Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry: Review
Posted by Tiffany at 11:18 AM

Title: Rot and Ruin
Author: Jonathan Maberry (site)
Published: October 5th, 2010 by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 458
Price: $11.99 Book Depository $12.23 Amazon 

Series: Benny Imura #1
Source: Bought
Rating: 3.5/5
Synopsis: In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human. (Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts: I was really excited about this book when it started popping up on Waiting on Wednesdays. I love post-apocalyptic stories, especially those involving zombies. It looked like it would be a very comic book-ish story about to brothers who hunt zombies.

Review: This book really surprised me. I was expecting gritty, action-filled zombie fighting action. What I got was an oddly sensitive, philosophical story about a hunter who believes that zombies should be treated with respect and his brother, who is (for most of the story) a very whiny, immature kid. Since this is a bit different from any other zombie books out right now, it took some adjustment. Once I switched gears and settled into the book, I really enjoyed it. The world that it was set in was fairly terrifying, but not for the usual reasons. There was more exploration of and focus on the crumbling of civilization and its effect on those who grew up Before, the zombies almost took a backseat to the evil that is mankind.

Every kid has to get a job in their mid-teens or lose their food rations. Benny Imura is trying to avoid apprenticing to his brother, who doesn't buy into the glamorous lifestyle of the other hunters, who tell gory and exciting stories about killing lots of zombies. His brother is very quiet and reserved about his hunting. Rumor has it that he's killed many more than the other hunters, but Benny doesn't believe it. A huge chunk of the story is the two brothers' struggle to come to terms with one another. This is a struggle because Benny is a selfish, short-sighted little punk. For the first half of the book, I really wanted to strangle Benny, the MC. The way he treated Nix and his stubborn refusal to believe anything good about his older brother was infuriating. However, once he got out into the real world and started learning more about his brother and the way he hunted, he began to grow up a bit. By the end of the novel, I rather liked him.

It took me a long time to figure out just what I thought about this book. I was expecting more of a horror movie zombie feel, but what I got was more of a Carrie Ryan For Boys feel. It had the same vibe, but without a lot of the emotional, romantic, girly stuff (which I LOVE, by the way). My first thought on putting the book down was, "My little brother is going to love this." In fact, I think that this would be a great book for guys, from middle grade to mid-teen. The relationships between him and his friends and the maturity of the MC for most of the book made this feel a bit too young for older readers, but maybe I'm underestimating the immaturity of teenage guys (haha).

Quick Review: Instead of the action packed, gritty adventure I was expecting, I got a thoughtful story (still full of action) about two brothers who have survived the zombie apocalypse, but lost each other in the process. There was plenty of adventure for the easily bored reader and plenty of character development for the reader seeking a story with depth. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have added it to my Good For Reluctant Readers, Especially Boys list.