Benny Imura lives in a gated community with his friends and his brother Tom. The reason it is gated is to keep the zombies in the great expansive “rot & ruin” out of their protected home life. Benny doesn’t remember much of the First Night when the zombie outbreak occurred except that his mother handed him, as a baby, to Tom and Tom ran away, leaving their parents behind. Due to that childhood memory, Benny has a hard time forgiving and trusting his older brother. When Benny joins Tom on a “bounty hunting” job out in the rot & ruin one day, the world as he thought he knew it was turned around. Everything he was convinced of before, Benny was not sure who were the true monsters anymore.
I hadn’t heard much about this book prior to adding it to our Brunch Book Club reading list. I haven’t read too many zombie novels, and I haven’t been on the whole zombie craze as of late so I was curious to see how I would fare with this read. I was absolutely pleasantly surprised. Maberry’s writing in Rot & Ruin is so full of heart and emotion and humanity that it opened up my eyes to seeing the genre in a different light, as Benny seems to see things differently in the story.
There were so many aspects to this book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the diversity in the characters. I loved the brotherly dynamic between Benny and Tom (totally huge fan of older brother Tom!). Maybe most importantly, I loved the take on the zombies as a character. There are so many books that try to make the zombies superhuman and this one developed the idea that brainless zombies are just that. Brainless. They’re not malicious, superhuman crazy killing machines. They’re just brainless zombies. And I loved that. While I could have done without some of the friends’ scenes that felt a bit sigh & eye-roll inducing, Rot & Ruin is definitely a great read for those that are both new to this genre or are fans of the zombie books. The pacing, the twist & turns, everything will keep you wanting more.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
Available: September 4, 2010
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Read as part of Brunch Book Club with Lost in a Great Book.
Wrap up discussion to come in the coming weeks.