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Fitting finale to a YA zombie horror quartet
on 2 December 2013
It's several weeks after FLESH AND BONE. The doctors at Sanctuary have stabilised Chong so he hasn't gone full zom but his hunger for human flesh means that he no longer recognises his friends. To cure him the doctors need a formula that Dr McReady was working on before she disappeared but they don't have the soldiers to spare on what everyone believes is a fool's errand. Everyone that is, except Benny who thinks he knows where to look and persuades Joe Ledger, Nix, and Lilah to accompany him on a search and rescue mission.
But even if they do find a cure all might be lost. Saint John is leading his army of reapers and zoms towards Mountainside and he has his own zealot scientists who are using McReady's research to turn the zoms into fast running troops capable of using tools and developing strategy ...
The final book in Jonathan Maberry's YA zombie quartet is an event-filled thrill ride with a group of characters who really have to mature and deal with events that even adults find difficult to cope with. I particularly enjoyed the emotional damage that the characters suffer and which they recognise they're suffering, even as they desperately strive to build a better future because they know that no one else can. It's a dark book with some unexpected - and brutal - character deaths. If I have a complaint it's that the denouement goes on a little too long with a couple of surprises too many for me and Saint John and his Reapers are rather two-dimensional and under-developed with the explanation for their loyalty not quite convincing. That said this is a solidly entertaining YA zombie quartet that I'd recommend to burgeoning horror fans.
Benny and Nix do a lot of growing up in this book and I really enjoyed the way they have to examine their relationship and their feelings for each other. I wished Lilah and Chong had the same emotional resonance in their relationship. There are some neat cameos - I loved THE WALKING DEAD reference - and I'm going to pick up Maberry's Joe Ledger books on the strength of his appearance here. Maberry's prose is workmanlike rather than inspired but it does the job and the plot keeps coming in fast-paced waves. All in all it's a fun read and worth checking out.