REVIEW: Rot & Ruin

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Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Jonathan Maberry definitely has a new fan for life. I was already a fan after the action packed Patient Zero and Dragon Factory, and Rot & Ruin just seals the deal. Plus, he just seems like an awesome guy.

Maberry transitions to the young adult scene without a hitch, providing us with the coming of age story of Benny Imura, who’s grown up without ever knowing the world before First Night (aka the zombie apocalypse). The world building is handled creatively, showing each aspect of Moutainside, the village the survivors of First Night inhabit, by way of Benny searching for and trying out many of the jobs, which range from fence tester to bottler. Bottler – as in bottling the juices from dead bodies to create Cadaverine, useful for tricking zoms into thinking you are one of them. He finally admits defeat and joins his brother Tom, who Benny has zero respect for, to become a bounty hunter, and this is where the real fun begins. Benny has an eye opening experience out in the Rot & Ruin, realizing that the bounty hunters he had once looked up to were less human than the zoms they hunted, and gradually learns the truth about the kind of guy his brother really is.

Maberry sticks with the philosophy so prevalent in Romero’s zombie films, which is that the zombies aren’t the real things we should be careful of – it’s other human beings. The same existential “I take what I want” type of attitude that is apparent today is still rampant (if not more so) out in the Rot & Ruin, as expected in any post apocalyptic society. Maberry does take the social commentary a step further, however, and makes you really question the way we think about zombies. About how they used to be someone’s family member, lover, child, parent, and how even though they might try to gnaw your eyes out, they should still be treated with respect. This doesn’t mean the novel skimps on zombie slaying action – there’s plenty of  katana slicing and bokken bashing to keep fans of the genre excited.

Verdict: There’s a good reason why Rot & Ruin has been getting rave reviews – it’s awesome. It rocks that Maberry is creating something that adolescent male readers can easily get into, and even though I claim to be an adult, I know I’ll be buying the sequels.