Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
Maberry returns to form, after what I felt was a shaky third entry into the series. Which is a good thing, since this also happens to be the last. Which also means that a lot of the development of the story happens quickly and is sort of dumped on the reader in large chunks--I sort of spaced out when we were given the explanation of the plague, not because I didn't understand it but because it came at me all at once.
I liked the characterization: proving that girls are quicker to mature than boys, Benny is just catching up with Nix, and understanding what she was going through for the past book. I still feel like the series started out with all of the characters far too young, especially for the level of violence. And, to that end, the conclusion felt rather pat and unrealistically optimistic to me, with the kids way too psychologically balance after all they went through--listen, this doesn't need to be The Walking Dead, but I couldn't help think of how Suzanne Collins wrapped up The Hunger Games, managing to incorporate the darkness with a happy ending. The book failed, in my opinion, and the epilogue feels rushed and way too sunny, especially since it had felt so fresh for a YA novel to have the kids grow up and understand that the love they have for each other might not be eternal, that it might change as they mature, and even end. This is a radically different message from 98% of YA. But the end has to sort of finish on that "up" note, and it rang false to me.
I never cared for the Night Church. It's what broke Flesh & Bone for me, that it was so focused on them. While they still remain the central antagonists here, I felt them driving the story more, and yet taking more of a backseat, at the same time; a tricky thing, but it works so much better. I will still always believe that zombies, in fact, are the scariest thing about a zombie apocalypse, not the people, though this trope, I'm sure, will persist.
Overall, a strong entry, if maybe not the best end to a rather remarkable series.