The aptly named fifth book in the Rot & Ruin series fills in gaps and provides key back story to the series.
Although not always chronological in order, vignettes, short stories, and snippets from Nix’s journal are told sequentially in relation to the books in the series. While many stories are dedicated to main characters, such as the beloved Tom Imura, others give fun background on seemingly minor presences, like the Bride of Coldwater Creek (once mentioned on one of Benny’s zombie trading cards in Rot & Ruin). And even as some stories fill in details from the past, such as how Riot came to be named, others begin to look ahead, including at how Benny must reconcile his role after Tom’s death. Like the series as a whole, the stories here interconnect and build upon one another. In the process, essential themes—love, mercy, knowledge, belief, and independence—emerge and guide the stories. The most important theme highlighted—heroism—offers hope not only against the zombies, but for continued humanity. There are still plenty of spine-tingling battles, but the emphasis here is philosophical, allowing readers to pause and consider Maberry’s weighty turns of phrase.
An entertaining divergence from the solid series. (Science fiction. 13 & up)