four in my library yet. The idea of finishing this one and being unable to pick up Fire & Ash was not something I wanted to contemplate. So, I read this slowly and tried to hold on to Benny and the crew. It was worth the extra time and I have ordered F&A – thank goodness – so that I can end the journey with these friends.
Flesh & Bone is the third book in the Rot & Ruin series. It would be impossible to give any sort of summary without major spoilers for the prior books so let’s just skip that step. Mostly because you need to read this series. I hope that you experience it untainted so that you can see the surprising beauty of this YA story that seems to be about a group of teenagers fighting zombies but is really so much more. And, if you dismiss it because it’s YA, then you are missing out. It is tightly written with well-developed characters and an unbelievable amount of emotional depth.
Friendship and family, grief and love, loyalty and bravery, anger and fear, happiness and heartbreak – it is all here. I know I sound like some sort of geeked out fangirl of Jonathan Maberry (and I am) but I truly feel like this is a story that stays with you. I mentioned in an earlier review that the true villains in the Rot & Ruin aren’t the zombies. It’s other people. Greedy, power-hungry and zealot-like people. There isn’t a lot of fun to be had when you have to fight both the zombies and your fellow humans. It would be easy for this to become a morose and depressing story. Maberry doesn’t pull any punches with the physical and emotional dangers the characters face. But, there is always hope. And that hope for a better life, for a little peace, is what drives the narrative forward in such a powerful way. I don’t read these books to get to the next action sequence (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I read them because they help me believe that, even in the face of great adversity, there are good people out there who are willing to do what is right. Even when it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do.
I could go on for pages about Flesh & Bone but I will just leave you with a few of my favorite quotes:
“It was why Lilah did not fear death. So many of the people she loved were waiting for her there.”
“He never did get right all the way again. And every once in a while he’d come down all bitey.”
From the author’s note: “After they died, I found it painful and difficult to accept that the sun shone, the birds sang in the trees, and the world turned without them. Grief is like that. To resist or deny grief does no good. It hurts us to pretend that we are not hurt.”