Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

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Review: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan MaberryRot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Series: Benny Imura #1
Published by Simon & Schuster BfYR on September 14th 2010
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Thriller, YA
Buy on Amazon

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 ...

-This novel was listened to via audiobook-

Long overdue for this zombie fan, I am finally – finally – reading this series! As you can guess I’ve been hearing a lot about this award winning author, Jonathan Maberry, and although I’m only on book 2 at the moment, I can already see why it garnered so much popularity (and book 2 is even better so far!).

This novel is set years after the zombies came, so it’s not your run of the mill survival of the fittest story happening in the midst of an apocalypse, this one is about what happens after that. After society has somewhat survived. After people have been forced to learn to live with unrelenting fear. After everyone in power is out there shambling away, leaving control to whoever takes it. This is the post apocalypse, ladies and gentlemen, it’s violent, it’s merciless, and the only way to fight for what’s right is to go and do it yourself! This is basically the gist of what this series is about. With that said, don’t expect constant flesh eating action. We’re after something that is much more cruel than zombies – the latter having more or less settled down on a now barely inhabited earth. They remain a constant threat for sure, and the fear is looming in the background at all times, but it’s not a continuous bloodbath like your average zombie horror flick. Although we do get some intensely kick ass zombie scenes that will get your adrenaline pumping once or twice. Learning about these zombies, the world building as a whole, kept me engrossed as much as any action sequence. I loved all the theories behind the zombies themselves which, if explored further, has the potential to become very interesting. Plus the details we do have so far – how they act, what they can/can’t do (how sometimes they do turn doorknobs, etc) – are so well thought up. Very realistic; very eerie.

The main character, Benny, I admit, was not my favorite at the beginning. He came off as an annoying brat, and oblivious one time too many, but when he goes off into the Rot and Ruin with his brother – aka in the real world – he grows up fast. We see this teenage boy learn the horrors that lay beyond the fence, and, in turn, the change in behavior this elicits. It’s impressive character growth. In the end he’s still a teenager at heart and with harsh cracks in his soul, but he’s a brave young man that I came to admire. As for Tom, he’s the bigger, stronger, more intelligent big brother who plays a big role in this story. What I loved the most about him was how much of a survivor he was, while keeping his moral values in check – not always easy in this world! Plus he never gives up on his little brother regardless of Benny’s grudge against him. There is one other character who comes into play who fascinated me from the start. I’m very curious to see where this character will lead us. Just the oddity of their mental/social development in itself is especially intriguing.

One thing I didn’t feel in this book was the romance. Benny kept saying that he didn’t feel “that way” about Nix, then a romance sprouts out of nowhere between them, lacking both buildup and emotional connection. You can’t even blame it on a bond built from surviving together through extreme life and death situations because they’re apart most of the book, until they’re suddenly making out. I just didn’t understand where it came from.

I can already say that Rot and Ruin is only just the beginning of what promises to be an excellent, hectic series. Like all great zombie stories, it’s a very character oriented, well built world filled with villains who are even worse than the flesh eating monsters who started it all!


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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26 Responses to “Review: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Yet another series that I need to get started on. I like a good zombie book and this does sound quite interesting.
    I like how this story takes place after a few years of the zombie apocalypse. That makes it unique I think.
    I’m not sure what to make of Benny. I have no patience for annoying, bratty characters. And I hate it when a romance sprouts out of nowhere. Remember Taken? *shudders*
    Still, despite the issues this book does seem well-written, so I’m going to definitely try it.
    Lovely review, Giselle! 🙂

  2. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    I remember the first time I ever saw that cover, I had a mini heart attack. It’s not that scary, but I think I may have had a little too much coffee beforehand, lol. It’s interesting how this is set years after the zombuie apoc. I am curious now!

    Great review, Giselle! <33

  3. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Benny was such a little weasel. I wanted to smack him upside the head more than once. But I really liked Tom and the way he helped Benny and the way he viewed the world. I haven’t read the rest of the series (and probably won’t. Darned time. I need more!) but I did enjoy this one!

  4. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    I really need to read this series!! Every time I go to B&N I almost buy the first one because I know I will love it. Great review. You have me excited to eventually start this. Maybe I will get the audiobooks…

  5. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    Wow the fact that this book takes place years after the initial apocalypse is so fascinating and different, and I’m a total wimp so it’s awesome how there’s not a lot of eat-your-face-off happening. The world in general sounds realistic, though, and I’m glad that the characters went through great growth. The romance does seem a little underdeveloped. But I’m glad you enjoyed the other parts of it!

    Fantastic review, Giselle! <33

  6. Christianna

    These books sound awesome! I’m getting a bit of a “Walking Dead” vibe. Like real people dealing with real issues and then there just happens to be terrifying zombies as well! I can dig it!

  7. ShootingStarsMag

    I do need to read this series, though I own this one so that’s a start. I’m glad to hear it’s got some great characters and I like that it takes place some years after the zombies arrive. That’s definitely a bit different!

  8. Megan

    I almost bought this one from Walmart a few weeks ago. Glad to hear it’s good, although I hate it when characters start making out out of nowhere. I always feel like I’ve missed something.

  9. Emily Drema

    Well, now this looks positively creepy! The cover itself just gave me a 1001 goosebumps! It’s interesting to see that the book didn’t just explore the events during the actual apocalypse, but a few years after that. That’s different for a change! 🙂
    Sometimes, when romance takes a backseat, it may be better because it gives time to develop the other aspects of the novel.
    Glad you enjoyed this one!
    Fantastic, insightful review Giselle! <3

  10. Jen

    I’ve been wanting to read this one myself! It sounds like a really good zombie book, and I’m happy to hear that Maberry explains the post-apocalyptic world well. Benny sounds like a character I would really like, even if he starts off as annoying. And yay for brother relationships! That romance though.. Not too sure about that, it sounds random. Anyway, wonderful review, Giselle! I can’t wait to pick this one up.

  11. Braiden @ Book Probe

    I have Rot & Ruin on my shelf and have been meaning to get to that series for some god damn long time and it’s killing me because when I try to get to it I never really do >.< Glad you enjoyed it! And these are some of my favourite zombie-related covers.

  12. Vivian

    I remember seeing this series awhile ago and was interested, but never got around to it. You’re making me wanna move it up the list, lol. It sucks that the romance was blah, but I haven’t read many zombie books so this should be refreshing. Great review!

  13. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    I also thought book two was better, and totally imagined you would enjoy this one. Plenty of zombie mayhem and gore, which is right up your alley. Benny was seriously the worst at first, but he has a nice character arc. Also, Tom Imura is mine.

    I don’t remember feeling the romance either, though, if I remember right, he was saying he didn’t like her much like a little boy pulling pigtails. He’s a brat after all.