Title: Rot & Ruin
Authors: Jonathan Maberry
Genre: YA/ Horror
Genre: YA/ Horror
It has been 14 years since “first night” - a night where humans turned zombie. Benny Imura was only 18 months old when his older brother Tom whisked him off leaving their infected parents behind. Now at 15, living in a town of survivors called Mountainside, Benny is at the ripe age for a job. See at 15 the townfolk must work in order to continue receiving their rations. Benny and his BFF Chong are in need of jobs - but Benny can’t seem to find anything that works for him - he has tried being a locksmith, a fence tester and technician, a carpet coat salesman, a pit thrower, a crank generator repairman, a spotter, a bottler, and an erosion artist. He has either hated, been bored, fired or turned down from all of them. Left with no other recourse, he reluctantly turns to his brother Tom and the family business.
Tom is a notorious zombie killer - he's well respected and loved by the community. But Benny doesn't understand why people look at Tom as a hero. He's quiet, doesn't like violence and he definitely does not talk about what he does out in the Rot & Ruin. He's nothing like the other zombie killers in the neighborhood - Charlie Pink-Eye and the Motor City Hammer. Working as Tom's apprentice, Benny ventures out into the Rot & Ruin (a/k/a what's left of our zombie infested country). Through Tom's insightful teachings, Benny learns many a lesson - including what Tom does for a living, what's outside the fences and how sometimes zombies might be the least of their problems.
I have to admit that when I first saw this book - I had no idea it even existed. I grabbed it with two things in mind - "Oh cool, another zombie book!" and "Wow, I love this cover!" With that said, I think Rot & Ruin is the best zombie novel I've ever read... and I'll tell you why.
Firstly, I loved that this book takes place years after the zombie infestation. Benny was a small boy when everything went down - so I thought it unique to get his thoughts and opinions on the life they now live since first night. I loved that their town has survived, that they've found ways of dealing with the zombies. The zombies are only attracted to sound so if you're quiet and fast enough you can get around them without them even noticing you were there. Humans take all sorts of precautions just in case someone dies in their sleep (of course, becoming zombified shortly thereafter), etc.
Another thing that I found very refreshing is that, on more than one occasion, I found myself feeling sorry for the zombies. Yes, they're bad, and if they get near you they'll bite you and then, well... you're a goner - but on the other hand, these were also people. They were someone's mother, father, sister, brother, husband, etc. They didn't choose to become a zombie - they just are. I loved how Tom dealt with them and how he was a "closure specialist" and not a zombie killer.
But what I must say was my favorite about this novel was that there was so much plot... so much story... so much heart in this book. The zombies were almost like a side note. Obviously they played a big part in the novel, but Benny & Tom's past, future, their relationship, Benny growing up, getting over his anger issues, and becoming someone who was brave and tough. Their town, their friends, the danger - this was all so much more interesting to me. I was captivated from the first chapter. I just wanted to know more and more about them. And as with any zombie novel, you can't help but invest feelings into these characters - always knowing that they are in danger 100% of the time.. just one bite is all it takes. There were times where I was scared to turn the page - I was cringing when there was a zombie in the near vicinity. It was great!!
I truly went through a range of emotions reading this. There were times where I laughed, times were I wanted to scream in outrage and even times were I found myself tearing over it. This is one zombie book that I guarantee will be a hit with many - it is one that I could not put down and one that I can recommend - because there is something in it for everyone. For those of you who have never read a zombie book - I recommend this be the one you pick up. It is awesome!
See this great little video with author Jonathan Maberry.