Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Review: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: September 2010
ISBN: 9781442402331
Source: Library

Rot & Ruin

Benny Imura is living in a world post-zombie-apocalypse.  After First Night fourteen years ago, people live in isolated, small fenced towns, ever in fear of the living dead just on the other side of the fence.  When Benny turns fifteen, he must apprentice to his older brother, a zombie hunter.  But when Tom first takes him out into the great Rot and Ruin, Benny just begins to understand what Tom really does and what those living dead that he's always feared are like.  Sucked into a battle Benny knows very little about, he and Tom must fight for every bit of humanity civilization still clings to.

Things I Liked:
This was a really interesting and thoughtful horror novel.  I admit I'm not a really big fan of zombie books and I avoid horror like the plague (ha).  But, I'd heard really good things about this one and it did not disappoint.  I was especially impressed with the compassionate way the zombies are portrayed.  It definitely reminded me of the (nearly only other) zombie books I've read - Carrie Ryan's Forest and Hands and Teeth series.  I thought Benny was a really well-written, strong character.  He acts just like we'd expect a fifteen-year-old punk to act now, though his environment is so different from ours.  Watching his transformation from jerk to thoughtful was so intriguing.  It felt just like what kids face today, minus the zombies.  Really smart and insightful.  And full of zombie action, of course.  A surprisingly meaningful read.  Here are some favorite parts:
Every dead person out there deserves respect.  Even in death.  Even when we fear them.  Even when we have to kill them.  They aren't 'just zoms,' Benny.  That's a side effect of a disease or from some kind of radiation or something else that we don't understand. p 62
On some level he'd always known that people avoided the Red Zone, but he'd always assumed that it was because they were afraid of zoms.  now he realized that they stayed on the far side of the line because in town, and away from the fence, it was easier to pretend that there was no wasteland of zombies outside.  p 250 

Things I Didn't Like:
I actually got annoyed a bit with some of the editing problems.  There were more than a handful of grammar errors, simple things really, that bugged me.  I'm not usually that aware of those, but for some reason, they stood out to me this time.  And I'm not really a fan of the zombie gore.  Ugh.  But, of course, it wasn't unexpected, considering.

Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen (ok, the only other zombie book I've read)

s-factor: !@#
regularly throughout, nothing too strong

mrg-factor: XX
teenage boys and their thoughts/talk 

v-factor: ->->->
definitely has some gore

Overall rating: ****

I might be open to some other zombie books, if you guys have some gentler suggestions :)

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. I didn't love this one, but I liked it well enough. The compassionate treatment of the zombies does set it apart from other similar stories, that's true.

    Um, I think Carrie Ryan's books are the best zombie ones out there. I liked THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin, too, although it's seriously long.

  2. I can't get over the creepy cover. If I decide to read it I'll get it at the library.

  3. Susan, I tried The Passage and simply couldn't do it. I can't remember exactly why, but I thought it was too long and had some really dull moments between the excitement.

    Jenny, definitely library worthy :)

  4. Best zombie book ever is The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell.

    It's relatively short, more of a coming of age story than zombie story, although zombies are part of the landscape, and the writing is achingly beautiful. One of the best books I read in 2010.

  5. Caitlin, thanks for the suggestion! It sounds like a good book - I'll add it to The List.


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