Carolyn Storer's Reviews > Rot & Ruin

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
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's review
May 06, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, zombies, book-list-2011
Read from March 20 to April 24, 2011

"Rot & Ruin" is a difficult review to write. It took me almost a month to finish and yet I really enjoyed it. It's quite a lengthy novel but for the first 250 pages, not very much happens other than a lot of ground work and characterisation, which I must say is out of this world.

However, although the first half took me weeks to get through due to putting it down, reading something else and then picking it up again, the second half of this book I gobbled up in two days, and now I've finished it I have to say that "Rot & Ruin" is a pretty sensational young adult novel.

Benny is a fourteen year old boy who lives with his older step-brother, Tom, in a fairly small community which banded together after 'First Night' when zombies took over the world. The humans that survived still really don't know what caused the rise. Benny is old enough now that he needs to find a job and so joins Tom in the family business of killing "zoms".

Benny's character arc is just fantastic. He begins the novel as an annoying child that really doesn't understand much of what is going on around him, and interprets memories as he sees fit. But as the story moves forward Benny learns a lot and begins to understand his brother Tom and by the end of the novel Benny is a true hero, much more mature and certainly more likeable.

Tom is a great character and I identified more with his character than Benny's but I think that is because he is more my age. He's strong, talented with a sword and has a good soul. He kills "zoms" not because he finds it entertaining like a lot of the other bounty hunters but because he wants to give families of the damned closure and he does it with as much dignity as the situation and circumstances allow. His character is very central to Benny's as Tom helps him understand and grow. Tom teaches Benny a lot knowingly, by directly trying to teach and show him things, but also unknowingly, by his actions and attitude.

The characterisation is superb. The descriptions of the surrounding desolated, zombie ridden landscape is vivid and the community the characters live in is described well. You can tell that each character has had time spent on them; fleshing them out so they are realistic and believable. As well as Benny and Tom, there are many other characters that make up this novel and give it its depth. They are all crucial to my overall impression of "Rot & Ruin" and without them I'm not sure the characters of Benny and Tom would have worked so well.

"Rot & Ruin" isn't all about the zombies. In fact there's not a lot of zombie action, it is mostly about the human interactions and confrontations which occur because of the messed up world they live in. It is very thought-provoking.

I knew what was coming at the end, in the epilogue, but it was incredibly effective all the same. The ending moved me and brought tears to my eyes. It really is a fantastic ending and yet leaves the story open to more books in the world of The Ruin.


"Rot & Ruin" is a fabulous novel that has much more to do with the characters and the world they live in rather than just undead brain munchers. However, although I would have preferred a bit more zombie action, this novel is amazing and I would definitely recommend it to everyone - but be patient because it's totally worth it.
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03/08/2011 page 30
06/14/2015 marked as: read
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