Monday, November 1, 2010

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot & RuinI didn't want to read Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster). The cover is really icky and scary looking and yes, I do judge books by their covers. And sometimes, I am so wrong, because this was an awesome read.

Benny Imura (half Irish, half Japanese) can't remember a time when the world wasn't pretty much taken over by zombies. He blames his older half-brother, Tom, for saving him and leaving his parents to be zombified during the zombiepocalypse, so he really doesn't want to be his brother's apprentice and become a zombie bounty hunter. He changes his mind when he sees that Tom wants to change the world: Tom isn't motivated by money, but by helping families and zombies get closure in their undeath.

When Benny is collecting zombie trading cards, he gets one of The Lost Girl, an almost mythical figure who's been living on her own in the Rot and Ruin outside the small, enclosed safe town where Benny and Tom live. Wondering about her isn't safe, though, because it draws the attention of other bounty hunters who are rumored to take kids into the Rot and Ruin for the Z Games, where Christians vs. lions has become kids vs. zombies for the pleasure of men who know that outside of the rare safe town, there is no law. And it draws attention to Nix, Benny's friend who's just learning to fight. Can Benny and Tom save her? Can she save herself? Or are they all destined to die?

I've never been particularly interested in zombies, but Rot and Ruin brought a lot more to the table. It felt pitch-perfect as a teen book, because sure, it's about zombies--but really it's about waking to what the big conflicts in the world are and deciding what kind of person you want to be. Just without the "The more you know!" ad at the end.

I read this book as a first-round judge for the Cybils Awards, which   means that I  may have received a review copy from the publisher (or not; I own a lot of the books in this category). I  read  some books  nominated for the YA fantasy and science fiction  category  in 2010 before  the nomination period, and may have already  reviewed  them or declined  to make a public review; these books might  not have a  Cybils post tag.  As a first-round judge, I was tasked with  helping  create a shortlist of  books. My personal reviews do not  reflect any  actions or discussions of the  judging committee.


  1. I'm not a huge horror fan, but I definitely like me some dystopian and zombies seem to be a big part of the genre these days. This one sounds good. I'm going to have to get me a copy. Thanks for the rec!

  2. I think this worked for me because it was more about the dystopia than the zombies, or maybe because having zombies made sense in fitting with the underlying issues in the book. I'll be interested to see what you think!

  3. 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) and at least two more books beyond that (FLESH & BONE and FIRE & ASH).

  4. Thanks! I hope it gets more readers on board. I'll be looking forward to the sequels.


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