Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ROT & RUIN AND DUST & DECAY by Jonathan Maberry-REVIEW

Tom and Benny Imura survived First Night when the world as they knew it turned upside down. Where the dead became reanimated. They lost their parents that night.

Mountainside is their home now. A town surrounded by fences to keep the zombies away. Benny is now 14 and has to choose a job in order to keep receiving his full rations. Tom earns a living as a bounty hunter. He goes out into the Rot & Ruin to find people's family members and put them to death permanently.

Benny loves to hang out with Charlie Pink-Eye and his hoodlum friend The Motorcity Hammer. He loves to hear their stories of how they kill zoms out in the Rot & Ruin. In Benny's mind compared to Charlie and Hammer his brother Tom is a coward.

As time has finally run out for Benny to find a job he agrees to go with Tom out into the Ruin to see what the "family business" is really like. What he learns is that Tom doesn't just randomly kill zombies. He teaches Benny that each zombie used to be a REAL person, a member of a family and deserves that respect. Tom "quiets" the zombies he is sent out to find. He reads them a letter from their family member and he then quiets them so they are no longer roaming around as zombies. It gives closure to the family member. This confuses Benny as he has a strong hate for the zombies and after all of Charlie's and Hammer's stories he has never thought of them as being real people.

Benny finds that not all bounty hunters are as compassionate as his brother Tom. In fact he hears about a place that some of the bounty hunters take innocent children to and make them fight zombies. When Benny happens to get a collector card of the "Lost Girl" one day he finds that this is a "mythical" girl that is supposedly out in the Ruin who may know some of the dealings of the bounty hunters.

As a storm rages over the city and the fence fails Benny finds out to what lengths these bounty hunters will go to protect their interest in the gaming park. Benny and Tom go out into the Ruin to rescue Benny's friend Nix and to find the Lost Girl who may be able to show them where the games take place. What happens while out in the Ruin is horrible and will change their lives forever.

Oh my goodness! Why have I waited so long to read this book? It was soooo good! Really though I'm glad I waited because I have my copy of Rot & Ruin and the sequel Dust & Decay autographed by Jonathan Maberry. Dust & Decay comes out in August but I snagged an ARC copy at the TLA conference I went to. Yay me! Anyway, this was such a good book. I had to close it several times because I couldn't take the suspense, but then I would have to open it and read on to find out what happens! Even though this is a zombie book I was more interested in the human relationships that were going on. Excellent read!

Benny just turned fifteen. In his world that means he must find a job in order to continue receiving his rations. The problem is, Benny can’t find a job he likes. He and his best friend, Chong, waited too long to get one and all the easy jobs are gone. What’s left aren’t very appealing. He’s tried being a locksmith, a fence tester, a fence technician, a carpet coat salesman, a pit thrower, a crank generator repairman, a spotter, a bottler, and an erosion artist. It seems like the only option left is to join the family business.

Benny’s brother, Tom, is one of the most respected and successful zombie killers. The problem is, Benny doesn’t know why people think Tom’s that great. He’s never seen Tom do anything especially exciting or impressive – in fact, he’s actually turned away from violence, which makes Benny think Tom’s a coward. Tom is nothing like the totally cool Zombie Killers like Charlie Pink-Eye and Motor City Hammer. Benny has never intended to do what Tom does. He’s always said no every time Tom asked him to become his apprentice. But, his lack of success in any other job has left him no choice.

Benny learns a lot while out in the Rot & Ruin with Tom. He learns about his own past, what it is that Tom really does, and what separates man from monster. Benny’s outlook on life completely changes as he begins to realize there might be more to life than just his small town of Mountainside.

ROT & RUIN is a perfect choice for readers who enjoyed THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. Both books take place in a small town of survivors surrounded by fences that keep the zombies out. ROT & RUIN is set in a time when people still remember what happened when the zombies started rising, so the reader gets some first-hand accounts of First Night (the night the world changed). ROT & RUIN also gives us some of the blood and gore that we sometimes want in a zombie novel.

Jonathan Maberry did an excellent job developing the characters and creating an interesting setting. The reader can get lost in Benny’s world. ROT & RUIN gets the Stay Awake Award because I couldn’t put it down. In fact, I stayed up to 3:30 A.M. one night to finish. This story caused me to cringe, gasp, chuckle, and cry. Absolutely amazing!

For 7 months Tom has been training Benny, Lilah, Nix, and Chong how to survive in the Rot & Ruin. Preparing them for their trek east in search of the jet they all saw fly over them months before. Nix cannot wait to leave all of her memories behind. Lilah cannot wait to feel freedom outside of the fences. Chong is only going for an overnight camping trip to further his training and of course to be with Lilah for a little while longer.

Once in the Rot & Ruin though things do not go the way they planned. Things seem to be happening in the Ruin that indicate that Gameland is once again up and running. While checking out a dead body they encounter Preacher Jack. A man whose title doesn't match his evil countenance.

When they all become separated things go from bad to worse. Not only struggling against the living dead, they are also having to contend with an evilness in humans that they never thought possible.

Once again Jonathan Mayberry has kept me on the edge of my seat! There were times in the story that I would get so stressed out that I had to set the book down for a while! This is an ARC copy that I received at TXLA in April. Jonathan Mayberry was kind enough to autograph it for me. It comes out in stores in August of 2011. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!

Benny made it back from the Rot & Ruin only to start training with his brother, Tom, to leave again. After seeing the airplane fly over, Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Tom have been anxious to find out where it was going. Could there be civilization beyond the Rot & Ruin?

Every day Tom trains Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Chong. He prepares them to fight the Zoms they are sure to encounter on their long trek across the dangerous country. Everyone has different feeling about leaving home. Benny isn’t sure he wants to leave FOREVER, but is willing to in order to be with Nix. Nix, who has nothing left is desperate to leave behind all the bad memories. Lilah just wants to feel freedom and live outside the fences again. Tom decides he has to leave since his countless pleas to the town leader’s to build up defenses have fallen on deaf ears. Chong, without the permission of his parents, is staying behind.

Tom plans an overnight trip to help the kids practice living beyond the fences. Chong is given permission to accompany his friends for this short adventure which gives him more time to spend with Lilah.

The overnight outing doesn’t go as planned and the kids are separated from each other and Tom. Evidence points to the possibility that Gameland is up and running again and even worse, could Charlie Pink Eye still be alive?

DUST & DECAY is filled with danger and excitement, love and hatred. It keeps the reader engaged from the first page. The horrors the characters live through is heartbreaking. This is a zombie book that will bring you to tears.

Julie agrees to meet Karin halfway on these two books. While I totally enjoyed both of these books and think that they are very appropriate for most readers there are some disturbing images in them.


  1. I loved Rot & Ruin, as did my son and we can hardly wait for Dust & Decay to come out. I am so envious of your ARC copy!! Thanks for the reviews - I am glad the second book is as good as the first.

  2. Yes Coreena the second book is just as good as the first. I hate waiting for books in a series though! I hope Jonathan Maberry writes the 3rd book quickly!


  3. Writing the 3rd book --FLESH & BONE-- right now.

    1. Thank u and please make it as great as the first two. My son had me read the first one and as soon as I was able to read it I bought the second and finished it that day.

  4. Thanks for stopping by Mr. Maberry! Can't wait to read Flesh & Bone!

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  7. when will the book be out for sale Flesh & Bone

  8. Good question Anonymous! I don't know.


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