Rot & Ruin (Rot & Ruin, #1) by Jonathan Maberry
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on September 14, 2010
Genres: young adult, post-apocalyptic, zombies
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I will be honest with you: I did not expect to enjoy this book nearly as much as I did.
I’m not a horror novel junkie, but I do like zombies (even though reading zombie books makes me low-key scared of the dark). I don’t enjoy being scared while reading, but there’s something about zombie novels that makes being scared fun. So I enjoy them, but I can’t read too many of them, or I’ll start to get paranoid.
A fellow reader recommended this series, and, when I saw the first book at the library, I picked it up, hoping it would be good.
And it was more than good. That first sentence is probably my favorite first sentence ever. (And no, I won’t tell you what it is; read the book and find out for yourselves. 😉 )
There are many things this book does well, but I would say its strongest asset is its humor. This book made me laugh a lot with its witty prose, which helped characterize Benny and his friends very realistically. It lightens the mood of this book considerably, which served as a great balance to what is otherwise a sad, morbid story of a world caged in by death–a world that forgets the meaning of compassion and humanity itself when it comes to the walking dead.
Another favorite aspect of this book is Tom. He’s just so cool, and I don’t mean in the testosterone, action-figure way. Tom is capable as a zombie bounty hunter, but he’s also incredibly wise and insightful. Where so many fellow bounty hunters have forgotten the meaning of mercy, Tom remembers, and he teaches Benny very, very well. Their sibling relationship was written beautifully–it’s so supportive and understanding and stable–and it’s another one of the things I loved about this book. I wanted more of their relationship, and I wanted more of Tom.
There were a few times where I felt the author got a little too caught up in the moment with his characters and overly-romanticized certain scenes/character decisions, which diminished their impact in my eyes. But, overall, Benny and Tom and Nix and Chong and the rest of their town have captured my heart. With solid world-building, an equal balance of entertaining action and well-written character development, and a fair share of tense, terrifying moments, this is a novel that’s just as much about the human conscience as it is about the zombies themselves. Forget my brains–this book ate my heart.
But, strangely, I’m okay with that.