Customer Reviews: Rot & Ruin
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on September 11, 2010
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. ROT & RUIN is set in a time when people still remember what happened when the zombies started rising, so the reader gets some first-hand accounts of First Night (the night the world changed). ROT & RUIN also gives us some of the blood and gore that we sometimes want in a zombie novel.

Jonathan Maberry did an excellent job developing the characters and creating an interesting setting. The reader can get lost in Benny's world. ROT & RUIN gets the Gold Star Award because I couldn't put it down. In fact, I stayed up until 3:30 A.M. one night to finish. This story caused me to cringe, gasp, chuckle, and cry. Absolutely amazing!

Reviewed by: Karin Librarian
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on October 7, 2010
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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on September 20, 2010
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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on June 23, 2013
Maberry gives us the traditional out-for-blood zombie, but with a new perspective. They may be monsters, but at one point they were a person and somebody loved them. Maybe they deserve our respect. Set against this humane idea is the story of a boy and his older brother, the family business, and a girl who has been living among the undead her whole life. This book has so much heart, but plenty of gore and action. One of my favorite zombie novels (I also love Maberry's Patient Zero).
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on November 10, 2012
Several people that I really trust told me that I would love this book, and they were completely right. I've had this book on my to read list for a while. I was a little apprehensive because I have not been very impressed with any of the zombie YA books I've read. This includes the extremely hyped up "This Is Not a Test." Rot and Ruin, on the other hand, was intelligent, thoughtful, moving, and fast paced.

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry focuses on Benny Imura, who was orphaned after First Night, when the first zombie outbreak took place 14 years ago. He was rescued by his brother, Tom, who is a skilled Bounty Hunter. Benny doesn't think much of his brother and thinks him a coward. In the beginning of the book, Benny tries to find a job that fits him. In the end, he realizes that he is destined to follow in his brother's footsteps, and that his brother is more than he seems to be.

It is hard to compress this wonderful book into a synopsis without giving away its wonderful secrets. Let's just say that this book develops layer after layer, each one more intricate and thoughtful than the last. Maberry does a masterful job of world building. Zombies are more than just zombies-- the remaining humans have created a culture around them. All of their jobs, etc, have to do with living their lives free of zombies. Then there is the Rot and Ruin where the zombies roam free where Bounty Hunters are paid to put zombies down. Even that is treated with a reverence and thoughtfulness that I thought remarkable. The characters are many layered as well, as three dimensional as you get. Benny starts off as an annoying, bratty adolescent who then is confronted with darkness much scarier than the zombies and has to grow up too fast. Then there is Nix, who is a wonderful female counterpart. Tom, Benny's brother, may have been my favorite character and I may just have a little bit of a crush on him. And then another character is introduced that is incredibly intriguing, whom I think we will learn more about in future books.

I could go on and on about how wonderful this book is. Because it was so good, I'm worried that the next two books may not live up to the first. But you can be sure I'm picking them up. Overall, one of the best books I've read all year.
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on July 10, 2012
This was another awesome zombie adventure for me. Fast paced, thrilling, and very captivating. I found myself lost in a different world.

This story is about Benny, a 14year boy who has lived in a zombie infected world for as long as he can remember. He is now at an age where he has to find a job and contribute to his city. His older brother, Tom, is a zombie bounty hunter but Benny isn't sure if this is the path he wants to follow. While trying to find the right fit he discovers a hidden story about a lost girl. This story changes everything, the way he views zombies, feelings for his brother and his idols, and what he knows of the of the world he lives in.

Benny is a very strong character. Like most 14 year old boys, he thinks he knows all there is to know. He assumes the world he knows is exactly what it seems. There were many times that Benny made me mad, his thoughts on his brother and the ignorance that he chose to live by... but then I remember, he is only 14. When the time comes for him to grow up and fight like a man, he does. When it comes time to learn the truth, he listens. This is why I like Benny. But, my heart truly belongs to Tom!

Tom is Benny's older brother by quite a bit of years. I don't remember the book every going into exactly how old Tom is but it sounds like he was almost if not quite an adult when he had to run with Benny as a baby. Tom is quiet, sticks to himself, allowing others, including Benny to think the worst about it him. The truth, Tom is awesome, Tom has a huge heart, kicks butt, and lives by the only morals he feels are left in the world.

The story really follows Tom and Benny and their relationship along with the story about a lost girl. The book doesn't have one story. Benny has a lot of growing to do and I really enjoyed reading his story. The relationships in this book between all the characters were just phenomenal. The characters were all very easy to relate too and I found myself hanging on every word of their lives.

This book is one that stays with you long after you read it. It wasn't just another zombie book; it was a very emotional ride for me. This book really surprised me. I am hoping to be able to read the next installment ASAP!
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VINE VOICEon March 21, 2012
This 1960's song came to my mind while I was reading this book. And it is so appropriate! Brothers will always be brothers, even if they don't see eye to eye and family does not just mean blood relatives. You can carry and support and have the back of your brother (or sister), always.

Jonathan Maberry can tell a story like no other and he never ceases to amaze me with his writings. He can weave a story like "Patient Zero" with all the action, gore and tons of zombies that need to be killed and then he can tell a story such as "Rot & Ruin" and have you thinking about the humanity of a zombie and their still human family members. Rot & Ruins will have you thinking differently about zombies after you finish reading the book. He skillfully written story takes a different stance on zombies and the survivors of the "First Night" after things go wrong and people start re-animating.

But not only does Mr. Maberry get you thinking about the humanity of zombies but how civilization can easily want to forget what happened in the past and become complacent with their current life style, knowing that they think they are "safe" behind the fences of Mountainside. Are they really? Or are they willing to forget the past to stay safe in their surrounding community and in their minds? This book is not only about zombies but it is about helping others, closure, family and finding out the unknown and being brave enough to do something about it.

If I could give this book six stars, I would. It may be geared for young adults but the story is still exceptional no matter what genre it is geard to. Bravo Mr. Maberry!
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on January 28, 2012
Book Basics
Title: Rot and Ruin
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Published October 5th 2010 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Format Read: Purchased Paperback
Number of pages: 458

What made me keep turning the page?

Watching Benny figure out what life is all about
The deep lessons learned that are interwoven into the story
The mysteriousness of Tom and seeing him in a new light through Benny's eyes
The lyrical and descriptive story telling
Seeing Benny mature and develop more meaningful relationships
The nonstop action
Being able to see the past (our present time) through the eyes of the characters
The zombie creepiness

Some of My Favorite Quotes:

"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."
"Often it was the most unlikely people who found within themselves a spark of something greater. It was probably always there, but most people are never tested, and they go through their whole lives without ever knowing that when things are at their worst, they are at their best."
"There was a sliver of moon and a splash of stars, and the light outlined her face and glistened on the tears that ran like mercury down her cheeks."

Any complaints?



YA Science Fiction Fans/Zombie Fans

Final Thoughts...
So I thought this would be a gory, but fun, zombie story. It is a fun gory zombie book, but at the same time it is so much more than that! I had no idea that I would get so emotionally involved in this story! This book makes you think about how sometimes humans act more like monsters than monsters themselves. The author addresses topics like prejudice, bravery, compassion, pride, selflessness, guilt, and so much more, all while keeping you at the edge of your seat (and looking under your bed before you go to sleep). There was lots of action with just a touch of romance, which is how I like my science fiction! This is a first in a series, and I am about to devour the next book Dust and Decay!
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on October 5, 2010
Rot & Ruin. Wasteland. Where the zombies roam the environs of a ravaged and forgotten country.

It's been about fourteen years since First Night when the dead rose. Game Over. Instead of millions, now there are only a few thousand survivors left scattered in encampments. Surviving as best they can. Combating the constant threat of the undead at their doorstep. This is the age in which Benny Imura lives in. And its not as if he likes it.

In the protected enclave of Mountainside, the kids hear one thing behind their protective walls. And another of what is really happening outside. The survivors have little to do with what is outside their walls. They hire a zombie hunter like Benny's brother Tom to "quiet" their relatives who have succumbed to the contagion and who wander the deserts aimlessly. They are reassured that their loved ones are finally put to rest. But not all the hunters have Tom's ethics or morality-or his humanity.

In fact, for zombie hunters like Charlie Pink-eye and Motor City Hammer, the dead have become a profitable business-and vicious entertainment. Deep within the mountainous wastes of the Ruin hides a place only whispered about: Gameland. The last stop. Where humans go head-to-head with zombies. And one very tricky girl, The Lost Girl, whose fate was born during First Night is the only human who managed to escape the games-and survive intact.

When Benny's brother crosses Charlie Pink-eye for the last time, the disturbing truth of what happens outside the walls will come straight to Mountainside's doorstep. It will lead Benny and Tom on a bloody journey to rescue Nix and others from the grisly fate of Gameland-to confront and deal with the zombie hunters once and for all. On their quest they will scour the desert to find the only one who survived the zombie games: The Lost Girl. With her help, they might actually be able rid the Ruin of its pestilence for good.

Rot & Ruin was thrilling triumph, full of action, gripping conflict, soul-fullness, gore, solemnity, and hope. It is a coming of age piece honed in the ashes of apocalypse. And throughout, page after page it makes you feel slightly discombobulated and indecisive.

Do the survivors embrace or spurn them-these remnants of humanity? Are they theirs to hunt, to maim, to pulverize in the dust to atone for the contagion that took the world away? Will ceaseless vengeance wreak a perpetual cycle stealing the last vestiges of humanity left to those who survived?

Maberry poses these troubling questions pausing on that elemental "?" Who are the real zombies? Is it us or them? It forever alters our view and forges a new perception of what exactly a zombie novel should be: fragmented beauty, scattered hope, humane, bittersweet. Tom and Benny's journey in the Ruin is much more than a rescue mission. It is potential salvation-for all the survivors that are courageous enough to finally brave the walls and step onto the path less traveled. Perhaps into a new future. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.

For readers that liked The Big Empty series by J.B. Stephens, Rot & Ruin will appeal as well as to fans of The Passage and The Reapers Are the Angels.

A Fiendishly Bookish Review
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Well, it's been 14 years since the dead started coming back to life. Benny Imura is 15 years old and now must earn his way in the world. His older brother, Tom, is a zombie killer but Benny doesn't think too much of Tom - he thinks he's a coward.

"Rot and Ruin" tells the story of how Benny decides to join in the "family" business with Tom and the beginning of the days that follow.

I loved this book. For one thing, from the minute I picked it up, it helped me remember why I LOVE books - hard copy books that you can hold in your hand. Don't get me wrong - I have a Kindle with LOTS of books on it. But "Rot and Ruin" is a FUN book. The cover design, endpapers, and actual book design are what makes reading a hard copy book fun (besides a great story, that is). Just superb!

And the story itself is rip roaring fun. Great characters and character development. Great chase scenes. The good guys are good and vice versa. Strong female characters.

And the best thing - the next in the series Dust & Decay is coming out soon (August 2011) with at least two more to follow, per the author -"Flesh and Bone" and "Fire and Ash."
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