Maberry delivers a fitting conclusion to his popular Rot & Ruin series.
Filling in back story throughout, this fourth novel picks up three weeks after Benny and his teen allies discovered the elusive jet that guided much of the series’ story arc. Now bunkered in a monastery that also serves as a government laboratory, they await the fate of their friend Chong, who was bitten by a zombie at the end of the third novel. As the teens search for a missing government researcher who may just hold the antidote to the zombie plague, religious zealot and psychopath Saint John continues his genocidal holy war, using an army of living dead. The focus of this novel is less on gory battles (though there are still plenty to keep fans entertained) and more on successfully tying together the characters and storylines from the series. The suspense comes instead from the teens’ race to find a cure for Chong, save their hometown from zombie attacks and ultimately regain control in their part of the new American Nation. Benny’s conscious realization that he has crossed over from boy to a man with a future ahead of him and that his generation must fix the problems of the previous one will particularly strike a chord with adolescent readers.
In the end, this gripping zombie saga is really about Hope & Love. (Science fiction. 13 & up)