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on 15 March 2013
This is an incredibly well-written and thought-provoking novel, even though it's a fun, fiction book geared towards those who are interested in all things to do with the zombie apocalypse. However, even though I normally don't go in for things that are zombie-themed, I loved this novel so much that I gave it to my boyfriend for a birthday present, because he IS into all things zombie apocalypse-related.
This novel takes place in the post-zom (as they're called in this novel) apocalypse time, when there is a fence around the town they live in and few dare to venture outside of it, and those who do are bounty hunters. Bounty hunters in this age, however, are assigned to offing zoms. Most bounty hunters go at it with little care as to whom they're offing, but Tom Imura, Benny's older brother, is different. He offs zoms who were once friends and family to those who hire him, with compassion and a sense of grace, versus the senseless and disgustingly violent hacking of the other bounty hunters. He respects the bodies of the souls that once lived in the zoms and un-animates them bearing that in mind.
Then comes the story of the Lost Girl. She lives in the wilderness, having grown up there, supporting herself, alone, and can barely speak. She is an anomaly, and there are people who want her. Benny wants to protect her, but the truth is that she doesn't need the protecting. She can take care of herself.
All of these factors play into this tale of the post-zom apocalypse and make for an incredible story that I am happy to read over and over again. I'm not one who usually goes for violence, but there is more to this story than the violence that makes it very, very worth reading.
I would recommend this to all readers, but especially teenage guys and anyone with a sense of adventure or fascination in zombies. I wholeheartedly recommend this. Even if you don't THINK you'll like this book, you'll probably like this book. It's that good of a story.
5/5 and two thumbs up! Well done, Jonathan Maberry.
And the good news is that there are already more books in the series! :D
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 July 2011
I admit to struggling to get into Rot and Ruin to begin with purely because I made a fundamental error upon beginnning this novel. I picked this up because I really enjoyed Patient Zero by Maberry and thought that this would be just as fantastic. And it is. But in an entirely different way. So the mistake I made was expecting this to be written in the same kind of way which it wasn't, after all it is a young adult novel which Patient Zero wasn't.

Having said that, I persevered in the hopes that Maberry would turn it around and provide me with a hidden gem and actually he did just that. Roughly 20-25% of the way through things started to get interesting and from that point it just got better and better. I love that the chapters are mostly short and sweet - this is a great tension builder for me. The characters were fantastic - each one was memorable and I liked them. The mini love triangle was great fun too.

But what makes this any different or any better then all the other zombie novels? It's simple. This isn't just the run of the mill, virus leading to infection leading to an apocolypse. And although I usually love that sequence of events this novel actually looks at the aftermath of these events. The main character Benny Imura and his brother Tom have a difficult relationship since their parents were turned into zombies during "First Night" - the beginning of the infection. Benny is searching for a job but eventually decides to join his brother who provides closure for families by "quieting" their loved ones. This essentially means he kills the zombie but before that he reads a letter from the family.

There are a lot of different ideas in Rot and Ruin like childrens zombie cards, the sliver to quiet the zombies and the bounty hunters. I would recommend this book because it really did get very good but be aware that this isn't another Patient Zero.
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on 5 January 2013
I'm sure everyone knows what I'm talking about when I say that reading a new book by one of your favourite authors is kinda nerve-racking. You're excited because it's a NEW BOOK but you're also scared because, well, what if you don't like it? This was exactly how I felt about Rot & Ruin. After all, Jonathan Maberry's Patient Zero was one of the very first zombie books I read, and Dead of Night was one of my favourite books of 2011 - what if I didn't like Rot & Ruin?

The very first thing that struck me about Rot & Ruin was that I didn't really like Benny - whiny and ungrateful and more than a little bit of a spoilt brat. BUT as the book progressed, he changed quite a lot, and by the end I actually did like him quite a bit and I love when a character grows and matures during the course of a book. His older brother Tom is far more likable, with a quiet confidence and sense of right and wrong.

By far my favourite characters in Rot & Ruin were Nix and Lilah - strong and determined female characters are something often missing in zombie books, but Jonathan Maberry can definitely write a good female character.

The world of Mountainside and the Rot & Ruin were infinitely fascinating. The town itself is a mixture of frontier town with bounty hunters and a small village with people going about their daily lives and trying to make the best of a crappy situation.

The Zombies themselves are the standard brain-eaters, but Maberry explores some very interesting ideas both of the characteristics of the zombies (zombies would apparently go downhill by habit as it's easier for them to follow a downhill slope than go uphill - may be an important point during the zombie apocalypse!) and the way that the survivors react to them. Although they are pretty much mindless eating machines, they are still viewed as people, in as much as they can be, and the survivors are incredibly respectful, right down to employing people specifically to end their loved ones' suffering.

The villains are magnificently villainous, especially Charlie - ugh how I loved to hate him. Along with his gang of thugs, he made for a truly despicable, evil character and I couldn't wait to see him get his just deserts.

The final and most moving scene, between Benny and Tom was incredibly bittersweet, and also really showed how their relationship had changed during the story.

I had a rocky start with Rot & Ruin, but by the end I could completely see where Mr. Maberry was going with the characters, the plot and the world-building and I can't wait to see what happens in Dust & Decay.
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on 16 December 2011
This book really impressed me. The name put me off as it sounds kind of...cheap? And the cover is cheap as its very thin and scuffs far too easy. But the content is the most important and that's where this really shines. The start is very strong and stays strong all the way to the end. Its based in the aftermath of the fall of humanity where only a few people are still alive in a world of zombies or zoms as they are referred to in the book, are everywhere to be precise 300,000,000 yes that's almost the entire population of North America. The main character is Benny Imura, a flawed individual which makes him all the more believable and his older brother Tom Imura the badass fighter. There are a lot of interesting characters, a lot of which are sick and twisted which strengthens the idea of the harsh lifestyle that the people have.
The story really kicks off when the ignorant Benny is forced to become his brother's apprentice as a Bounty Hunter as he can't secure any other job. This is where Benny's attitude changes dramatically on the zombies and what they are but also on a general aspect on the life that he's a part of. As a result his opinion on certain people changes as he sees what they really are.
Once Benny returns from his first trip of the Rot and Ruin (what the locals call the outside of the town)he buys a packet of zombie cards which are cards that have famous Bounty Hunters or loners. That's when we see the real colours of the books bad guys which is Charlie-Pink Eye and Motor City Hammer. I won't go too deep into the story but Charlie and M.C.H kidnap Nix, the girl Benny loves, and takes here into the Rot and Ruin. Benny and his brother go out to hunt them down and save Nix and the real adventure begins.

This was a FANTASTIC read and every minute that was spent reading the book was absolutely worth it. It was so good I prioritised this over revision for my Mock GCSE's. Honestly get it whether you like zombies or not as this is actually a very emotional and character driven plot. Go and explore the Rot and Ruin for yourself. ( By the way, the sequel is equally as good !!)
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on 3 May 2011
"Rot & Ruin" is a difficult review to write. It took me almost a month to finish and yet I really enjoyed it. It's quite a lengthy novel but for the first 250 pages, not very much happens other than a lot of ground work and characterisation, which I must say is out of this world.

However, although the first half took me weeks to get through due to putting it down, reading something else and then picking it up again, the second half of this book I gobbled up in two days, and now I've finished it I have to say that "Rot & Ruin" is a pretty sensational young adult novel.

Benny is a fourteen year old boy who lives with his older step-brother, Tom, in a fairly small community which banded together after 'First Night' when zombies took over the world. The humans that survived still really don't know what caused the rise. Benny is old enough now that he needs to find a job and so joins Tom in the family business of killing "zoms".

Benny's character arc is just fantastic. He begins the novel as an annoying child that really doesn't understand much of what is going on around him, and interprets memories as he sees fit. But as the story moves forward Benny learns a lot and begins to understand his brother Tom and by the end of the novel Benny is a true hero, much more mature and certainly more likeable.

Tom is a great character and I identified more with his character than Benny's but I think that is because he is more my age. He's strong, talented with a sword and has a good soul. He kills "zoms" not because he finds it entertaining like a lot of the other bounty hunters but because he wants to give families of the damned closure and he does it with as much dignity as the situation and circumstances allow. His character is very central to Benny's as Tom helps him understand and grow. Tom teaches Benny a lot knowingly, by directly trying to teach and show him things, but also unknowingly, by his actions and attitude.

The characterisation is superb. The descriptions of the surrounding desolated, zombie ridden landscape is vivid and the community the characters live in is described well. You can tell that each character has had time spent on them; fleshing them out so they are realistic and believable. As well as Benny and Tom, there are many other characters that make up this novel and give it its depth. They are all crucial to my overall impression of "Rot & Ruin" and without them I'm not sure the characters of Benny and Tom would have worked so well.

"Rot & Ruin" isn't all about the zombies. In fact there's not a lot of zombie action, it is mostly about the human interactions and confrontations which occur because of the messed up world they live in. It is very thought-provoking.

I knew what was coming at the end, in the epilogue, but it was incredibly effective all the same. The ending moved me and brought tears to my eyes. It really is a fantastic ending and yet leaves the story open to more books in the world of The Ruin.

VERDICT:

"Rot & Ruin" is a fabulous novel that has much more to do with the characters and the world they live in rather than just undead brain munchers. However, although I would have preferred a bit more zombie action, this novel is amazing and I would definitely recommend it to everyone - but be patient because it's totally worth it.
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on 8 October 2012
I read a few pages. I hated it. I mean really hated it.

I bought this book without knowing too much about it (I tend to like reading books knowing as little as possible about them beforehand, something that I accept can backfire), along with it's sequel. It was very quickly apparent that this book was written for teenagers, or, at the very least, removing anything too gory, violent or sexual so as not to be an adults only book.

I was very disappointed. But then I kept reading. And reading and reading and reading. 20% in, and I couldn't put it down. I finished it in three days, which is pretty good, considering I quite often only read after getting into bed.

Yes, the 'action' is very tame, but it's well written. It's one of those books where your mind fills in the blanks. You definitely find yourself cheering on the heroes and wanting the bad guys to get what's coming to them.

Also, the book is set well into a zombie infestation. Some of the characters have only ever known this world, which makes a refreshing change from 'Oh my god, there's a zombie outbreak, everyone run!". It definitely makes it more interesting, and presents a different kind of story within the genre.
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on 8 March 2013
I was reluctant to read this book at first with it being aimed at young adult readers, but read it anyway as it was recommended to me and I loved it! It is well written and makes you invest so much in the characters that I ran out and bought the next in the series as soon as I'd finished. I have to know what happens next to Benny & co. This is a must for any zombie fan!
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on 30 September 2013
I loved this book so much. For fans of the walking dead than rot and ruin is an absolute must because it is very much walking dead only from a teenagers angle. The basic concept is pretty much like all zombie stories the world has ended and for some unknown reason (as yet because there are another three books in the series at the moment) the dead have risen leaving humanity struggling to survive. However what makes this series different than other zombie books is that the zombies aren't the only monsters in town there's also human nature to worry about. Mayberry also keeps up the suspense if what else is outside the town of mountainside and doesn't give you any real clues so when certain events take place they can take you be surprise. Overall this is an awesome zombie apocalypse story and I am off to start the second book enjoy.
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on 11 February 2013
It's not really a zombie story it's about the relationship between Tom and Benny, and the other characters. It's market is teens I think but I'm way beyond my teens and really enjoyed it - infact all chores were put on hold as I needed to know what happened.
Finished it and gone straight out to buy the next one to see what happens next.
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VINE VOICEon 20 December 2012
I read the preview of this when it first came out - and I liked it, but I just never got round to reading it for one reason or another.

Then the price dropped which I have to admit was the reason behind me getting this now. I'm glad I did. This book is brilliant.

Right from the first page, the story had me hooked on the characters - good and bad, and the plot was just perfect. We see a slightly different take on the zombie idea here, I'm guessing to keep it nicer for young adults.

I liked this one so much, that I've gone straight in to the second book (Dust & Decay) and will most likely go for more Maberry books when that's done.

I can't recommend this enough - it really is great. Go now, read this.
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