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Rot & Ruin Hardcover – September 14, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–At first glance, this appears to be a retelling of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Delacorte, 2009) but with a male protagonist. But Maberry's vision of a zombie-infested future has more action, more violence, and more emotional depth. Benny Imura was a baby when the zombie apocalypse happened. His first memory is of his mother handing him to his older half brother as she is being dragged down by his zombie-fied father. He resents Tom for leaving his mother, for running away. To Benny, Tom is a coward. To everyone else in their fenced-in town, Tom is the toughest, bravest zombie killer in California. As Benny approaches his 15th birthday, he must find a job or forfeit half of his food rations. After losing half a dozen jobs, he reluctantly agrees to work as Tom's apprentice in the “Family Business.” When they travel out into the Rot and Ruin, he witnesses things that change his opinion of his brother and forever alter his perception of the world. He also learns that flesh-eating zombies aren't the scariest or most dangerous monsters around. As with all zombie stories, this one requires a fairly large suspension of disbelief, but once the brothers enter the Rot and Ruin, readers become too wrapped up in the plot to dwell on some lapses of logic. The relationship between Benny and Tom becomes surprisingly complex and satisfying, as does the romantic subplot between Benny and his friend Nix. The length of the book may intimidate some reluctant readers but the striking cover, compelling action, and brutal violence will draw them in and keep them reading.–Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CAα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

It’s been 14 years since First Night, when the dead came back to life. Six billion people have died (and reanimated) since then, and America has collapsed into isolated communities living within the great “Rot and Ruin.” Benny is 15, which means it’s time to get a job or face cut rations, but his general laziness leaves him with only one employment option: join his stuffy, sword-swinging, Japanese half-brother, Tom, as an apprentice bounty hunter. This means heading beyond the gates to slice and dice “zoms,” but Benny quickly begins to see the undead in a new light—as well as realizing that Tom is much more than he ever let on. The plot is driven by an evil bounty-hunter rival and the cruel games he plays, but Maberry has more than gore on his mind. The chief emotion here is sadness, and the book plays out like an extended elegy for a lost world. Tom’s a bit too perfect and his pontification too extended, but this is nevertheless an impressive mix of meaning and mayhem. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Series: Rot & Ruin (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442402326
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442402324
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (332 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author, anthology editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. He was named one of the Today's Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than two-dozen countries.

He writes in several genres. His young adult fiction includes ROT & RUIN (2011; now in development for film; named in Booklist's Ten Best Horror Novels for Young Adults, an American Library Association Top Pick, a Bram Stoker and Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading winner; winner of several state Teen Book Awards including the Cricket, Nutmeg and MASL; winner of the Cybils Award, the Eva Perry Mock Printz medal, Dead Letter Best Novel Award, and four Melinda Awards); DUST & DECAY (winner of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award; FLESH & BONE (winner of the Bram Stoker Award; 2012; and FIRE & ASH (August 2013). His thrillers include The Joe Ledger Thrillers from St. Martin's Griffin (PATIENT ZERO, 2009, winner of the Black Quill and a Bram Stoker Award finalist for Best Novel; EXTINCTION MACHINE, (2013; now in development for TV by Lonetree Entertainment and Vintage Picture Company); PREDATOR ONE, 2015, and others. His first middle grade novel, THE NIGHTSIDERS BOOK 1: THE ORPHAN ARMY, debuted in 2015 from Simon & Schuster.

His horror novels include The Pine Deep Trilogy from Pinnacle Books (GHOST ROAD BLUES, 2006, winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and named one of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium; DEAD MAN'S SONG, 2007; and BAD MOON RISING, 2008), as well as DEAD OF NIGHT, 2011 (named one of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium) and its forthcoming sequel, FALL OF NIGHT, 2014. He also wrote the movie novelization, THE WOLFMAN, 2010, winner of the Scribe Award for Best Adaptation; and DEADLANDS: GHOSTWALKERS, an original novel inspired by the million-copy-selling role-playing game. He has also written the foreword to a new annotated edition of DRACULA from Writers Digest Books.

Jonathan is the creator, editor and co-author of V-WARS, a shared-world vampire anthology from IDW, and its sequels, V-WARS: BLOOD AND FIRE, V-WARS: NIGHT TERRORS, V-WARS: SHOCKWAVES, V-WARS: INFERNO. And he writes a best-selling monthly V-WARS comic. A board game version of V-Wars will be released in late 2015; and the series is in development for TV by IDW Media.

He is also the editor of the dark fantasy anthology series, OUT OF TUNE (JournalStone, 2014), a series of X-FILES anthologies launching in 2015, and SCARY OUT THERE, an anthology of horror for teens.

Jonathan was an expert on the History Channel documentary, ZOMBIES: A Living History. He will also be featured in That $#(!'ll Rot Your Brain: How the Monster Kids Transformed Popular Culture, a forthcoming documentary on horror movies directed by Robert Tinnell. And he was participated in the commentary tracks for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED. He recently filmed segments for six installments of a forthcoming H2 series on monsters in mythology and pop culture.

His many nonfiction works include VAMPIRE UNIVERSE (Citadel Press, 2006); THE CRYPTOPEDIA (Citadel, 2007 -winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction; co-authored by David F. Kramer); ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead (Winner of the Hinzman and Black Quill Awards and finalist for a Stoker Award; 2008); THEY BITE! (2009 co-authored by David F. Kramer); WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE (2010; Bram Stoker finalist; co-authored by Janice Gable Bashman); THE VAMPIRE SLAYERS FIELD GUIDE TO THE UNDEAD (2001, written under the pen name of Shane MacDougall); ULTIMATE JUJUTSU (Strider Nolan, 2001); ULTIMATE SPARRING (Strider Nolan, 2000); JUDO AND YOU (Kendall Hunt 1991); and many others.

He writes a variety of projects for various top comic book companies. His work for Marvel Comics included CAPTAIN AMERICA: HAIL HYDRA, BLACK PANTHER: POWER, DOOMWAR, WOLVERINE: FLIES TO A SPIDER, PUNISHER: NAKED KILLS, the NY Times bestselling MARVEL ZOMBIES RETURN; as well as his own franchise within Marvel --MARVEL UNIVERSE vs THE PUNISHER, MARVEL UNIVERSE vs WOLVERINE and MARVEL UNIVERSE vs THE AVENGERS. He wrote the vampire miniseries BAD BLOOD for Dark Horse, which won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Graphic Novel in 2015; V-WARS and ROT & RUIN for IDW based on his bestselling novels. Adaptations of his short stories have appeared in EVIL JESTER COMICS and GRAVE CONDITIONS. All of Jonathan's comic book collections are released as Graphic Novel collections within a month or two of individual comic publication.

Jonathan has published several dozen short stories in a variety of genres: mystery, horror, thriller, science fiction, military fiction, fantasy, western, urban fantasy, humor and others. His collections include JOE LEDGER: THE MISSING FILES, 2011 from Blackstone Audio; HUNGRY TALES (2012) and TALES FROM THE FIRE ZONE (2012) and the forthcoming JOE LEDGER: SPECIAL OPS (2014, JournalStone), DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN and STRANGE WORLDS (Blackstone, 2015). His work also appears in the audio anthology LIAR LIAR from The Liars Club (released by Blackstone Audio in 2013).

Jonathan is the co-creator (with Laura Schrock) of ON THE SLAB, an entertainment news show in development by Stage 9 for ABC Disney / Stage 9. He was also a 'blog correspondent' on Sony's zombie-themed web show 'WOKE UP DEAD'; and was a recurring character on Laura Schrock's 'IT'S TODD'S SHOW'.

Jonathan's popular Big Scary Blog (www.jonathanmaberry.com) focused on the publishing industry. Jonathan's interviews include Sandra Brown, Gayle Lynds, Alafair Burke, Charlaine Harris, James Rollins, Harlan Coben, Jeff Abbott, John Saul, Jonathan Kellerman, Barry Eisler, CJ Box, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jack Ketchum, Tom Piccarilli, Dale Brown, Kevin J. Anderson, Joe Lansdale, Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell, Carrie Ryan, and many other best-selling authors. Jonathan also writes the SCARY OUT THERE blog, through which he and his guests explore teen horror fiction in its many aspects. Current and upcoming guests include R.L. Stine, Holly Black, Libba Bray, Nancy Holder, Kim Harrison, Ellen Hopkins and many others. That blog can be found on the website of the Horror Writers Association: http://www.horror.org/yahorror/?p=280.

He is one third of the hirsute pop-culture podcast THREE GUYS WITH BEARDS, along with Christopher Golden and James A. Moore.

He is a frequent keynote speaker, guest of honor and workshop leader at genre cons, libraries, writers conferences and publishing industry events, including the Writers Digest Conference, American Library Association, KeyCon, American Library Association, ThrillerFest, Zombie Fest, Heather Graham's Writers for New Orleans, Central Coast Writers Conference, NeCon, NY Comic Con, Texas Library Association Annual Conference, Sisters in Crime, Context, New York Comic Con, Dallas-Fort Worth Writers Conference, Tucson Festival of Books, Long Beach Comic Con, BackSpace, PennWriters, Dragon*Con, PhilCon, Horror-Realm, Boucher Con, HorrorFind, Monster Mania, Philadelphia Writers Conference, Balticon, Romance Writers of America, American Library Association, ZenKaiKon,The Write Stuff, Hypericon, AnthoCon, KillerCon, NAIBA, LunaCon, and many others.

Jonathan has sold more than 1,200 feature articles and 3,000 columns; as well as greeting cards, song lyrics, poetry, technical manuals, call-floor scripts, and two plays, including Tales from the Fire Zone.

Jonathan is a Contributing Editor for The Big Thrill (the newsletter of the International Thriller Writers), and is a member of SFWA, IAMTW, MWA, SCBWI, SFWA and HWA, as well as a jurist for the Edgar, Stoker, and Scribe Awards.

Jonathan was the Executive Director of the Writers Room of Bucks County (2005-06) and co-owner of the Writers Corner USA (2006-2009). Jonathan regularly visits local middle schools, high schools and colleges to talk about books, reading, publishing and the writing life. He is a board member of the River Union Stage, a professional equity theater based in Stockton, New Jersey. In 2006 he helped found the Wild River Review, an notable online literary journal.

Jonathan is a founding member of The Liars Club, a group of networking publishing professionals that includes celebrated authors Merry Jones, Gregory Frost, Jon McGoran, Ed Pettit, Dennis Tafoya, Keith Strunk, Don Lafferty, Kelly Simmons, Marie Lamba, Solomon Jones, Stephen Susco, Chuck Wendig, Janice Gable Bashman, Cordelia Biddle, Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, Scott Sigler, Amber Benson, Kathryn Craft, Jeff Marriott, Nancy Holder and Michael Boatman. The Liars Club works to support booksellers, raise awareness and support for public libraries, and cultivate a joy of reading and books. The late NY Times bestseller L. A. Banks was a founding member of the Liars Club.

Jonathan created the Writers Coffeehouse, a free three-hour open-agenda networking and discussion session for writers of all genres and levels of skill in multiple locations around the country each month.

Jonathan has been a popular writing teacher and career counselor for writers for the last two decades. He teaches a highly regard series of classes and workshops including Write Your Novel in Nine Months, Act Like a Writer, Revise & Sell, Experimental Writing for Teens, and others. Many of his students have gone on to obtain representation and/or publish in short and novel-length fiction, magazine feature writing, nonfiction books, TV, film, and comics.

In 2004 Jonathan was inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame largely because of his extensive writings in that field. He is the former Expert Witness for the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office for murder cases involving martial arts; and he's done extensive work for civil cases.

Jonathan and his wife, Sara Jo, to whom he dedicates all of his published works, and their dog, Rosie, live in Del Mar, California.

Visit his website/blog and sign up for his free newsletter at www.jonathanmaberry.com
www.facebook.com/jonathanmaberry, www.twitter.com/jonathanmaberry

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on September 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Gold Star Award Winner!

Benny just turned fifteen. In his world, that means he must find a job in order to continue receiving his rations. The problem is, Benny can't find a job he likes. He and his best friend, Chong, waited too long to get one and all the easy jobs are gone. What's left isn't very appealing. He's tried being a locksmith, a fence tester, a fence technician, a carpet coat salesman, a pit thrower, a crank generator repairman, a spotter, a bottler, and an erosion artist. It seems like the only option left is to join the family business.

Benny's brother, Tom, is one of the most respected and successful zombie killers. The problem is, Benny doesn't know why people think Tom's that great. He's never seen Tom do anything especially exciting or impressive - in fact, he's actually turned away from violence, which makes Benny think Tom's a coward. Tom is nothing like the totally cool Zombie Killers like Charlie Pink-Eye and Motor City Hammer. Benny has never intended to do what Tom does. He's always said no every time Tom asked him to become his apprentice. But, his lack of success in any other job has left him no choice.

Benny learns a lot while out in the Rot & Ruin with Tom. He learns about his own past, what it is that Tom really does, and what separates man from monster. Benny's outlook on life completely changes as he begins to realize there might be more to life than just his small town of Mountainside.

ROT & RUIN is a perfect choice for readers who enjoyed THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. Both books take place in a small town of survivors surrounded by fences that keep the zombies out.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ron Edison on October 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you only read one zombie novel this year, this should be the one. Horror, adventure, romance, something to think about (not to mention the zoms) are shaken, stirred and blended into what may be Jonathan Maberry's best novel to date. It's YA, but as gruesome, brutal and thrilling as any contemporary adult genre novel. Exquisite narrative and dialogue with a set of memorable heroes and villains kept me turning the pages, and the conclusion is pointed at a sequel. Should appeal to fans of recent hits like The Enemy (Higson), The Hunger Games (Collins), and more serious zombie fiction by David Wellington and Brian Keene.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Pam van Hylckama Vlieg on September 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I picked Rot and Ruin up at Book Expo America back in May. I read it in August and feel absolutely in love with Maberry's story telling. We follow Benny through his coming of age in a post apocalyptic setting filled with `Zoms'. Benny despises his older brother Tom who is not as cool as the other zombie hunters like Charlie. He is in Benny's eyes weak, after all he left his parents and ran with Benny on First Night instead of saving the whole family.

Benny has it pretty good in his town, he is fed, he doesn't have to see any zombies and although he wants to learn about killing the zoms and is quite bloodthirsty for some action his gym coach tells him to talk to Tom that killing is something you should learn at home. Being fifteen means Benny has to get a job or go to half rations and pretty much starve to death. We watch Benny and his friends as they work for a day at several of the available jobs. While his friends find placement Benny can't find that perfect job so he takes Tom up on his offer of apprenticeship to zombie hunt.

With First Night being recent past history people hire the zombie hunters to put their infected family members to rest when they are past the point of grieving and want to do the right thing about them. Tom shows us that while it is easy to hate zombies that they were once regular people too.

Rot and Ruin has a great dystopic vibe. Technology and electricity and all our creature comforts are still there but survivors of First Night are too afraid to use them. They blame technology for the fall of society. The book also challenges social issues, is it okay to torture the zombies for fun?

If you are a fan of Carrie Ryan, George Romero or Mira Grant you will love Rot and Ruin. Jonathan Maberry is the author of Patient Zero as well.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Child King on June 30, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm seldom the voice of dissention when it comes to Maberry books because I'm a huge fan. After reading Rot & Ruin, it's difficult to believe that the bloated, overly-postulating, aimlessly meandering composition therein could possibly come from the man who penned the Pine Deep trilogy or Patient Zero. If there is credit to be offered here, it is in the fairly unique tack of making zombies the object of sympathy instead of scrutiny. Envisioning a world where family members would want their zombie loved ones "quieted" by a tender bounty hunter was promising. Sadly, R&R just couldn't deliver. The prose and much of the dialogue are rudimentary at best. Through the book, it was obvious that Maberry himself knew a lot of what he was writing was gobbledygook because he would postulate through Tom a question, then Benny would reply, "But that's stupid." Tom would nod and the reader would be left thinking, "Yep, pretty stupid, and thanks for not trying to make a coherent argument for why that is because we wouldn't believe that either." If it was just the prose and ridiculous arguments, I might have given R&R a pass, but the fact that this is essentially a road novel, with obvious protagonists that are utterly foolish cardboard caricatures, backstory that is uninspired and so many ridiculous, cliched plot elements, I just can't recommend it. One thread will make my point, (PLOT ELEMENTS BEYOND)you should not read further if you don't want any revelations. When Benny and Tom become the object of Crazy and Hammer's wrath (jeez even the names are horrible cliches), instead of just putting bullets in them, the villains begin comprising elaborate scenarios to dispose of them. We have the torturing and killing of a townsman that is then placed outside B&T's door as a trap.Read more ›
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