Jennifer's Reviews > Rot & Ruin

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
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's review
May 20, 2011

really liked it
Read in May, 2011

This is a zombie book with heart and soul. Truly a coming of age story, the setting ensures its readability and attraction to the 15 and up age group - I think it is a bit gory and haunting for younger readers, and more importantly, they would not appreciate its higher agenda. This book is compared not without reason to Lord of the Flies, as its concern is to define human nature without pulling any punches. Humans are portrayed, finally, as truly more frightening than the Zombies they fight, exploit and torture for the amusement and betting rights of the lowlifes.
In the brutality of this post-holocaust dystopian world in which survival of the fittest is the only rule, most of its living citizens don't fall into complete savagery, but are ruled by fear and denial, which erodes their spirit as surely as the Zombie disease degrades the bodies of its victims outside the fences of the human world. The sensitive ones on the inside are haunted by their perception of the erosion of their values and the shrinkage of the group to whom they are loyal - what is left of the concept of family. One or two go beyond this and become heroes - completely unpredictable by type until they are placed into the situations where choices must be made between morality or self-serving protection, and this rings true.
Tom and Benny Imura are in the end two of the few good guys, damaged and limping and hurting and faltering, they feel thousands of pinpricks of pain from the betrayals of inaction, inadequacy and apathy of those around them, and the tragedy of the loss of their own family. In the end these heroes are left with the task of finally 'quieting' the zombies to sleep, so that they can finally die - a life spent killing in order to preserve a memory of the humans that once lived in those bodies, and an ironic way for the most compassionate and unselfish of the characters in this book to earn their survival rations.
Quite an achievement that at the end of this fine novel we are left in the opposite position that we started in: the zombies are objects of pity and most humans lack any redeeming features. The 'cool' people are cowards, and the hope for the future lies in the dangerous outlands inhabited by the zombies. At least the bad creatures who live there lack evil intent and the consciousness of evil: prescient humans can achieve far greater levels of callousness and disregard..

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