Lyndsey's Reviews > Rot & Ruin

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
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You know when you see yourself in a picture and think, "Ahhhhhhhh! Is that me?"

You just don't look right because you're used to seeing yourself from a different angle in the mirror. That's how this entire book felt because I thought I was seeing it all wrong. Something just seemed off. But more on that later *long drawn out dramatic pause*............ Dun, dun, duuuuuuun.

Beware! Minor Spoilers are afoot (and tagged). That's if you can spoil something that's already 'Rot'ten and 'Ruin'ed to begin with. Haha. Oh, and Major Ranting *salute* runs wild, crazy, and naked all over this review like a mad man on a football field.

Let me start off by saying that this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year so perhaps I went in with much-too-high expectations. I went into it expecting to LOVE it, but often found myself rolling my eyes at what felt like preaching and dumbing-down to a younger audience.

So, the first couple chapters of this book were the most tremendously creative and in depth look at what it takes to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Benny and Chong just turned 15, and it is time for them to start looking for their zombietown survival-related jobs. The jobs were highly original and realistic, well as realistic as you can get for a book about people with Mad Human Disease. As far as this part of the book goes, I was as twitterpated as squirrel with a huge mug of coffee.

Well, Benny ends up becoming a zom hunter. Big surprise there, right? Because a book entirely about a boy who makes his living bottling dead-flesh scent for the hunters to use as zombie repellant would have been awesome! Too bad Benny didn't go for that job. It's also too bad they didn't have a factory for making this drink:

Right from the get go, the characters come alive. Even the dead ones! Har har. But, I suppose that's the point of a zombie book, after all. There are so many intriguing supporting roles in this story. There's a big problem though; they're stagnant characters. They change by the end but only because we are told they've changed, not shown. I didn't feel it, and it didn't seem genuine. They don't have much chemistry together, and the beginning is as good as it gets. At first, I was excited about the characters, but very soon I became annoyed with them.

Thing is: we are introduced to two charming yet ignorant characters, who Benny sees as heroes.  You start out convinced to really like these guys and then it's all turned upside down when they become the center of a vast network of crime and villainy. As unintelligent as they are, simpleton zom hunters Charlie and Hammer are, at first, hilarious side characters/antagonists. I found this part at the beginning with Charlie and Hammer very funny:

"You boys have to be rich as Midas by now."
"Midas?" asked Hammer. "Who's he?"
"I think he sold mufflers," offered Norbert, one of the traders who used armored horses to pull wagons of scavenged goods from town to town, "and then bought a kingdom."
"Yeah," said Charlie, nodding as if he knew that to be the truth. "King Midas. Definitely from Detroit. Made a fortune outta car parts and such."

Kinda funny, right? Unfortunately, it's also the only funny part I actually remembered.

Here I was, thinking these guys would be the Ari and Janco (from Poison Study series) of Rot and Ruin, but Noooo. Soon after, we are supposed to hate them and want them dead as quickly as our protagonist does.

Benny's older brother, Tom, is the zombie hunter who begins training him. But for these guys, it isn't about the gore or adrenaline. It's about closure. People hire them to slay their zombified loves ones so they can rest in peace at last. A good twist on the usual zombie slayage but I missed the massive mayhem usually associated with zombie books. Plus, A LOT of the book was told after-the-fact with other people relating stories to Benny through dialogue. Looooong stories.

Within the stories told to Benny by his brother is another fascinating concept that I actually wish the story had been centered around. There's a place called Gameland where mercenaries pit people versus zombies arena-style, or have them compete in other horrific zombie-themed games and mazes.

The storytelling, namely how much "telling", was really taking a toll on my psyche. Tom would start an important story and ramble on about slightly related things and then say "let's save the rest of the story for later" or "I'm not sure I'm ready to tell you that yet" or "maybe if I trusted you more". Oh my God! Shut up and talk!!! The banter between the two was ridiculous, in a very very bad way that made me want to spank myself just so I could hit something!

This is an embellished version of a conversation between Benny and Tom. Remember, Benny is the whiny younger brother. And Tom is the self-righteous zombie killer.

Benny: I effing hate zoms. I want to kill them!!!!
Tom: But why do you want to kill them, little brother?
Benny: Because they are EFFING zoms and I hate them! Waaah!
Tom: Okay kiddo, but WHY are they zombies?
Benny: Because they EFFING died!!!! Gahhhh!
Tom: And what, little man, were they before they died?
Benny: They were people, you EFFING idiot!
Tom: And knowing that they were once people do you still want to kill them, little brother?
Benny: EFFING yes I do! Ahhhhh! Idiot!
Tom: Are you sure about that, buddy?
Benny: Yes I'm EFFING sure? Why are you all up on me like this?
Tom: Don't you at least want to kill them nicely, little bro?
Benny: EFF Yes! As long as you will shut the EFF up!
Tom: That's not very nice, Benny! Don't you want to be nice?
Benny: Why the EFF are you so EFFING mean to me?!

Yeah, annoying isn't it? Okay, so Benny never actually uses the "eff" word but that was just for dramatic effect.

There are also alot of scenes involving main characters and chaos where all the characters can do is scream each others names. They go a little something like this: TOM! Miscellaneous mercenary mayhem. BENNY! Zombie Mayhem. NIX! Mercenary and zombie mayhem. TOM! Mayhem. BENNY! Mayhem. NIX! You get the picture. We don't really get any inner dialogue or see any foresight from them in these situations, whatsoever. Yes, theres some bashing and slashing. But way too much yelling out names.

I think part of the problem is that my brain is descending into sexual tension oblivion. Almost to the point that I just can't read something where there are no characters who have some sort of underlying physical chemistry together.

This book was interesting, funny at times, and tried to be action-filled but for at least the first half, pretty much ALL of the main characters were male. With the exception of the one girl, who all Benny does is talk about how he doesn't look at her THAT way, while at the same time mentioning how tight her t-shirt is. Huh? How does a teenage boy not look at a hot teenage girl who fills out her shirt in THAT kind of way? Whatevs. Oh, then after all the talk about him not liking her as anything but a friend for what seemed like 3/4 of the book, (view spoiler)

And every once in a while, the perspective would jump to a completely random character for like two paragraphs with unnecessary passages. Why? I don't understand.

Among the stories told to Benny, most center around a mysterious kick-ass character called the Lost Girl, whose heart-pounding stories are all related to Benny in past tense and involving way to much hearsay. It's like what the movie Kick-Ass would have been if Hit-Girl was just always talked about in passing by the characters and then didn't show up until like the last 15 minutes. Who wants that?

There were countless incredible ideas in Rot and Ruin. It just never seemed like we were getting the story from the right perspective. I'm not even sure that Benny was necessary to the story at all. All the backstories would have been better experienced first hand. I would have much rather have seen the story told from the perspective of the Lost Girl starting from the time she was two years old, (view spoiler).

There were a few really good quotes though, and this was one of my favorite:

"People need something to blame. If they can't find something rational to blame, then they'll very happily blame something irrational."

I also really like this one:

"There are moments that define a person's whole life. Moments in which everything they are and everything they may possibly become balance on a single decision. Life and death, hope and despair, victory and failure teeter precariously on the decision made at that moment. These are moments ungoverned by happenstance, untroubled by luck. These are the moments in which a person earns the right to live, or not."

I'm still rating higher because I liked the concept and loved the beginning. But by the end, I hated the fact that I didn't love ANY of the main characters.

I'm really torn up over the fact that I didn't like this more. But not too torn up. As far I can tell, all my limbs are still attached and my flesh isn't hanging off, so that's a good sign. I haven't officially been a victim of zombism yet as far as this book is concerned. The story itself just didn't grab me as much as I expected. I was hoping for the Hunger Games of zombies and I think I got more of the Matched of zombies.

So, after all this frustration, I really need something to cheer me up. And all I found was this.

Truthfully, I think that is more unnerving than is it awesome - and a lot like Rot and Ruin now that I think about it.

Ahhhhh, much better! Now I can rest easy knowing that if zombified felines exist, at least some of them are ADORABLE!
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Reading Progress

October 17, 2010 – Shelved
November 13, 2010 – Started Reading
November 13, 2010 –
page 122
January 16, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-50 of 56) (56 new)

Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews) Hi Lyndsey! Thanks so much for the friend request! This book was great...if you like it, be sure to check out Patient Zero and The Dragon Factory!

message 2: by Lyndsey (last edited Jan 17, 2011 09:08AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyndsey Thanks for the recs!! Jonathan Maberry is really great so far.

Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews) We all have an author (or authors) that we pimp, and I can't pimp him enough, lol!

Lyndsey Oh yeah, I totally understand. I'm the same way with Genesis by Bernard Beckett. That book is crazy. I really think everyone should read it, especially considering it's a meager 150 pages and manages to raise philosophical arguments and tell a complete dystopian story in those few pages. Hmmmm... I think I'll add that to my review. LOL

Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews) oooh, and a new book to add to my to-read list!

message 6: by AH (new) - rated it 4 stars

AH Great review, Lyndsey. Loved all the pictures!

message 7: by Lyndsey (last edited Jan 17, 2011 09:01AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyndsey Thanks! I love visual aids. In fact I was going to use this little guy...

But I thought he was less Zombie Kitty and more Velociraptor Kitty.

Elena R a.k.a. Lunies R OMG! I love it! Your review is hilarious!

Lyndsey Thanks. I feel kinda bad about Major Ranting and his goods hanging out all over this review, especially since I reeeeally wanted to love this book. But I just couldn't stop him. That guy loves to run...

message 10: by AH (new) - rated it 4 stars

AH I have it on my list to read soon. It does qualify as dystopian or apocalyptic - I mean, zombies, right?

Lyndsey Apocalyptic, definitely. And alot of people like it so maybe if you know what you're getting into beforehand, you'll still like it. Or it may annoy you more. Who knows?

message 12: by AH (new) - rated it 4 stars

AH Not my favorite genre but I'm going to give it a try because it fits the darn challenge.

message 13: by Lyndsey (last edited Jan 17, 2011 11:48AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyndsey Technically it's post-apocalyptic so I don't know if that will still work. If you really want a good one though, two of my favorite post-apocalyptic are The Road and Genesis.

message 14: by AH (new) - rated it 4 stars

AH Hmm, I've seen way too scary reviews of The Road. It doesn't look like I'd enjoy it.

message 15: by Lyndsey (last edited Jan 17, 2011 12:07PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyndsey Well Genesis is a really quick read so if you love it or hate it, at least you won't have to work too hard at it. Its only like 150 pages. It might work for you, since you aren't a big fan of the genre anyway.

message 16: by AH (new) - rated it 4 stars

AH Thanks, I'll look into it.

Lyndsey Yay! Hope you like it.

message 18: by Nicole (new) - added it

Nicole Wow, nice review! I've been looking forward to this book too, but now I think I'll be slightly disappointed if it doesn't have pictures!

Lyndsey Sadly, 'tis not a picture book. And even worse, there are absolutely no zombie kittens. That's why we have Google!

You know I couldn't resist.

Lyndsey Not at all! Zombie kitties are so lovable. And Huggle is one of my all time favorite words!!

This big guy promises not to eat your brains:

Lyndsey *falls over* Cough, cough. I think I have been affected...

message 22: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea Okay. That zombie survival can? Best thing EVER. Need it. Oh, and loved the review!

Lyndsey Turns out that is an actual energy drink that you can buy. Wicked, huh? They sell it on Amazon. It's a little pricey though considering you could probably do all the same stuff with any regular ol' can. For the use of throwing at zombies, you could even fit more pebbles in a regular soda can. And even more in one of those frikkin huge beer cans! But for awesomeness's sake, here it is:

Morgan F Hahaha, I agree with most of what you said in your funny review! Although I did rate it higher because I am going to marry Tom......


I thought I would add one more....

Lyndsey Omg, is that the cats tongue? Or is it a piece of that guys brain?

And if you are really going to marry one of the main characters.... You might be a little biased!!

Hahaha, even after all my griping, I'm still going to read the next one when it comes out. Just probably not right away. And I'll get it from the library. And I'll write a long ranting review on it, this time featuring........... Zombie Bunnies!


Morgan F EW KILL IT I adorable.

Lyndsey Hahhahhaha. I know!! It's so cute. Does Morgan want a visit from the "Eater" Bunny??? You know you do.

Morgan F I don't want any eggs that thing has to bring.

Lyndsey What if he brings you candy? It's completely untainted by the zombie virus, of course. You can take my word for it. I tried some. Tasted like BRAINS errr, caramel. Yum.

Morgan F Weeeeeeeeeell, I do like caramel.

Lyndsey Here you go! Don't be fooled by the diabolical packaging. They are perfectly healthy. *hehehe*

message 32: by Morgan (last edited Jan 18, 2011 02:42PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Morgan F I think you meant MUAHAHA.

Lyndsey Well considering the context of this statement. I think you meant "think" instead of "like". I get you, Morgan. I get you. I'm really starting to hone my telepathic Internet conversation skills.

Morgan F *doh*

I shall edit it.

Morgan F And yes, your skills are muy excelente.

Lyndsey Gracias, gracias. Fabuloso!! That's pretty much the extent of my espanol. Oh and "Donde esta el bano?"

Morgan F El bano esta en tus pantalones.

I'm in AP Spanish, so I should know more. But basically I know how to add "in your pants" to everything.

Lyndsey Ahahahhaha! That's awesome! Do you watch Craig Ferguson?? His robot sidekick Goeff Peterson says "in your pants" like every other second!!

Morgan F His robot and I would get along very well, but I'm afraid our conversation wouldn't evolve from:

"In your pants."
"No, in your pants."
"In your pants"

Lyndsey LMAO. That's pretty much how the conversations between Craig and his robot go... Recently, Geoff did learn a new favorite phrase though. "Jazz hands!!!"

Evelyn Great review!

Have you read The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell? It's a much, much better zombie story, with more on-screen action. When Benny first got the Lost Girl card for a moment I hoped it was a cameo appearance of Temple from The Reapers are the Angels.

Lyndsey I haven't read that yet but I've been wanting too! My library doesn't have a copy.

Man. Your profile pic made me want an apple. Thanks a lot! :-)

Ooooh. And peanut butter on apple slices. Yum.

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I see what you mean now. Aaaaand there goes my enthusiasm. :(

Lyndsey I think that if you are prepared for the preach and the cheese, you might be able to find some humor in it. The outlandishness of it all makes me laugh now, but not when I was expecting major zombie slayage.

Melissa Wehunt Everything you wrote were things I thought and felt....I wanted to write them all up in a kickass review...but I was too lazy for all that, so I'm glad you weren't!

message 46: by Johnny (new)

Johnny Great review. Have seen this book at the library for ages and always wanted to read it, but based off of your review it's totally different than what I thought...still trying to decided if that's a good or bad thing. And props by the way for the HIMYM reference :)

Jamie (The Title Page) I'm halfway through the second book, and it focuses a lot more on Gameland, as well as specific scenes inside the game pits. Might be something worth a read if you liked the idea but not the execution

Rachel The books get better as the series goes on, hope you stick with them

Jamie (The Title Page) Update: couldn't make it through the third book. It just got so repetitive and boring. I only suggest the sequels for diehard Rot and Ruin fans.

Lyndsey Okay thanks :-) I have the sequels and I'd like to read them just because I'm a huge fan of zombie fiction, but I'm not sure I can muster up the enthusiasm (or the attention span) to stick with it. :-/

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