03 January 2013

Review: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura #1) by Jonathan Maberry

Published: 14 September 2010 by Simon & Schuster


Pages: 458 (hardcover)


Genre/s: Young Adult, Zombie


Source: Own Library


Synopsis


Nearly fourteen years ago, a freak virus swept across the world turning the living into the undead. Benny Imura was only a toddler, but his last memory of his parents is tainted by the image of them becoming zombies, and he blames his older brother, Tom, for not saving them.

Now Benny is fifteen, and Tom wants them to put their difficult relationship behind them and work together in the “family business”: as zombie killers. It’s the last thing Benny wants to do, but he needs a job and he thinks it’ll be an easy ride.

But when they head into the Rot and Ruin, an area full of wandering zombies, Benny soon realises that there’s more to the job than just whacking zombies. And, as he’s confronted with the truth about the world around him Benny makes the most terrifying discovery of all, that the worst monsters you can imagine might actually be human ...


My Thoughts



I'm sure everyone knows what I'm talking about when I say that reading a new book by one of your favourite authors is kinda nerve-racking.  You're excited because it's a NEW BOOK but you're also scared because, well, what if you don't like it?  This was exactly how I felt about Rot & Ruin.  After all, Jonathan Maberry's Patient Zero was one of the very first zombie books I read, and Dead of Night was one of my favourite books of 2011 - what if I didn't like Rot & Ruin?

The very first thing that struck me about Rot & Ruin was that I didn't really like Benny - whiny and ungrateful and more than a little bit of a spoilt brat.  BUT as the book progressed, he changed quite a lot, and by the end I actually did like him quite a bit and I love when a character grows and matures during the course of a book.  His older brother Tom is far more likable, with a quiet confidence and sense of right and wrong. 

By far my favourite characters in Rot & Ruin were Nix and Lilah - strong and determined female characters are something often missing in zombie books, but Jonathan Maberry can definitely write a good female character.

The world of Mountainside and the Rot & Ruin were infinitely fascinating.  The town itself is a mixture of frontier town with bounty hunters and a small village with people going about their daily lives and trying to make the best of a crappy situation. 

The Zombies themselves are the standard brain-eaters, but Maberry explores some very interesting ideas both of the characteristics of the zombies (zombies would apparently go downhill by habit as it's easier for them to follow a downhill slope than go uphill - may be an important point during the zombie apocalypse!) and the way that the survivors react to them.  Although they are pretty much mindless eating machines, they are still viewed as people, in as much as they can be, and the survivors are incredibly respectful, right down to employing people specifically to end their loved ones' suffering.

The villains are magnificently villainous, especially Charlie - ugh how I loved to hate him.  Along with his gang of thugs, he made for a truly despicable, evil character and I couldn’t wait to see him get his just deserts.

The final and most moving scene, between Benny and Tom was incredibly bittersweet, and also really showed how their relationship had changed during the story.

I had a rocky start with Rot & Ruin, but by the end I could completely see where Mr. Maberry was going with the characters, the plot and the world-building and I can’t wait to see what happens in Dust & Decay. 



15 comments:

  1. I just bought myself a copy of this one as an early birthday present to myself, so I'm really pleased to see you enjoyed it! I'll definitely have to check out Patient Zero and Dead of Night too - I can never get enough zombie books! I'm looking forward to seeing how Maberry portrays zombies too, from the sounds of things, he does it very well. Great review!

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    1. Dead of Night was one of my favourites of 2011 - Jonathan Maberry writes such great characters, as well as unique zombie twists.

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  2. So I haven't read anything by Maberry yet but I have Rot & Ruin and Patient Zero high on my list. Of the two, which would you recommend starting out with?

    I do think it's really cool that Benny had such a majour character arc in the book and you went from loathing to liking him. It makes all of that torment seem so worth while, doesn't it?

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    1. I don't think we can be friends anymore.....just kidding ;-)

      I actually think you'd like both R&R and PZ - PZ is more grown up action, R&R has some fabulously unique takes on zombies. Dead of Night is another one that I highly, highly recommend.

      Having that arc really made the book come alive for me, the more I read, the more I liked Benny, and I think he's going to become an awesome main character in the rest of the series.

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    2. Haha, I guess I just need to rectify this situation and pick up all 3 recommendations then!

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  3. Read and loved all three books in the series so far...

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  4. I only need one word: zombies :D and alright, the fact that you loved to hate the villian and the character development also make me want to read this book. I have had this one on my list for a while now, but I think I will be using it for my reading challenges!

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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    1. It had everything I love about zombie books, and there's some interesting ideas about zombies too!

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  5. This series just keeps getting better and better IMO. I'm sure you'll enjoy the others just as much as this one.

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    1. Good to know! Not long until the fourth one comes out so I need to get a wriggle on!

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  6. I really need to read this one still! Great review, Kat. :D

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    1. I think you'd really enjoy it - it's got lots of great things going for it!

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  7. Oh, for sure, I'm often scared to read a new book by my favorites. DO NOT DISAPPOINT ME, BOOK!!! You don't want to have to write a negative review for someone you know is awesome!

    You've got Benny spot on. He's so obnoxious at first, which is why I liked the second book better. Lilah is awesome. And Tom is freaking hot. They should make a movie, so I can see his hot Asian-ness.

    I really need to read Flesh & Bone.

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  8. I'm still at the rocky start. Hope to move on soon in order to like it.

    P.S. This is my very first zombie book.

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