Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry

Published: October 2010
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Copy provided by: Library
# pages: 458
Summary: Goodreads

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

Ok, what can I tell you about this book? It's about Zombies - and SO much more. I loved this book! Could not get enough of it, and at 458 pages it is not a short book. It was amazing. One of the best I have read this year, if not the best. I can hear you saying to yourselves - Is she crazy, this is a zombie book! - please, please, don't let that stop you from reading 'Rot and Ruin'. Yes the 'zoms' are the whole reason for the book, but at the same time they are such a small part of it.

This is a coming of age story in the best way. It's a story about realising that things you've believed your whole life are not true. It's about finding the courage to take chances and become a better person - about looking past the obvious and seeing what's real. It's about good versus evil, love and hate, courage, compassion (yes, for zombies!), family, hardship and strength - strength of character and strength of will. There is so much more going on in this story than you could ever imagine. So much so that I'm adding our ISU tag - coming of age in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future - guys this one's for you.

The main protagonist - Benny Imura - is well written and his journey from naive 15 yr old to zombie killer is almost heart-breaking. There is sadness in this book, but also hope. It even made me cry (yes I know, I'm a dweeb)! I found so many passages I would love to quote, but I think this is one of my favourites.

'"Benny, I---," she began, but before she could say anything more, he bent forward and kissed her. It was the wrong time, the wrong place, the wrong circumstances. There was nothing right in their whole world. Except that kiss.'

The story about Benny, his brother Tom, Nix and Lilah is a marvellous one. I felt as if I was there with them, in all the horror and despair. I hope many of you will pick this up and give it a try, even if you're not a zombie fan. You will be missing a lot if you don't.

'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.'

After some investigation, I discovered that Rot and Ruin is the first in a series. Not quite sure how I feel about that, but I have no doubt I'll be first in line to read the next one. While investigating I came across an interesting post on Jonathan Mayberry's website. Click if you'd like to read the whole thing. Below is a rather interesting reply to the question: Why should readers (and their parents) NOT be afraid of YA zombies?

JONATHAN MABERRY: Zombie novels aren’t like video games. It’s not a race to see how many you can kill or how much damage you can accomplish. Zombie novels, especially for the YA market, are about life and living, about becoming strong enough to life in our often dangerous and complex world, about creating and maintaining relationships, and about learning the value of life. Yes, there are monsters. There are monsters all through literature –the Cyclops in THE ODYSSEY, the great white whale in MOBY DICK, the stitched-together creature in FRANKSTEIN and the human monster child-killer in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. As with those stories, the point isn’t to indulge in horror or cultivate paranoia; the point is show how people –no matter the age—can survive and flourish no matter what comes shambling after them…on the page or in the real world!

On a final note I felt as if there had to be something about Rot and Ruin that I didn't like, and after much thought, I finally came up with something - it ended!


  1. Thanks for the great review! Delighted that you decided to brave the world of zombies and join Benny and his friends on their first adventure.

    There are thirteen pages of free prequel scenes for ROT & RUIN available on the Simon & Schuster webpage for the book. Here’s a link to the main page; access the scenes by clicking on the banner that reads: READ BONUS MATERIAL BY JONATHAN MABERRY:

    Benny Imura and his friends will return in DUST & DECAY (summer, 2011)

    Jonathan Maberry

  2. Great review--I love your enthusiasm for the book! I've read a couple of great zombie books lately, too and I think I'll have to move R&R to the top of my TBR list (those creepy eyes have been staring at me for a while...)

    The Book Swarm

  3. I just finished this one and really enjoyed it, too. Not as much as you did, but it's definitely a fun read. Your enthusiasm really is addicting :)

  4. I downloaded a sample of this book to my Kindle and loved it so much I purchased the book. I can't wait to finish it! It reminds me of The Walking Dead on AMC which is so much more than zombies, too. Great review :)