Friday, November 4, 2011

Book Review: Rot & Ruin

I’m starting to see a theme in my reviews.

Can you guess what it is?

I promise the next review will NOT be about zombies; which is saying a lot since the more I try to not read novels focusing on zombies the more I subconsciously read books that focus on zombies. 

That sounds crazy. Yes. But it’s almost instinctive at this point. 

Honestly, I don’t even realize that I do it half the time. So that said... this is my last review of zombie themed literature for a while. Cross my heart and...

But on a more serious note, what kind of book review blog would I have if I didn’t review Rot & Ruin, book one in Jonathan Maberry's Benny Imura series? 


Benny Imura is only a baby when an outbreak strikes, turning earth’s inhabitants into brain eating undead, taking his parents with it. From that point on Benny is raised by his bounty hunter brother, Tom.

At the age of 15 the teenagers in the town of Mountainside have to take an apprenticeship learning trades to keep the town thriving or eventually their rations will be cut in half. Hey, if you don't work you don't eat; and it's not like they can go off to college or anything. It's a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world, that's the least of their worries. Benny, who absolutely despises Tom, desperately tries to find another person to do his apprenticeship with. Fate has other plans and Benny is forced to work with Tom.

Benny originally thinks that Tom is a softie-- a coward who ran away from danger instead of staying and fighting to save their parents. Mountainside's tough guy zombie hunting team, Charlie and Hammer, don't exactly help Benny's image of Tom. Benny just can't figure out why everyone keeps referring to Tom as one of the most respected bounty hunters in town. As Benny travels with Tom and learns more about what his older brother does when he goes out into the Rot and Ruin, he begins to see things differently. 

Tom is different from the other bounty hunters. He doesn't just randomly slaughter zombies like Charlie and Hammer. He helps families find the ones that they have lost to the virus and delivers messages from their family to them before he humanely "quiets" them. Because zombies were once people too.

The more Benny learns from Tom the more he realizes that things aren't exactly as they seem in the small town. When his friend Nix goes missing Benny and Tom learn of a place that they once though was a myth, where kids go to fight to the death against zombies. It doesn't take Benny long to realize that it's not just the zombies they should be afraid of.


This book had me at the front cover. I absolutely love the illustrations. The kids and teens of Mountainside series collect zombie trading cards which are gore-rifically illustrated in the first few pages and last few pages of the book. It is also through the trading cards that Benny first learns about the lost girl, a legend out in the Rot and Ruin of a young girl who has survived living among the zombies. 

I also really enjoyed the different perspective of zombies in this book. Yeah, the zombies are mindless killing machines, but that's just it. They're mindless, acting purely on instinct. By the end I was rooting for them.

Benny does a lot of growing up in this book. In the beginning he is a strong admirer of of the town's toughest bounty hunters, Charlie and Hammer, by the end of the book though it's apparent that Benny is left wondering who the monsters in the town really are? The zombies or the people that hunt them?

In the past I didn't really give Young Adult books a chance. I had this irrational assumption that they were full of teenage cliches and trivial plotlines. Not with this series; you get well written characters, complex world development, and Maberry is amazing at showing you what is going on versus just telling you. Plus, there area number of gory and suspenseful (to the point of being frightening) scenes. I read the entire book in three days. 

Maybe I shouldn't have stayed up until 2 am (talk about feeling like a zombie all day) but it was sooo worth it.

Rating: 5/5

Look for the second book in the Benny Imura series, Dust & Decay, in bookstores now! Flesh & Bone, the third book in the series is coming soon! Learn more about Maberry's newest zombie novel, Dead of Night, and his other books on his website.



  1. Glad you enjoyed ROT & RUIN. Hope you take a peek at DUST & DECAY as well.

    There are thirteen pages of free prequel scenes for ROT & RUIN available on the Simon & Schuster webpage for the book.

    And there are twenty-five pages of free scenes set between ROT & RUIN and DUST & DECAY. Here’s a link to the main page; access the scenes by clicking on the banner that reads: READ BONUS MATERIAL BY JONATHAN MABERRY:

    Benny Imura and his friends will return in FLESH & BONE (2012) and FIRE & ASH (2013)

  2. Thank you for your comment! I'm defintely going to grab Dust & Decay! I'm hooked! It's awesome that this is a four part series. I originally thought it was a trilogy. And thanks for the info about the bonus scenes, I am going to check it out now.



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