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Book Review: Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry

“The act of dying is one of the acts of life.” –Marcus Aurelius
Releases September 12, 2012 from Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9781442439894
Flesh and Bone is the third book in the Rot & Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry
Rot & Ruin imagines a post apocalyptic world in which a virus turns everyone who dies into zombies and in this now primitive seeming world, everyone is fighting just to stay alive.
Book 1 in the series is Rot & Ruin and Book 2 in the series is Dust & Decay

Following the events at Wawona, and Gameland and the defeat of Preacher Jack; Benny, Nix, Chong, and Lilah are reeling from the loss of their mentor, Tom.  They have seen and committed more violence then they thought possible, and now, rudderless, they see no other option but to continue their search for the airplane and the possibility of a better life.  When Benny spots a woman who seemingly has control over the zombie horde, he has no idea that he and the other members of his group will be catapulted into their most deadly challenge yet.  Battling a dark, religious cult whose sole quest is the extermination of all remaining life on Earth, the gang will need to muster every ounce of their warrior smarts (with a little help from a friend) to survive.

The Reapers, as the cult is known, have been brain-washed into believing that the zombie plague is the wrath of god and anyone left alive is a heretic.  Once they have cleansed the world of living flesh, the plan is to turn their weapons upon themselves and leave the world to the zombies.  All throughout what is left of the United States, the Reapers have destroyed villages and slaughtered thousands.  Upon hearing a rumor that there is a facility dedicated to finding a cure for the zombie outbreak, known as The Sanctuary, the Reapers set their sights on finding this installation and burning it and all its inhabitants.  Benny and the Jets have the misfortune of crossing paths with the Reapers and find themselves trapped in the wake of survivors fleeing a local village that has just been raided.

Throughout this book, the gang makes some really shocking discoveries.  The reader is given a lot of information on the origin of the outbreak and what’s left of the country.  Unfortunately, we lose one and possibly two members of our group, while making a very powerful and resourceful friend (who will be familiar to any of you who have read some of Jonathan’s other series).

It doesn’t matter how many zombie/post-apocalyptic books I read, there is just something about the way Jonathan Maberry writes them that makes me grateful zombies haven’t eaten my brains and left me incapable of reading. This is probably one of the most “grown-up” YA series I’ve read, and with the inclusion of the deep, religious fanaticism and the desperation of the group after losing so much, this is certainly the most adult book of the series.  The only thing that wore on me was the dialogue between Nix and Benny and the feeling that every conversation was going to turn into an argument, but I looked past it because they’re trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic, zombie, wasteland…so I’m sure tensions are high.    For me at least, it had the right amount of “feeling”, with relationships forming and relationships being torn apart without becoming melodramatic.  (The zombies may have left my brain, but they certainly took my heart…in more ways than one.)

Overall, a great addition to a great series and I recommend it whole-heartedly.  I can’t wait to finish off the series with Fire & Ash next year. – Chris

Karen’s Take: I too am a HUGE Rot & Ruin series fan and was waiting anxiously to read book 3, Flesh and Bone.  As Chris said, there is just something about Maberry and his ZA books that speak to the heart – erm – the brains of us.  Book 3 introduces a lot of new characters and twists, explores our weary gang of survivors a little more deeply, and brings in some fun crossover from another popular Maberry series.  As someone who has studied religion (in my case, the Christian faith), I always find it interesting how survivors in a post apocalyptic world twist the nuances of faith to fit their ever change needs and knowledge, it seems to come up in almost every ZA book I read.  Meeting the new players slows down the front matter of the book a little, but rest assured that there is plenty of action and insight to keep series readers invested and hanging on for the final book, Fire & Ash.  Flesh & Bone is also, interestingly enough, a great book that looks at dealing with grief.  I thought this aspect of the story was handled incredibly well and rang true, especially in light of the fact that fans of the series are grieving just as much as the main characters. 

If you read the Ledger novels (written for adults), you know that Maberry does action really well.  But if you read the Rot & Ruin novels you know that he also does character development really well and somehow finds the perfect balance between the two.  Also, the Rot & Ruin series will fit nicely into your multicultural book displays as well as your dystopian and zombie book displays.  I, personally, am hoping they are made into movies.

I give Flesh & Bone 4.5 out of 5 stars.  The Rot & Ruin series is one of my go to series for readers of all ages when doing one on one reader’s advisory, and it is a great read for guys.

Looking for more zombie books? Here are some of our favorite zombie books.  Tell us yours in the comments.


  1. Thanks for those wonderful reviews! I'm delighted that you enjoyed FLESH & BONE (it's my favorite of the series so far). Right now I'm a few days away from finishing the fourth book, FIRE & ASH.

    And…you mentioned movies. That's looking pretty likely. Details soon.

  2. You should read what Chris wrote but took out: If George Romero is hearing footsteps behind him it's because Maberry is shuffling towards his legendary status.

    Karen wants more movie details. I had Jensen Ackles pictured in my mind to play Tom – seemed like perfect casting – until a friend reminded me that the Imuras are in fact Japanese.

  3. Tom is full Japanese; Benny's father was Japanese, his mother was Irish-American.

  4. Thanks for clarifying. And thanks for some awesome multicultural main characters.

  5. are you gonna make a movie because that would no dought be legend wait for it …………………………………………………………………………………..dairy (quote from how i met your mother). but seriously that would be awesome.

  6. These books just have to be made into movies. I am 54, and I love them! So many of the YA books are making big movies, the Twilight series, Hunger Games, and this one would be so great. Can't wait to read number 4!

  7. I agree with these other comments this series should deffinently be made into movies i have read the first to and just started the third flresh and bone and i love them and plan on buying all four of them and i would own all the movies but your awesome keep writhing

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