Rot & Ruin - Jonathan Maberry
*October 5th, 2010 Simon & Schuster
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.
Zombies and the "zombie-apocalypse" have been pretty hot trends lately (and not just in YA books). Jonathan Maberry's Rot & Ruin is actually the first zombie-themed piece of entertainment that I've perused in a long while.
And what a piece of zombie-apocalypse it is!
I know I've been reading a lot of dystopia, a lot of post-apocalyptic stuff lately - most of which veers towards the science fiction side. Rot & Ruin creates a post-zombie-apocalyptic world that's both intriguing and immersing. It's a hard read to put down.
It's a little on the long side, at well over 400 pages, and I feel like the beginning could've been sped up so much more. Sure, it was backstory and all, but the writing could've been tightened and a bit more explanation could've been provided instead (rather than expecting readers to simply accept everything at face value). This in turn led to a few credibility issues, but for the most part it was fairly minor.
The characters are interesting and believable - because they each have character flaws. Definitely great to see that there aren't any Mary Sues/Gary Stus in Rot & Ruin. It's also cool to note that the main character, Benny Imura, is half Japanese (his brother Tom is fully Japanese). Although race isn't an issue that's explored in a major way here, the fact that it's referenced that the town is multicultural was very real to see.
At times it did feel like the "morals" of the story were being pounded in a little too hard and a little more show instead of tell could've been used. The action sequences were great, and the climax actually had action (yes!). Rot & Ruin tends to cater to the post-apocalyptic/zombie YA fan-base in general - it could be an enjoyable read for both guys and gals.
With action-packed adventure and interesting characters, Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry is an exciting and thought-provoking post-apocalyptic zombie read.
*I've also just found out tonight that there will indeed be a follow-up, titled Dust & Decay (gosh, what a great title).