Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Rot &Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

There are a lot of things Benny Imura doesn't know. On the cusp of his 15th birthday, Benny doesn't know what field of work he should pick, how to deal with his strange feelings towards his childhood friend Nix, who is on the cusp of adulthood herself, or why a photo of a young girl on a card is affecting him so deeply. One certainty in Benny's world though is his belief that his stepbrother Tom is a coward.  A coward who let their mother die. Forced to make the one decision he never thought he would, Benny becomes an apprentice to Tom. His path will now be the family business:
 Bounty Hunting .
As Benny leaves the fenced in city of Mountainside for the wilds of Rot & Ruin he encounters people and situations that rip his core beliefs to threads, and place him on the journey from Child to Man.
This book is nothing I expected and contains everything that I love about YA books. I've been a fan of Maberry's since I read his novel Patient Zero. When I heard he was working on a YA novel I was really excited and this book doesn't disappoint.
Did I mention there were zombies in the book? Maberry places zombies and the aftermath of the zombie outbreak : First Night in a very unique light. It has been almost 15 years since first Night when the zombie outbreak began. Not only are the citizens enclosed physically in Mountainside but also there thoughts and actions. Despite the possibility no one in town attempts to use electricity. Instead they rely on hand cranked generators for water pressure. There is a decided here and out there mentality. The town relies on traders to bring food, strict rationing to keep everyone fed and Bounty Hunters. The hunters jobs are quite unique. They get paid ration dollars for proofs of their zombie kills yet the townspeople have no desire to expand their town or even take back one inch of The Rot &Ruin. This makes the Ruin a veritable wilderness where the wrong element can thrive without any fear of retribution. The only bridge between the town and the zombie element are the Bounty Hunter's.
Tom is a well respected Hunter by all except Benny. Tom handles his duties with a respect and reverence that very few hunters aspire to. People quietly hire Tom to Quiet their relatives.  I really loved Tom! He encapsulates all the wonderful qualities of a hero. He has a quiet dignity and hidden strength that unfolds through out the story. Oh yeah he's also super cute and carries a sword!
I had such a strong emotional reaction to Benny in this story. Maberry truly captures the feeling of youth all its bravado and fear. As an adult It made me remember my teen days. Those times when we are so sure we know what the world is. As Benny walks through the Rot &Ruin with Tom his feelings towards his brother intensify. His anger and sarcasm  initially block his perceptions but as time goes on he sees his brother in a different light and begins to understands the choices Tom has made in his life and what the cost of those choices entail.
I also enjoyed the female characters in the book Nix and the "Lost Girl". Two strong leads and romantic potentials for Benny.
OK. If you haven't read Jonathan's work before let me tell you that he can "bring it" when it comes to Zombie action, chills and thrills. In this book though it's such a different feel. Yes there are dangerous and thrilling scenes but there is also a huge focus on the humanity of these creatures and a definite sympathy. Yet that somehow makes it even more terrifying in some cases.
Amazing book! There is a significant detail to character development and world building that transitions to great action and a satisfying ending that leave space for future books.




Cheree said...

Thanks for the great review. I've been looking forward to reading this. I just have to find the time. It really sounds interesting.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that terrific and insightful review!

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: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Rot-Ruin/Jonathan-Maberry/9781442402324

Benny Imura and his friends will return in DUST & DECAY (summer, 2011) and at least two more books beyond that (FLESH & BONE and FIRE & ASH).

Hope you stick around for the rest of Benny's journey!

-Jonathan Maberry


thanks for your comments guys, I'm so glad to hear there are more books planned Jonathan! Im excited!