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Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
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's review
Apr 05, 2012

it was amazing
Read in April, 2012

A rare five star book, which is to say that I think this book is about perfect at doing what it does. A coming-of-age novel set about 15 years after the inevitable zombie apocalypse that we've all come to anticipate. There are a few unsurprising twists in this book, but for the most part it is pitch perfect. I especially like how the protagonist, Benny Imura, is forced to grow into his increasingly difficult and complex world and how his worldview has to change. Like all adolescents, Benny thinks he's got the world figured out and resents his older brother Tom for constantly contradicting him on this. By the end, Benny knows he's not the best raw material for a hero, but he and his easily underestimated "family" are all the world has.

It's a good book, and even though it's a pretty simple high concept novel, the characters are interesting and complex. Tom Imura is a great example of a guy who doesn't fight unless he has to, but isn't someone anyone should force into a fight ever. The complexities of human relationships with zombies is unique and actually moving-- all the dead become zombies in this world, and it's not like that walking corpse stops being someone's mom when she dies. The survivors don't want to think about the world that exists outside their little gated community.

There's a subtle analogy throughout of the Western World existing as a kind of gated community itself, not wanting to know about or think the atrocities men with guns commit in Africa, Syria, or Mexico. The book never berates, and never actually states this analogy. You have to find it yourself, and I didn't catch on to this thread until the very last chapter. As is true in the best zombie stories (Romero), the zombies may be dangerous, but the real monsters holding society back and sowing death and pain are humans.

Kudos to this book for also doing a good job on portraying traumatized characters with compassion and realism, and for the little touches that make the underpopulated world of Rot & Ruin feel very complete. I know there are better pieces of fiction out there, but they are few and far between, and I don't know that I've read any of them this year.
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message 1: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie TIL the cover for this book is the mirror image of the cover for the Spanish version of "Handling the Dead" by John Ajvide Lindqvist (and almost the same as an English version, except for the coloring):


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