Dust and Decay -- Jonathan Maberry
Spoilers about the first book abound, so if you haven't read Rot & Ruin, continue at your own risk.
It's been months since Benny Imura's first adventure out in the Rot & Ruin, where he grew to love and respect his older brother, fell in love with his friend Nix Riley, and learned that the most monstrous creatures in this post-apocalyptic world aren't the undead—they're his fellow human beings.
He also saw an impossible relic of the past—something he'd have never believed in if he hadn't seen it for himself: a silver jet. Due to the whole Fighting For His Life thing, the mystery had to be back-burnered, but now it's time to investigate: Tom, Benny, Nix, and Lilah are about to leave the relative safety of Mountainside, probably forever.
They're heading straight into the zombie-infested Ruin in search of the jet. And, of course, zombies aren't the only—or even the most frightening—danger: there are rumors of Gameland being rebuilt yet again, and even more disturbing, there have been sightings of the until-now-presumed-dead Charlie Pinkeye.
If you were a fan of Rot & Ruin, then you'll definitely want to read this sequel. It's got the same strengths (thoughtful exploration of humanity vs. inhumanity; action sequences; world-building) and the same weaknesses (lightweight characterization; occasionally wobbly writing, mostly centered around telling vs. showing of emotions), and as in the first book, the final action/fight sequence is awesome. Maberry also makes up for the only OH, COME ON moment in the first book, in that (I'm trying to avoid huge spoilers here) there are a couple of huge moments of life-changing finality. In other words, not everyone gets a happy ending.
Nutshell: It's got the same fun mix of zombie apocalypse and samurai western, made even more enjoyable by the fact that Benny doesn't spend the first third of the book being a brat (as he did in the first one). If you haven't read Rot & Ruin (or if it's been a while), Maberry gives a quick recap at the beginning, so it'll be easy for you to catch up in time for the third book, which is due out this fall.
Book source: ILLed through my library.
Read for the 7th Annual 48-Hour Book Challenge.