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Rot & Ruin Paperback – May 3, 2011
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I have read a LOT of semi pro zombie series that have thousands of very high ratings that are incredibly marginal books. This is not one of those.
The character's emotions and actions are believable. No crazy coincidences, stupid luck etc to get people in or out of trouble.
An example of a series with a large popular folloing is zombie fallout. I gave up reading zombie fallout to book 4. That series was absolutely horrible (unless you like juvenile comedy fart jokes which many do - like deadpool).
This series is a serious book, well written, with characters that are consistent and have a good backstory. There is even some moderately sophisticated philosophy going on as well.
I would put it in the same league as books like the dust/wool series, day by day armageddon, forest of teeth and hands and the remaining as far as being engaging and enjoyable to read.
Benny and Tom live in a community that has a law that when you turn 15 you have a short time to get a job or your rations will be cut. So Benny tried many jobs and quits or gets fired from them all. He really has had a protected life inside the walled in community and he would rather just hang out with his friends.
But finally he has to do what he has resisted and he goes to his older brother Tom and asks him if he will take him on as an apprentice in his job. Benny believes Tom is a Bounty Hunter who kills "zoms" and who ran away taking baby Benny with him on First Night when the zoms attacked their mom and dad. He believes Tom is a coward and has no respect for him.
But when Tom takes him out beyond the walls into the rot and ruin and shows Benny what he does, Benny realizes things are not as he thought. Nor are they as easy as he thought. In fact the very men he looked up to and thought were brave zombie killers were really the evil ones.
This is a story of a boy, Benny Imura, who grows up very quickly while with his older brother Tom out in the rot and ruin. His whole world changes as it does when we grow up and lose our innocence. He loses his very quickly and shockingly as he finds a world very different from the one he has believed existed all his life.
I am so glad I stuck with this story this time and have already begun Dust and Decay. The good news is all the books in this series are completed and ready to immerse yourself in. As i have.
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!
I'm looking forward to reading Dust & Decay.