Dust & Decay (Rot & Ruin Series #2)

Dust & Decay (Rot & Ruin Series #2)

by Jonathan Maberry


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Dust & Decay (Rot & Ruin Series #2) by Jonathan Maberry

“The zombie attacks are bigger, better—and gorier—in this nearly non-stop action sequel to Rot & Ruin” (Kirkus Reviews). Winner of the Bram Stoker Award.

Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also been six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them.
But before they even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town, and as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers, and the horrors of Gameland—where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive?
In the great Rot & Ruin, everything wants to kill you. And not everyone in Benny’s small band of travelers will survive….

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442402362
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 09/11/2012
Series: Rot & Ruin Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 519
Sales rank: 102,602
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling author, five-time Bram Stoker Award winner, and comic book writer. He writes in multiple genres including suspense, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and adventure; and he writes for adults, teens, and middle grade. His works include the Joe Ledger thrillers, Glimpse, the Rot & Ruin series, the Dead of Night series, The Wolfman, X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate, Mars One, and many others. Several of his works are in development for film and TV, including V-Wars, which will be a Netflix original series. He is the editor of high-profile anthologies including The X-Files, Aliens: Bug Hunt, Out of Tune, Hardboiled Horror, Baker Street Irregulars, Nights of the Living Dead, and others. He lives in Del Mar, California. Visit him at JonathanMaberry.com and on Twitter (@JonathanMaberry) and Facebook.

Read an Excerpt



“Why do we have to study this stuff?” he demanded. “We already know what happened. People started turning into zoms, the zoms ate just about everyone, everyone who dies becomes a zom, so the moral of this tale is: Try not to die.”

Across the kitchen table, his brother, Tom, stared at him with narrowed eyes. “Are you deliberately trying to be an idiot, or is it a natural gift?”

“I’m serious. We know what happened.”

“Really? Then how come you spent most of last summer complaining that no one my age tells anyone your age the truth about the living dead?”

“Telling us is one thing. Essays and pop quizzes are a whole different thing.”

“Because heaven forbid you should have to remember anything we told you.”

Benny raised his eyebrows mysteriously and tapped his temple. “I have it all right here in the vast storehouse of knowledge that is me.”

“Okay, boy genius, then what started the plague?”

“Easy one,” Benny said. “Nobody knows.”

“What are the leading theories?”

Benny jabbed his fork into a big piece of buttered yam, shoved it into his mouth, and chewed noisily as he spoke. It was a move calculated to annoy Tom in three separate ways. Tom hated when he spoke with his mouth full. He hated it when Benny chewed with his mouth open. And it would muffle most of what he said, which meant that Tom had to pay even more attention to the yam-packed mouth from which the muffled words came.

“Radiation, virus, bioweapon, toxic waste, solar flares, act of God.”

He rattled it off so there was no break between the words. Also annoying, and worth at least another point on Benny’s personal Annoy-O-Meter.

Tom sipped his tea and said nothing, but he gave Benny the look.

Benny sighed and swallowed. “Okay,” he said, “at first people thought it was radiation from a satellite.”

“Space probe,” corrected Tom.

“Whatever. But that doesn’t make sense, because one satellite—”

“Space probe.”

“—wouldn’t carry enough radioactive material to spread over the entire world.”

“We think.”

“Sure,” conceded Benny, “but in science class they told us even if one of the old nuclear power plants did a whatchamacallit, there—”


“—wouldn’t be enough radiation to cover the entire planet even though it has more radioactive materials than a satellite.”

Tom sighed. Benny smiled.

“What conclusion can you draw from that?”

“The world wasn’t destroyed by radioactive alien space zombies.”

Probably wasn’t destroyed by radioactive alien space zombies,” Tom corrected. “How about a virus?”

Benny cut a piece of chicken and ate it. Tom was a great cook, and this was one of his better meals. Yams, broiled chicken with mushrooms and almonds, and rich green kale. A loaf of steaming bread made from the last of the winter wheat sat near where Benny could plunder it.

“Chong’s dad says that a virus needs a living host, and zoms aren’t alive. He said that maybe bacteria or a fungus was sustaining the virus.”

“Do you know what a bacterium is?”

“Sure … it’s a bug thingy that makes you sick.”

“God, I love it when you display the depth of your knowledge. It makes me proud to be your brother.”

“Kiss my—”


They grinned at each other.

It had been nearly seven months since Benny’s lifelong hatred and distrust of Tom had transformed into affection and respect. That process had started last summer, shortly after Benny’s fifteenth birthday. On some level Benny knew that he loved Tom, but since Tom was his brother and this was still the real world, the chances of Benny ever using that L word were somewhere between “no way” and “get out of my way I’m going to throw up.”

Not that Benny was afraid of the L word when it came to someone better suited for it, namely the fiercely red-haired queen of freckles, Nix Riley. Benny would like very much to toss that word up for her to consider, but he had yet to do so. Shortly after the big fight at the bounty hunters’ camp, when Benny had tentatively tried to bring up the subject, Nix had threatened bodily harm if he said that word. Benny had zipped his mouth shut, understanding completely why the moment had been so inappropriate. Charlie Pink-eye Matthias and the Motor City Hammer had murdered Nix’s mother, and the insane events of the days that followed hadn’t allowed Nix to properly react. Or grieve.

Those days had been the weirdest mix of absolute horror, black despair, and soaring happiness. The emotions he’d felt didn’t seem to even belong in the same world, let alone the same person.

Benny gave Nix her time for grief, and he grieved too. Mrs. Riley had been a great lady. Sweet, funny, kind, and always a little sad. Like everyone else in Mountainside, Jessie Riley had suffered terrible losses during First Night. Her husband, her two sons.

“Everyone lost someone,” Chong often reminded him. Even though they’d been toddlers, Benny and Chong were the only ones among their friends to remember that night. Chong said that it was all a blur of screams and shouts, but Benny remembered it with a peculiar clarity. His mother handing him through a first-floor window to Tom—who was a twenty-year-old cadet at the police academy—and then the pale, shambling thing that had been Dad coming out of the shadows and pulling Mom away. Then Tom running away, his terrified heartbeat hammering like a drum inside the chest to which he held a squirming, screaming Benny.

Until last year Benny had remembered that First Night in a twisted way. All his life he had believed that Tom had simply run away. That he had not tried to help Mom. That he was a coward.

Now Benny knew different. Now he knew what kind of torment Tom had suffered to save him. He also knew that when Mom had handed him through the window to Tom, she had already been bitten. She was already lost. Tom had done the only thing he could have done. He ran, and in running had given value to Mom’s sacrifice, and that had saved them both.

Now Benny was fifteen and a half, and First Night was a million years ago.

This world was no longer that world. On First Night the old world had died. As the dead rose, the living perished. Cities were incinerated by the military in a futile attempt to stop the growing armies of the dead. The electromagnetic pulses from the nukes fried all electronics. The machines went silent, and soon, so did the whole country. Now everything east of the small town of Mountainside was the great Rot and Ruin. A few other towns littered the foothills of the Sierra Nevada north and south of Benny’s home, but the rest of the old world had been consumed.

Or … had it?

During that adventure in the mountains east of town, Benny and Nix had seen something that to them was as inexplicable and potentially world-changing as the zombie plague had been. Flying high, high above them had been a thing Benny had only ever read about in old books.

A jet.

A sleek jumbo jet that flew out of the east, banked in a slow circle around the mountains, and then headed back the way it had come. Now Benny and Nix were counting down the days until they left Mountainside to find where the jet had come from. The calendar pinned to the wall by the back door had black Xs over the first ten days of this month. There were seven unmarked days, and then a big red circle around the following Saturday. April 17, one week from today. The words ROAD TRIP were written in block letters below the date.

Tom thought that the jet was flying in the general direction of Yosemite National Park, which was due east of the town. Benny and Nix had begged Tom for this trip for months, but as the day approached, Benny wasn’t so sure he still wanted to go. It was just that Nix was absolutely determined.

“Earth to Benny Imura.”

Benny blinked and heard as an after-echo the sound of Tom snapping his fingers.


“Jeez … what planet were you orbiting?”

“Oh … just kind of drifted there.”

“Nix or the jet?”

“Little of both.”

“Must have been more about the jet,” Tom said. “There was less drool.”

“You are very nearly funny,” said Benny. He looked down at his plate and was mildly surprised that it was empty.

“Yes,” said Tom, “you were eating on autopilot. It was fascinating to watch.”

There was a knock on the door. Benny shot to his feet and crossed the kitchen to the back door. He was smiling as he undid the locks.

“That’s got to be Nix,” he said as he pulled it open. “Hey, sweetie …”

Morgie Mitchell and Lou Chong stood on the back porch. “Um,” said Chong, “hello to you, too, sugar lumps.”

© 2011 Jonathan Maberry

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Dust & Decay 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 129 reviews.
Mindy_Lou More than 1 year ago
Ok I am SO IN LOVE with this series.. The second book was just as great as the first one.. I must say though I did not see the end going the way that it did.. Kind of a disappointment but not the down fall to the liking of the book.. In this one you are so familiar with the characters that when something happens you feel like you know or feel a little loss at things.. Weird I know but that is how I felt I am so looking forward to another one.. I would recommend these books to everyone I know..
epicrat More than 1 year ago
After being so hyped up on ROT & RUIN, of course I rushed to devour DUST & DECAY like a good zombie who needed a fresh new brain. Was it as tasty as its predecessor? Let me tell you, dear Readers, this sequel was slicker and smarter, but it was simply an extra side of appetizer before the main course begins. Now that Tom and Benny have fully commited themselves to the "family business" and plan to set out into the Ruin in search of answers, the action packed into DUST & DECAY channels the same intensity as its predecessor. I already knew Tom Imura was cool, but holy smoky eyes, does he ever dish out the badass and demonstrate why he is a force to be reckoned with! Smart, strong, honorable, innovative - Tom embodies the ideal hero figure. Even better, Benny gets to prove his worth this time around. Much more mature, thoughtful, and less whiny - he follows in Tom's footsteps and shows promise into being just as strong and amazing as his older brother. I loved the diversity of the bounty hunters - good, bad, newbie, experienced, funny, wacky, solitary - they made an already spectacular zombie story into something even more memorable. From surfer dudes to roller derby queen to woodland hermit, they show that courage can be found from any background - and also that anyone can become a survivor. If you read the book jacket or any sort of summary, you know that our band of heroes do not make it very far into the Ruin - and ultimately land in Gameland. It sounds like a pretty straightforward plot, but Jonathan Maberry milked the journey for all its worth! Introducing new characters both good and bad, having old characters disappear or break away from each other, DUST & DECAY will be sure to make you wonder how everything fits together. It seems pretty strange to watch how quickly the world falls apart since ROT & RUIN, but given the zombocalypse, I suppose nothing is permanent - and everything is always mutating. Don't get me wrong, DUST & DECAY is an excellent stepping stone for the series. Yet, considering that we leave ROT & RUIN with the intent to find the mysterious jet, the characters did not make it too far in that direction. Gameland stood in their way. Leaving their hometown virtually defenseless and prey to other less honorable bounty hunters was not acceptable. Still. I wanted them to find more signs of an outside world in Book 2. This sense of not getting too far away from the beginning reminds me a little of LOST. I hope that Book 3 gets our characters to where they want to be - and that they all get to survive until then. The deaths in DUST & DECAY did not feel as powerful as those in ROT & RUIN - if that makes any sense. In ROT & RUIN, Jonathan Maberry drove home point that zombies are ex-humans who had loved ones, so the deaths played a part in delivering that message. DUST & DECAY did not have as clear a message, and the deaths seemed to prove that life was unfair and ugly sometimes. And there was ONE particular death that will totally change the whole scheme of things - and I hope that Book 3 will be strong enough to survive without this character! I think DUST & DECAY served as another "Book 1" to get to know the characters as they mature and prepare themselves to face the harsh world in order to find answers. Whereas ROT & RUIN focused on the Imura brothers' relationship, DUST & DECAY begins to set the stage up for the group dynamics. It will be exc
First_n_last More than 1 year ago
I definitely have to give kudos to Jonathan Maberry for once again writing a book I found almost impossible to put down. After reading Rot and Ruin last year I knew that Dust and Decay would be on the top of my list for must reads. And I was not disappointed. I look forward to finding out what happens to Benny and Nix. The ending was a heart breaker and written in such an unforgettable way. I would not recommend scrolling further down into the reviews if you havnt read it yet, as there are many spoilers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another fantastic read from Maberry. Its killing me I don't have the time to read it one sitting (which I have done with some of his past novels). Great story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Non stop action, couldn't put it down. Awesome addition to the story and I am hoping for a third book.
Suvorov More than 1 year ago
Wow. Just wow. The second book in the Benny Imura Series, Dust & Decay is even more fantastic than Rot & Ruin! ----- I read a lot of reviews criticizing this series because it is not just a slash 'em up, head chopping zombie story. In addition, some readers think Maberry is preaching with all his 'zombies are people too' speeches. I actually found that to be a nice change of pace. The Benny Imura series imagines a wide spectrum of issues that may result from this unfortunate situation, which are typically ignored by other books in this sub-genre. Remember, this series doesn't take place at the moment of the apocalypse; it takes place many years later as society is trying to find its way back. People are just trying to live their lives as normally as possible under extraordinary circumstances. ----- Relationships continue. Benny and Nix' relationship progresses. Lilah tries to adjust to living with others again. And everyone has to find a way to live with the scars of past experiences. ----- Tom continues his role as the conscience of the new world. He is without a doubt, the hero of Dust & Decay just as he was in Rot & Ruin. He performs his job out of necessity, with precision and respect. ----- There are a lot of close calls. For example, somehow escaping when surrounded by hundreds of zombies. Killing off all the main characters would end the series pretty quickly. However, Maberry doesn't insult the reader by resorting to unbelievable circumstances. The zombies don't attack one at a time and the author doesn't make things convenient for the main characters. When they are out in the Ruin, they run into bad guys and zombies. They get cut. They get burned. They get the snot beat out of them. All this is not a matter of 'if,' it's a matter of 'when.' ----- Although Dust & Decay takes place six months after the events in Rot & Ruin, Benny and his friends are not miraculously masters as is Tom. They still use the bokken. I would think the temptation to cheat and turn the characters into butt kicking samurais would be great, but the author refrains from such tactics. ----- I am also impressed with how consistent the characters and storyline remain. Cadaverine is still commonly used to distract zombies. Lilah still booby traps her surroundings to announce any visitors. Nix still struggles with the loss of her mother. And Morgie still hurts from the fact that his feelings for Nix are not returned. Although the characters' personalities pretty much remain the same, they do mature. Maberry manages to keep this level of consistency without sacrificing character maturity. ----- One of my favorite things about this series is the warped religious fanaticism to which some resort- ----- "Only the Children of Lazarus are pure of heart and immaculate of soul... They are the meek raised up from death to inherit this new Garden of Eden." [Preacher Jack] opened his arms wide to include the green and overgrown expanse of the Rot and Ruin. "They have been reborn in the blood of the old world, washed clean of their sins, and they now walk in the light of redemption. It is only us, the dwindling few, who cling to old ways of sin and heresy and godlessness." I love creepy. ----- I was skeptical that Dust & Decay could be as good as Rot & Ruin and it turned out to be better. I am afraid that after being blown away by Dust & Decay, I am doomed to disappointment. Here's to hoping I'm wrong...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a currently a young reader but have probably read more books then most people twice my age. This is one of my alltime best series i have ever read in my life! I cant wait for the next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey so i think that mayberry should get a best author ever award. So here is what happend i have a librarian friend who gets me free books and one day i got rot and ruin from her. That one took me a month to read. But dust and decay ( in my opinion) was better. I tore through that book in a week and one day. :) I ABSOLUTLY LOVE THIS SERIES!!!!!! Matti age 12
madison green More than 1 year ago
Best zombie book i've ever reaf. Big praise for rot &ruin the first volume. Can't wait for the third book!!! Fff so ijtense couldn't put it down finished it in two day 384 pages. Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read and enjoyed the first installment of this series. The character development, especially between Benny and Tom Imura is fantastic. There's some new characters introduced, both good and bad guys. PHENOMENAL fight scenes, especially involving Samurai Tom Imura. I recommend this book and series. And PLEASE, PLEASE PEOPLE!! STOP ruining it for future readers by laying out so many details in your reviews! Even spoiling everything by telling who dies and who doesn't. Describe how you liked or disliked a book but don't give away lots of details. The story outline is already on the jacket or nook display. Thank you. HAPPY READER
BookWhales More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars! Oh look after a whole month of absence here I am again making a review. Lets start this comeback with the review of the second installment of Benny Imura Series. In this book Legends are made. Just like in my other reviews, I will give my honest review without giving out details and spoilers. So to start of the story, it was several months after the events of the first book. So now we have a fair grasp of the characters and the overall atmosphere the world they are living in. They are stil in the post apocalyptic world of zombies and now their goal is to explore the world out there and find the plane they found on the first book. I think the start of book is good. A little bit slow but definitely worth the pages. The author tries to explore the feelings of the character and their thoughts about living the place they grew up on. We all know it is not easy to just leave everything and it was clever to include this part in the story. Onward to the middle of the book wherein it becomes a lot more action filled and also fast paced. There comes a point in the story wherein suddenly a lot of things are happening and everything and everyone is on the edge. The minute you think "oh finally they can relax" another thing shows up and it continues up to the end of the story. It was written good and makes you excited to turn the pages. By the way I forgot. At certain intervals you can read Nix's journal in between the chapters and its really entertaining to read them. Lots of characters are introduced specially the Bounty Hunters and some villain and it made the story more rich and diverse. New characters are always good since the story does not become stagnant. Towards the end of the story it became more battle-like survival-mode just like at the end of Book 1. Battles are on the large scale which makes it better. With surprises here and there (specially at the end) you will surely enjoy this second part and you will not be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ir is absolutley amazing and it always takes me at least ten minutes to put it down. Anyone with any sort of interest in zombies and post apocolyptic things will die for this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best zombie book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a great book and its really devistating cant wait for flesh and bone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted to buy the paper version of this book, but the bookstore never had it. I gave up and bought it for the nook. Best purchase in a long time. You don't have to read this as part of the series, but it's a good idea. This book is an amazing adventure and I can't wait for Flesh and Bone. Be warned if you are an empathetic reader, nook and wet fingers aren't compatible.
enticed More than 1 year ago
I liked 'Rot and Ruin', but 'Dust and Decay' is better, more intensive and the twist heart wrenching.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me turning pages. Great character development. You get wrapped up in the story, and forget that it's a young adult book. Better than the first!
KyaAliana More than 1 year ago
Dust & Decay is probably my favorite book in the Rot & Ruin series (they are all so amazing that it’s hard to pick a favorite). This book is intense! There’s non-stop action, suspense, and an emotionally gripping storyline. This is everything a good book should be. Jonathan Maberry is powerful writer who knows exactly how to deliver a YA horror book. The monsters in Dust & Decay aren’t zombies at all…no, the monsters are a terrible side of humanity. Humans can be monsters too, and Jonathan Maberry doesn’t shy away from this ugly, scary, and heart-racing plot. I was hooked from the beginning and read this book in one sitting. He’s crafted a world in which you are instantly pulled into. The characters are real, the struggles are real, and the suspense is never-ending. This doesn’t just deal with the destroyed world beyond the safe town of Mountainside. It deals with corruption, conflict, and emotional turmoil that these characters experience. One of the things I love about this book is not just the nonstop action, but how realistically these teenagers are portrayed. These characters are so real that they could be my friends! They have real problems, real conversations, and real conflicts. They way they interact is perfect! This is a gripping book that I highly recommend to any and all!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awsome and amazing book;)
kenjacks2 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVE this series! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Those of you being haters shut UP people are trying to be nice so dont hate i love this book and people like you take the fun out of reading comments if spoilers make you mad then just by the book insted of reading comments duh people who like this book carry on cool cats dont let haters bring you and your awesomeness down as taylor says haters gonna be jerks and hate to reply title it as omg hater thank you BENNY AND ZOMBIE LOVERS EVERYWHERE (you to tom) ; )
Drewano More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book much more than the first, primarily because Benny and his crew are a little more mature and not nearly as whiny as before as he’s been strengthened by what he’s gone through before.  Well written with a great amount of action with a few twists and turns mixed in.  “Dust and Decay” does a great job of immersing you in this world while bringing the characters to life so that you feel a real connection. A must read for any zombie lover.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such an exciting book with a great storyline........ Love the characters...... Awesome series!!!!
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
**Caution: Spoilers! Read at your risk!** Loved Rot and Ruin. This book was also ten times better than Rot and Ruin. Everything just got better when I read this book. The characters got better (except Nix, for some reason I just can’t get myself to like her). There were moments of close calls for these characters and some nail biting moments. I absolutely loved the introduction of the different hunters (the Surfers were awesome! and Sally Two Knives!). The humor is back again in this book, I loved the banter between Benny and Chong. I also loved the banter between Lilah and Chong. I’m so happy they eventually became a couple. It’s an odd couple nevertheless, but given the circumstances of what’s happening around them, it goes hand in hand. The writing style and character development is excellent. There’s a handful of characters to keep track of but the main core would be Benny and his friends. Benny’s group including himself develop, and you see them grow up mentally. After what Nix experiences, she’s matured but through no choice of her own. However whenever you do read the banter between the friends, they act just like kids do and in a sense, it’s comforting because they can still act like their age despite what’s going on around them. The plot itself was excellent, and keep in mind it follows right after the events of Rot and Ruin, so it’s best if you read in order. The final third of the book is filled with action and an epic fighting scene. Unfortunately some characters do have to leave. I didn’t want this particular one to go and was absolutely blindsided with this turn of events. I was so attached to this particular character, I have to admit, I cried. This shows though, that Maberry’s writing and characters are very well done, because we get attached to them emotionally and we cheer them on. Definitely a good follow up to Rot and Ruin, and it looks like it’s a great series so far. An absolute must read for zombie YA readers.