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One of Maberry's Worst. A Slow, Shambling, Dead Mess.
on June 30, 2011
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. There is a miraculously well-placed, impeccably-timed dynamite explosion that fails as well. We have a firecracker episode to draw zombies to an impenetrable fortress of cars. At any point in time, the baddies (all 8 or 10 of them) could have just stepped out of the woods or from behind cars and opened fire, killing our hero and his brother. Why didn't they? Because that would have ended the book. That they would expend the time and effort to concoct and plan these assasination episodes is foolish. They'd have just capped them and been done with it. There are many other "realities" introduced that are ridiculous, pointless dead ends. Religion is an easy target, but Maberry should have left it alone. The monks with their "children" are stupid as is the introduction (and subsequent abandonment) of technology as the cause of the plague among religious zealotry. Ugh.
I've got a problem starting a book and not finishing it. Call it a compulsion. Sometimes that's a burdensome yolk to bear as it was out there in the not-so-great Rot & Ruin.
Jan 2013 update: Stand by my review with the exception of being a Maberry fan. I read snarky, juvenile, embarrassing posts by Maberry right here on Amazon belittling reviewers opinions of his work. That someone with his (now lack of) credibility and stature would troll reviews and attack people who put money in his pocket is inexcusable. I deleted his books from my wish list and will not buy his work again. As an author, your readership is the only thing that enables you to do what you do. To attack them is foolish and ultimately detrimental to your bottom line. A far more appropriate response would have been to say, "Thank you for posting. I'm very sorry you didn't like this book. I hope you will try one of my other works. Cheers. JM." That I could have respected. Being a jerk to your fan base, I cannot. I'm done with you sir.