Jason's Reviews > Rot and Ruin

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
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's review
Jul 16, 11

bookshelves: e-books, read-2011
Read in July, 2011

5 Stars

This is a very different Maberry novel in that Benny Imura, our main protagonist, is just a 15 year old, somewhat naive and innocent boy, about to grow up into a man.  There is no Joe Ledger or Malcolm Crow in this one, and that is just fine.

Clearly written to have the YA appeal, and to be current with one of today's most popular genres, that of Zombies. Maberry's fresh take on this is apparent right from the start and from the characters that he portrays. 
As many other reviewers have already stated, readers that enjoyed The Forest Of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan (I absolutely loved) will find this one to be right up their alley. Think of it as the male take on the post apocalyptic small town genre. 

This is a story that centers on character development much more than it does the plot or the world building. The zombies are just one aspect to life after the "First Night". Benny Imura is our main young man and he really hates zombies.  "The way that Benny saw it, was that when your first memory was of zombies killing your parents, then you had a license to hate them as much as you wanted." Benny also has a great dislike, and resentment towards his older half brother as he blames him for his mother's death and their subsequent running away. 

The town that he lives in is kept safe by fences, rules, and curfews. People are required to sleep alone at night in locked rooms that can prevent a recent turned from eating the rest of the family.  Benny needs to find a job as he is now of age and is required by law to work to receive full rations.  Many different jobs invovling waste management... Farmers, laborers, and other town like jobs were no interest to Benny. He tried out to be an "Erosion Artist", an artist that takes pictures of people and then zombieifes them to show what they would look like as zoms., but he did not have what it takes. His brother Tom is a Bounty hunter, a person that is employed to find loved ones out in the "Rot and Ruin" and to then put them to rest. 

Even in this awful post apocalyptic world, our heroes strive to make a good life for themselves and to hope and dream of better times. Benny said "It's just that I'm fifteen, and I have the crazy idea that I might actually have a life in front of me. I don't see how it's going to do me much good to believe that the world is over and this is just an epilogue."  This is a powerful theme throughout this book and it works. Benny reminds me a bit of Temple, my favorite protaginist from last years wonderful novel The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell.

Maberry continues to try and paint a bright spot on this bleak canvas by giving us bits and parts of Tom Imura as the story progressed. Tom is an honorable, respectable, and fearless bounty hunter that changes how is brother looks at the world, and how we the reader look at the zombies. There are several pauses in the story where more about Tom, his past, and his present are told to us. These moments are the most impactful of the book and they shape Benny into a young man. I really liked the way that Maberry took his time and used the entire novel to tell us about Tom...

I am a huge fan of Maberry's and feel that he is a master at the written action scene. There are some good ones in here, but those that are seeking more should look to his Joe Ledger books, and the amazing Ghost Road Blues trilogy.   I am impressed with Maberry's ability to tone down his writing to be suitable for the YA crowd and to potentially have a bigger audience. But, make no mistake this book will appeal to most fans of the zombie genre, and his fans will not be let down.

I am glad that this is just book one in a series and really look forward to book number two next month. Jonathan Maberry is one of my favorite authors, and if you have not read him before, I give him my highest recommendations.
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