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Rot & Ruin Hardcover – September 14, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 368 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Rot & Ruin Series

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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 (368 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #553,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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