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.
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Just finished devouring my shiny new copy...feeling a little bereft as I believe this is the end of Benny,Nix,Lilah,Chong,Morgie and Riot's journey...beautiful strong teenagers who have faced every challenge imaginable,supported and fought each other through every trial...Faced insurmountable odds with their teeth gritted and come out on the other side only just...Everyone bears the scars,noone has been protected from devastating loss in a truly horrific world....Mr Maberry has created these people whom I,as a reader have loved and gone through every trial,picturing every scene,every drop of sweat and tear shed!!! This,I believe the final episode has not disappointed,our kids remain true to their characters and their journey has no lack of shocks and horrors to face,including Joe Ledger in his rightful place as a survivor just pulled me in even deeper...the only disappointment in the ending is saying farewell as I close the book to put on the shelf with my other favourites..Excellent Series!
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Straight after finishing the third book in the Benny Imura series, Flesh and Bone, I started reading Fire and Ash. It's quite rare that I binge read a series anymore - blogging tends to make it a bit too much of a balancing act, but once I had the momentum going, I really wanted to find out how this series ends.
As with the other books, Fire and Ash picks up pretty much immediately where the prior book left off. Benny, Lilah, Nix and their new friends, Riot, Eve and Joe, have found Sanctuary, where monks tend to the humans dying of diseases that would have been easily cured prior to first night, but the scientists are isolated from the survivors. This in itself poses an interesting question because more people are dying of disease than being bitten and rising from the dead - how quickly and severly would diseases such as TB, cholera and typhiod decimate survivors in any apocalyptic scenario once the stockpiled medicines and treatments run out?
I have mentioned previously that all the Benny Imura books follow a similar formula - what I didn't realise until reading Fire and Ash are that books one and two are closely linked, as are three and four - but the transition between books two and three is actually the biggest directional change in the whole series. This helps break up the feeling of rinse and repeat, and also allows more room to expand on the two major scenarios of this series.
The major introduction in Flesh and Bone is the religious zealots who believe that murder of the human race is the only answer to the zombie problem - and in Fire and Ash their intentions are really notched up a level - in both books I had a macabre fascination with them, but particularly in Fire and Ash I was shocked at the lengths they were willing to go to in the name of their cause.
Relationships continue to develop and change as they did in Flesh and Bone, but in particular, Benny and Nix begin to reevaluate their relationships as adults rather than teenagers, and are incredibly mature and measured in their approach. For me, this is the biggest arc in the growth of the characters - a theme that began with book one and ends perfectly in book four. Looking back and realising how the characters have grown, changed and adapted both physically and emotionally is bittersweet but also a great example of how Maberry can develop characters from immature teens into independent young adults.
I was once again excited to see Joe Ledger reappear in Fire and Ash and take on a far more pivotal role. By doing this, Maberry has also got me excited to continue the Joe Ledger series itself - I was reminded of how much I enjoyed Joe as a character as well as being curious as to whether the tie-in runs in both directions. Joe is an extra bonus for Maberry fans, but it's definitely not necessary to have read the Joe Ledger series to appreciate him as a character.
Fire and Ash is pretty much non-stop action, and it definitely kept me entertained all the way through. The fight scenes are particularly intense in relation to the rest of the series, and it also reflects again the growth and evolution of the characters.
The reason behind the zombie plague is touched upon for the first time in Fire and Ash, and there is also a lot more delving into the long-term plans of the survivors and the science that started to emerge in Flesh and Bone is finally explained in greater detail, and it makes for fascinating reading.
I'm quite sad to say goodbye to Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong, but I really enjoyed the journey I took with them, and seeing them grow. This is a series that has it all for zombie lovers - there's lots of new zombie ideas, great characters and action scenes that keep all the books flowing but without sacrificing some of the other aspects of the storyline.
Following the events of the previous book benny and his friends have found sanctuary and have started to try and piece together some sort of life at the sanctuary. However with secrets being held from benny and his buddies and the night church still at large our heroes aren't happy to live out a new life at the sanctuary, they want answers and a chance to save humanity. As with the previous books the action is non stop and when the zombies attack everything is told in such great detail you can't help but get drawn into whats going down. Benny, chong, nix and liliah all go through a tough time and are still able to grow and develop right to the very end when the series ends. All of characters are back even if it's a small part to play such as sally two knives, the surfer hunters from the first book, which is a great heads up to the characters that have made this such a rip roaring adventure. My only criticism would be with how saint John is dealt with at the end of the book as it seems to be an easy way out and the end is easy enough to guess once you have the scence set up. All in all I would highly recommend this series it has everything a classic zombie book should have and is a series I would read many times over.