Rot and Ruin
Series: Benny Imura #1
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Thriller, YA
Publication date: September 14th 2010
by Simon & Schuster BfYR
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!