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Rot & Ruin

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In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

458 pages, Hardcover

First published September 14, 2010

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About the author

Jonathan Maberry

463 books7,325 followers
JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-seller and Audible #1 bestseller, five-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, anthology editor, comic book writer, executive producer, magazine feature writer, playwright, and writing teacher/lecturer. He is the editor of WEIRD TALES Magazine and president of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. He is the recipient of the Inkpot Award, three Scribe Awards, and was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than thirty countries. He writes in several genres including thriller, horror, science fiction, epic fantasy, and mystery; and he writes for adults, middle grade, and young adult.

Jonathan is the creator, editor and co-author of V-WARS, a shared-world vampire anthology from IDW Publishing that was adapted into a NETFLIX series starring Ian Somerhalder (LOST, VAMPIRE DIARIES).

His young adult fiction includes ROT & RUIN (2011; was named in Booklist’s Ten Best Horror Novels for Young Adults, an American Library Association Top Pick, a Bram Stoker and Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading winner; winner of several state Teen Book Awards including the Cricket, Nutmeg and MASL; winner of the Cybils Award, the Eva Perry Mock Printz medal, Dead Letter Best Novel Award, and four Melinda Awards); DUST & DECAY (winner of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award; FLESH & BONE (winner of the Bram Stoker Award; 2012; and FIRE & ASH (August 2013). BROKEN LANDS, the first of a new spin-off series, debuted in 2018 and was followed by LOST ROADS in fall 2020. ROT & RUIN is in development for film by ALCON ENTERTAINMENT and was adapted as a WEBTOON (a serialized comic formatted for cell phones), becoming their #1 horror comic.

His novels include the enormously popular Joe Ledger series from St. Martin’s Griffin (PATIENT ZERO, 2009, winner of the Black Quill and a Bram Stoker Award finalist for Best Novel) and eleven other volumes, most recently RELENTLESS. His middle grade novel, THE NIGHTSIDERS BOOK 1: THE ORPHAN ARMY (Simon & Schuster) was named one the 100 Best Books for Children 2015. His standalone novels include MARS ONE, GLIMPSE, INK, GHOSTWALKERS (based on the DEADLANDS role-playing game), X-FILES ORIGINS: DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, and THE WOLFMAN --winner of the Scribe Award for Best Movie Adaptation

His horror novels include The Pine Deep Trilogy from Pinnacle Books (GHOST ROAD BLUES, 2006, winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and named one of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium; DEAD MAN’S SONG, 2007; and BAD MOON RISING, 2008; as well as DEAD OF NIGHT, and its sequels, FALL OF NIGHT, DARK OF NIGHT, and STILL OF NIGHT.

His epic fantasy series, KAGEN THE DAMNED debuts in May 2022. And he just signed to co-author (with Weston Ochse) a new series of military science fiction novels that launches the SLEEPERS series. Jonathan will also be launching a new series of science fiction horror novels for the newly established Weird Tales Presents imprint of Blackstone Publishing.

He is also the editor of three THE X-FILES anthologies; the dark fantasy anthology series, OUT OF TUNE; SCARY OUT THERE, an anthology of horror for teens; and the anthologies ALIENS: BUG HUNT, NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD (with George Romero), JOE LEDGER UNSTOPPABLE (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt); two volumes of mysteries: ALTERNATE SHERLOCKS and THE GAME’S AFOOT (with Michael Ventrella); and ALIENS V PREDATOR: ULTIMATE PREY (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt). He is also the editor of DON’T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, the official tribute to SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. His next anthology will be ALIENS VS PREDATOR: ULTIMATE PREY (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt), debuting in spring 2022.

Jonathan was an expert on the History Channel documentary series, ZOMBIES: A Living History and TRUE MONSTERS. And he was participated in the commentary track for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED.

His many nonfiction works include VAMPIRE UNIVERSE (Citadel Press, 2006); THE CRYPTOPED

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,922 reviews
Profile Image for Penny.
215 reviews1,386 followers
May 11, 2011
This is what I learned from reading Rot & Ruin:

1. Zombies iz people too. So they should be treated with respect, yo. (more about this later)

2. Books containing zombies can be really irritating and boring.

You see, I didn't know this was a possibility. I mean, it's zombies we're talking about here. How could zombies be boring? Turns out all you need to do is add a lame teenage romance and BAM! What really matters (ZOMBIES!) gets shoved onto the backburner in favor of the not-so-important (love story??? Who invited that guy? Alright, I'm out!).

It needs to be said: if I wanted a romance novel I'd waste my time reading the likes of Nicholas Sparks. And that would never happen. Ever. Besides, I picked up a zombie book because I wanted to read a zombie story. Horror, Violence, Decapitations--oh my!

Maberry's story has these things, but not enough to hold my interest. Most of the time we're being preached to by Tom Imura, Benny's older brother. See Tom Imura is a zombie slayer for hire. One of the best. You'd think a katana-wielding slayer extraordinaire would liven things up a bit. But no. No, he doesn't. He just waxes philosophical about how zombies are people too.

The treating-zombies-with-respect-by-not-killing-them-unless-you-have-to thing? Ruined this book. Basically the argument defending this school of thought goes a little like this:

Tom Imura: Pretend you're at a loved one's funeral and suddenly someone you don't know shows up and like defecates on your loved one's corpse. Wouldn't that anger you? Wouldn't that be disrespectful to your loved one and everyone who ever cared about them?

Me: HECK YEAH! Let me at that disgusting jerk!

Tom Imura: These zombies are other people's loved ones.

Me: I totally agree. So sad. :(
Go on.

Tom Imura: Okay, so when you go around decapitating random zombies who are in no way bothering you you're pretty much doing the same thing as that filthy stranger that took a massive dump on your love one's corpse.


Tom Imura: So basically you should just leave all those walking corpses--you know, the ones that totally want to eat your face and make you a zombie--alone. Because if you don't that's the same is defecating on a dead body. Or something.

Me: *laughing hysterically* er...what??? I fail to see the connection. Your analogy is shoddy at best.

Tom Imura: No really, think about it. Zombies have feelings too, as do their loved ones who may or may not be alive after the zombie apocalypse happens. Just leave all those innocent flesh-eating zombies alone, k. Promise? Unless, of course, a family member of a specific zombie hires you to hunt down said zombie for the sole purpose of decapitating them.

Me: Uhhhh...no. If a zombie apocalypse happens I'm going to decapitate EVERY ZOMBIE I SEE. Wanna know why? Because I'm thoughtful. See, if I'm ever unfortunate enough to become a zombie I hope someone would be thoughtful enough to decapitate me and burn my remains to ash. As far as I'm concerned it would be incredibly disrespectful to do otherwise.

I certainly don't want to walk the earth for an indefinite amount of time, rotting away and eating other people. What if I end up being one of those naked zombies? No one wants to be a naked zombie. I'd rather be dead dead then be a naked zombie, or a zombie of any sort for that matter.

Also? Zombies carry disease. A freaking plague. Why wouldn't I want to stop that from spreading?

I have zero desire to finish Rot & Ruin despite the fact I've got only 25 pages to go. Like I said earlier, there is a laaaaaame teenage romance that pretty much hijacks the plot. I probably would just bite the bullet and finish the book if I hadn't had to force myself to get this far. So no, I can't do it Cap'n.

Jonathan Maberry is totally going be among the first to die when zombies attack. Mark my words.
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.2k followers
June 12, 2010
My little brother and I generally get along very well. Except for an occasional intellectual disagreements on ethics, morality, religion or politics we're pretty close. However, he can sometimes be a naive pain-in-the-butt. Until reading Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, I assumed this was something that would have to be cured by time, experience, and several well-timed and well-placed blows to the head.

However, parents and old siblings can now breath a sigh of relief because Jonathan Maberry has devised the perfect solution to our problems with snot-nosed, idiot teenagers!

In ten easy days your temperamental child can be transformed from shit-head to SMART-head! That's right. For only $49.99 plus postage and handling, to be paid in three easy installments you can have your very own zombie apocalypse! Guaranteed to straighten out and rectify almost any maladjusted behavior in children (excluding violence and extreme fear) and turn them into useful members of society. And if it doesn't work out - the zombies clean up the mess FOR you and nobody needs to know... CALL NOW for 250,000 extra zombies FREE for the price of 6,837,452,001!

Rot & Ruin is a great first installment in a zombie dystopian future about a boy named Benny and his older, exasperated brother Tom. This book is well written. Benny is a great character and his friends Chong, Morgie and Nix are good for a chuckle.

Tom, his dashing, debonair brother is lovable and... well, kind of hot really. Trying to deal with Benny as a fifteen year old and regular pain-in-the-ass and build some kind of relationship between the two of them, he drags Benny out of their safe town and into the 'Rot & Ruin'.

Benny's adventures there lead him to new insight into human nature and zombie nature. When things turn bad for his girlcrush, Nix, ("Oh no!" Benny says, "Don't tell people I have a crush on her! It's embarrassing and I might get cooties!") Benny has some quick growing up to do.

I really liked this story. It was such a refreshing difference in both the genre and in terms of the books I've been reading lately. The big romance in this book is not really between Benny and Nix or Benny and Lilah. It's a bromance between Benny and his brother Tom as they come together to heal their relationship and bring their small family back together.

The story is packed with action, adventure, zombies, gore and violence. That's why we read it, right? But it's also filled with loving, tender moments between the two brothers as they learn and discover new things about each other.

Nix and Lilah, the two girls in this story, are kick-arse and I give Maberry full credit and appreciation for developing two complex, intelligent and capable characters that totally own this book. From Nix who is strong and thoughtful, resourceful and compassionate, to Lilah who is cold, intelligent, capable, resourceful and dangerous. I want to see more women like this in fiction.

All up, this book is a fun, wonderful read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can't wait to read more from Jonathan Maberry! Oh, and if you call now, I'll add in ANOTHER 250,000 zombies to that offer. 555-ZOMBIE-YEY-111. That's, 555-ZOMBIE-YEY-111.
Profile Image for Lyndsey.
126 reviews3,260 followers
June 8, 2011
You know when you see yourself in a picture and think, "Ahhhhhhhh! Is that me?"

You just don't look right because you're used to seeing yourself from a different angle in the mirror. That's how this entire book felt because I thought I was seeing it all wrong. Something just seemed off. But more on that later *long drawn out dramatic pause*............ Dun, dun, duuuuuuun.

Beware! Minor Spoilers are afoot (and tagged). That's if you can spoil something that's already 'Rot'ten and 'Ruin'ed to begin with. Haha. Oh, and Major Ranting *salute* runs wild, crazy, and naked all over this review like a mad man on a football field.

Let me start off by saying that this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year so perhaps I went in with much-too-high expectations. I went into it expecting to LOVE it, but often found myself rolling my eyes at what felt like preaching and dumbing-down to a younger audience.

So, the first couple chapters of this book were the most tremendously creative and in depth look at what it takes to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Benny and Chong just turned 15, and it is time for them to start looking for their zombietown survival-related jobs. The jobs were highly original and realistic, well as realistic as you can get for a book about people with Mad Human Disease. As far as this part of the book goes, I was as twitterpated as squirrel with a huge mug of coffee.

Well, Benny ends up becoming a zom hunter. Big surprise there, right? Because a book entirely about a boy who makes his living bottling dead-flesh scent for the hunters to use as zombie repellant would have been awesome! Too bad Benny didn't go for that job. It's also too bad they didn't have a factory for making this drink:

Right from the get go, the characters come alive. Even the dead ones! Har har. But, I suppose that's the point of a zombie book, after all. There are so many intriguing supporting roles in this story. There's a big problem though; they're stagnant characters. They change by the end but only because we are told they've changed, not shown. I didn't feel it, and it didn't seem genuine. They don't have much chemistry together, and the beginning is as good as it gets. At first, I was excited about the characters, but very soon I became annoyed with them.

Thing is: we are introduced to two charming yet ignorant characters, who Benny sees as heroes.  You start out convinced to really like these guys and then it's all turned upside down when they become the center of a vast network of crime and villainy. As unintelligent as they are, simpleton zom hunters Charlie and Hammer are, at first, hilarious side characters/antagonists. I found this part at the beginning with Charlie and Hammer very funny:

"You boys have to be rich as Midas by now."
"Midas?" asked Hammer. "Who's he?"
"I think he sold mufflers," offered Norbert, one of the traders who used armored horses to pull wagons of scavenged goods from town to town, "and then bought a kingdom."
"Yeah," said Charlie, nodding as if he knew that to be the truth. "King Midas. Definitely from Detroit. Made a fortune outta car parts and such."

Kinda funny, right? Unfortunately, it's also the only funny part I actually remembered.

Here I was, thinking these guys would be the Ari and Janco (from Poison Study series) of Rot and Ruin, but Noooo. Soon after, we are supposed to hate them and want them dead as quickly as our protagonist does.

Benny's older brother, Tom, is the zombie hunter who begins training him. But for these guys, it isn't about the gore or adrenaline. It's about closure. People hire them to slay their zombified loves ones so they can rest in peace at last. A good twist on the usual zombie slayage but I missed the massive mayhem usually associated with zombie books. Plus, A LOT of the book was told after-the-fact with other people relating stories to Benny through dialogue. Looooong stories.

Within the stories told to Benny by his brother is another fascinating concept that I actually wish the story had been centered around. There's a place called Gameland where mercenaries pit people versus zombies arena-style, or have them compete in other horrific zombie-themed games and mazes.

The storytelling, namely how much "telling", was really taking a toll on my psyche. Tom would start an important story and ramble on about slightly related things and then say "let's save the rest of the story for later" or "I'm not sure I'm ready to tell you that yet" or "maybe if I trusted you more". Oh my God! Shut up and talk!!! The banter between the two was ridiculous, in a very very bad way that made me want to spank myself just so I could hit something!

This is an embellished version of a conversation between Benny and Tom. Remember, Benny is the whiny younger brother. And Tom is the self-righteous zombie killer.

Benny: I effing hate zoms. I want to kill them!!!!
Tom: But why do you want to kill them, little brother?
Benny: Because they are EFFING zoms and I hate them! Waaah!
Tom: Okay kiddo, but WHY are they zombies?
Benny: Because they EFFING died!!!! Gahhhh!
Tom: And what, little man, were they before they died?
Benny: They were people, you EFFING idiot!
Tom: And knowing that they were once people do you still want to kill them, little brother?
Benny: EFFING yes I do! Ahhhhh! Idiot!
Tom: Are you sure about that, buddy?
Benny: Yes I'm EFFING sure? Why are you all up on me like this?
Tom: Don't you at least want to kill them nicely, little bro?
Benny: EFF Yes! As long as you will shut the EFF up!
Tom: That's not very nice, Benny! Don't you want to be nice?
Benny: Why the EFF are you so EFFING mean to me?!

Yeah, annoying isn't it? Okay, so Benny never actually uses the "eff" word but that was just for dramatic effect.

There are also alot of scenes involving main characters and chaos where all the characters can do is scream each others names. They go a little something like this: TOM! Miscellaneous mercenary mayhem. BENNY! Zombie Mayhem. NIX! Mercenary and zombie mayhem. TOM! Mayhem. BENNY! Mayhem. NIX! You get the picture. We don't really get any inner dialogue or see any foresight from them in these situations, whatsoever. Yes, theres some bashing and slashing. But way too much yelling out names.

I think part of the problem is that my brain is descending into sexual tension oblivion. Almost to the point that I just can't read something where there are no characters who have some sort of underlying physical chemistry together.

This book was interesting, funny at times, and tried to be action-filled but for at least the first half, pretty much ALL of the main characters were male. With the exception of the one girl, who all Benny does is talk about how he doesn't look at her THAT way, while at the same time mentioning how tight her t-shirt is. Huh? How does a teenage boy not look at a hot teenage girl who fills out her shirt in THAT kind of way? Whatevs. Oh, then after all the talk about him not liking her as anything but a friend for what seemed like 3/4 of the book,

And every once in a while, the perspective would jump to a completely random character for like two paragraphs with unnecessary passages. Why? I don't understand.

Among the stories told to Benny, most center around a mysterious kick-ass character called the Lost Girl, whose heart-pounding stories are all related to Benny in past tense and involving way to much hearsay. It's like what the movie Kick-Ass would have been if Hit-Girl was just always talked about in passing by the characters and then didn't show up until like the last 15 minutes. Who wants that?

There were countless incredible ideas in Rot and Ruin. It just never seemed like we were getting the story from the right perspective. I'm not even sure that Benny was necessary to the story at all. All the backstories would have been better experienced first hand. I would have much rather have seen the story told from the perspective of the Lost Girl starting from the time she was two years old, .

There were a few really good quotes though, and this was one of my favorite:

"People need something to blame. If they can't find something rational to blame, then they'll very happily blame something irrational."

I also really like this one:

"There are moments that define a person's whole life. Moments in which everything they are and everything they may possibly become balance on a single decision. Life and death, hope and despair, victory and failure teeter precariously on the decision made at that moment. These are moments ungoverned by happenstance, untroubled by luck. These are the moments in which a person earns the right to live, or not."

I'm still rating higher because I liked the concept and loved the beginning. But by the end, I hated the fact that I didn't love ANY of the main characters.

I'm really torn up over the fact that I didn't like this more. But not too torn up. As far I can tell, all my limbs are still attached and my flesh isn't hanging off, so that's a good sign. I haven't officially been a victim of zombism yet as far as this book is concerned. The story itself just didn't grab me as much as I expected. I was hoping for the Hunger Games of zombies and I think I got more of the Matched of zombies.

So, after all this frustration, I really need something to cheer me up. And all I found was this.

Truthfully, I think that is more unnerving than is it awesome - and a lot like Rot and Ruin now that I think about it.

Ahhhhh, much better! Now I can rest easy knowing that if zombified felines exist, at least some of them are ADORABLE!
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,589 reviews8,819 followers
March 17, 2015
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“Save words like ‘sorry.’ Save for the dead. Living don’t need them.”

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Seriously. Once I ran through the gamut of vampires and werewolves and angels (oh my!) a few years ago, zombies were the next obvious choice. I plowed through zombie horror stories, zombie romance stories, zom-coms, you name it – but somehow I managed to miss this one.

When the Zombie Apocalypse finally takes place, I have a feeling we’ll find this to be the most true to how we all will live.

1. In all actuality no one will probably ever figure out exactly what caused the zombie uprising to begin with. All we will know is one night the world went to shit and everything changed . . .

“I think that it doesn’t matter one little bit. It happened. The dead rose, we fell. We lost the war and we lost the world. End of story. How it happened doesn’t matter much to anyone anymore. We’re living next door to the apocalypse, kid.”

2. The “Rot and Ruin” is the best description of what a zombie world will be. And the Ruin is going to be the equivalent of Vegas . . .

“There’s no law past the fence line. What’s done in the Ruin, stays in the Ruin.”

3. The Ruin will be hazardous for your health. Not only will it be riddled with undead, but it will be completely overgrown and extremely difficult to navigate . . .

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4. Zombies will outnumber humans by A LOT and good ol ‘Murica will probably jump the gun and do something stupid like drop nukes on cities – which will create even MORE zombies, forcing the majority of the population to live in fear and behind fences in order to keep us safe from the hoard . . . .

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5. We will discover most of what we think we know about zombies is not really true . . .

“And that myth about the zombies being afraid of fire? That’s stupid. They can’t think or feel. They’re not afraid of anything.”

6. And finally we will eventually come to realize that although zombies are extremely interested in nom-nomming on the living, they used to be our family members or friends so we will be faced with the moral dilemma of whether or not to treat them humanely . . .

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I loved this book. For a second I had doubts and thought it was going to go down the slippery slope to Shitville with an instalove story, but it quickly redeemed itself and remained great. I loved this so much it’s getting shelved as “YA for Grown-Ups” because I think some of the nuances of the plot wouldn’t be fully appreciated by the younger set (a/k/a my own kid). Most surprising of all, I loved this one so much I want to read the second book in the series (and I NEVER want to read the second book in the series). Hey, I gotta find out what really goes down in Gameland, right?!?!?!?!

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Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,630 followers
July 29, 2011
I have been on a zombie reading frenzy lately – I see a zombie book and I must read it, I can’t help myself. And the books are coming fast and furious, especially in the YA area. Some are good, some are awful, and some are outstanding. Jonathan Maberry’s Rot and Ruin falls somewhere just shy of outstanding. It reeks of EPIC WIN.

So yeah, I love this book and before I go all fangirl over Tom Imura and squee my head off let me highlight why you should start this series:

1) It is very well-written -- that’s not always a given, even from talented authors -- see my review of David Moody’s Autumn: The City. Moody is the man, but even he can write a zombie novel that sucks. Maberry has already established his reputation in the horror genre (his Ghost Road Blues snagged him a Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel). This is his YA debut and I’m impressed to say the least.

2) It is a highly charged, emotional story where some heavy shit goes down and you really fucking care who it’s happening to. This comes back to the all-important character development. I don’t scare if I don’t care, and I cared plenty here (even about the zombies!!!) Through the eyes of 15 yr old Benny Imura, we come to understand that zombies are not just mindless monsters out to gouge and consume humans. We see the tragedy of what they’ve become. Benny’s older brother Tom forces him to confront who they used to be:
Look at that woman. She was, what? Eighteen years old when she died. Might have been pretty. Those rags she’s wearing might have been a waitress’s uniform once….She had people at home who loved her….People who worried when she was late getting home.
So the zombies are not just plot devices or mere window dressing here; they serve a real purpose and are an important part of the story.

3) It’s a fascinating examination of what fear does to people. Just imagine a world that survives an actual zombie apocalypse. As groups of survivors ban together in fenced enclaves to try and eke out a semi-normal existence, who will these people become? How will they interact with each other, with the world that’s left to them? I know it’s a personal bias of mine, but I figure a zombie novel hasn’t done its job if it doesn’t convincingly show that humans can be the real monsters. Maberry hits that out of the park and I want to smooch him for it.
They held each other and wept as the night closed its fist around their tiny shelter, and the world below them seethed with killers both living and dead.
4) Tom Imura – squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited over a character from a book and reading as much YA as I do, most male protagonists are still battling hormones and attitude. But not Tom. Tom is in his 30s. He is a survivor. He is a specialist. He has been forged in battle and now is as strong and unbending as his katana - (no, not that! ... the Japanese long sword he uses). In a world that's been plunged into Hell and lived to tell about it Tom has retained his humanity. He is deep and soulful and will kick your ass in 2 seconds flat. He’s a mix of Master Li Mu Bai from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Morpheus from The Matrix, and my beloved Dean Winchester from Supernatural. How could a girl NOT fall in love?

I was going to put my sober, hyper-critical hat on and give this four stars, but piss on that. For all the reasons described above and more, I'm happy to give this book five, fat fearsome stars.
Profile Image for Morgan F.
512 reviews471 followers
November 20, 2010

I am. I so am. BRING IT

I'm just kidding. When there is a zombie apocalypse (no, not if), I'm about 98% sure I would not survive. I would be like those chicks in horror movies who get killed off in the opening credits. But there is the 2% I do survive initially, and then after that, I have a plan.

I am skilled in no way shape or form. I hate the wilderness and physical activity. I am not a quick thinker and I panic under pressure. So basically, I am screwed unless I find Tom Imura. Tom Imura was one of the main reasons I enjoyed this book. He is basically a calm, sexy zombie-slaying Samurai. My plan is to marry him. I know, I know. How Mary-Suish of me. Well STFU, in retrospect this is for the good of America. This way we can have lots of half-Japanese zombie-killing offspring, and God knows the world needs more of those.

Benny, the MC, is not as good as Tom. He is like a non-sexy, less-Asian bratty version of him. In the beginning of the novel, he was close to insufferable and I wanted to stab him with a katana (This book taught me Japanese!). Think of him as Harry Potter a la Book 5. But he did show growth and development and yada yada yada and by the end of the book he actually resembled a likable human being. But still not as awesome as Tom.

I liked this book, but it was nothing close to fantastic for me. Despite the heavy themes, I was never emotionally invested in it. I disliked the writing, and even though the characters are developed, I never felt an attachment to them. This is entirely personal, however, and thats why I won't make too big of a stink about it.

It was a good zombie book. Not all about the braaaaaiiiiinzzzz. Zombies are people too. Albeit, dead ones.

But still.


It's best to be prepared.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,666 followers
September 3, 2013
Long overdue for this zombie fan, I am finally - finally - reading this series! As you can guess I've been hearing a lot about this award winning author, Jonathan Maberry, and although I'm only on book 2 at the moment, I can already see why it garnered so much popularity (and book 2 is even better so far!).

This novel is set years after the zombies came, so it's not your run of the mill survival of the fittest story happening in the midst of an apocalypse, this one is about what happens after that. After society has somewhat survived. After people have been forced to learn to live with unrelenting fear. After everyone in power is out there shambling away, leaving control to whoever takes it. This is the post apocalypse, ladies and gentlemen, it's violent, it's merciless, and the only way to fight for what's right is to go and do it yourself! This is basically the gist of what this series is about. With that said, don't expect constant flesh eating action. We're after something that is much more cruel than zombies - the latter having more or less settled down on a now barely inhabited earth. They remain a constant threat for sure, and the fear is looming in the background at all times, but it's not a continuous bloodbath like your average zombie horror flick. Although we do get some intensely kick ass zombie scenes that will get your adrenaline pumping once or twice. Learning about these zombies, the world building as a whole, kept me engrossed as much as any action sequence. I loved all the theories behind the zombies themselves which, if explored further, has the potential to become very interesting. Plus the details we do have so far - how they act, what they can/can't do (how sometimes they do turn doorknobs, etc) - are so well thought up. Very realistic; very eerie.

The main character, Benny, I admit, was not my favorite at the beginning. He came off as an annoying brat, and oblivious one time too many, but when he goes off into the Rot and Ruin with his brother - aka in the real world - he grows up fast. We see this teenage boy learn the horrors that lay beyond the fence, and, in turn, the change in behavior this elicits. It's impressive character growth. In the end he's still a teenager at heart and with harsh cracks in his soul, but he's a brave young man that I came to admire. As for Tom, he's the bigger, stronger, more intelligent big brother who plays a big role in this story. What I loved the most about him was how much of a survivor he was, while keeping his moral values in check - not always easy in this world! Plus he never gives up on his little brother regardless of Benny's grudge against him. There is one other character who comes into play who fascinated me from the start. I'm very curious to see where this character will lead us. Just the oddity of their mental/social development in itself is especially intriguing.

One thing I didn't feel in this book was the romance. Benny kept saying that he didn't feel "that way" about Nix, then a romance sprouts out of nowhere between them, lacking both buildup and emotional connection. You can't even blame it on a bond built from surviving together through extreme life and death situations because they're apart most of the book, until they're suddenly making out. I just didn't understand where it came from.

I can already say that Rot and Ruin is only just the beginning of what promises to be an excellent, hectic series. Like all great zombie stories, it' a very character oriented, well built world filled with villains who are even worse than the flesh eating monsters who started it all!


For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for carol..
1,627 reviews8,864 followers
July 22, 2012

I know, zombies, right? So passe, so early century, so urban fiction--so yawn for so many people. The genre is erroneously underrated; the best zombie and apocalypse fiction is about wrestling with humanity, ethics and survival, with some hair-raising action to leaven the philosophy. At worst, they're Cracker Jacks, caramel popcorn fun with a prize at the end. I love me some apocalypse fiction, and when Trudi recommended this series, I knew I had to give it a go.

It opens in a small town of 28 thousand, with fifteen year-old Benny and his best friend Lou Chong forced to look for jobs, the bane of countless teenagers during countless summers. Only, if they don't find a job, food rations will be decreased by half, and we all know how teens like to eat. Benny lives with his half-brother Tom in a gated community, only this particularly community is gated to keep the zombies out. Benny has been carrying a grudge against Tom since the day of the Fall, fourteen years ago. He has a memory of Tom carrying him, racing away from the arms of his mom and leaving her to their father, who was already a zombie. Since then, Tom has spent years raising and protecting him, now working as a zombie-quieter. Benny truly doesn't understand his brother's expertise and philosophy, instead admiring the town bounty-hunter thugs who brag about number of kills and scavenged riches. To absolutely no one's surprise, Benny fails as all the jobs he tries and resigns himself to apprenticing with Tom. Tom takes him outside the fence, and Benny finds many of his beliefs and emotions challenged. They return to town, more stuff happens, and Benny has to do some fast growing up as they race against time to save ---

The expositional process of going through different jobs is a novel and clever one, introducing the reader to various roles and norms within the community. The locksmiths repair locks so people can be locked in at night (in case they die of natural causes), and erosion artists act like police sketch artists for those missing family and friends. There isn't too much that is unique in the town setting or in society's reaction to the Fall, except for a religious faction that blames the zombies on technology. Religion plays another role outside the fence when Benny meets the zombie sympathizers. Mentality and technology have an 1800s Western feel, with bounty hunters and traders being the few willing to set foot outside of town.

I lacked patience for early Benny; he's such a teenager, but of course, that's so he can grow exponentially by the book's finish. Characterization was done well; developed so that we had a feel for their complexities and motivations. Teenage dialogue, slacking and angst was believable. Zombies were standard for the genre. Writing was competent, with enough variety in structure and word choice to remain interesting, even if it didn't lead me to marvel over its beauty. There's a twisty ending, one part that we could see coming, another twist we couldn't, and it lends an emotional gravity to the book.

Three and a half stars on the GR scale of enjoyment, rounding up because 1) I feel like it, and 2) I recognize my enjoyment in the first part was slightly compromised by the idiot naive teen angle that left me wanting to slap Benny. But that's me and teenagers, and probably a mark of how well Maberry creates characters.
Profile Image for Kyle.
168 reviews60 followers
December 3, 2017

WOW! Talk about an excellent read!

It only took the first two or three chapters to find me deeply immersed in this novel. The story surrounds Benny, a fifteen-year-old, growing up in a zombie-infested world and is basically his coming of age story.

I couldn't help but become attached to the characters in this book. Benny and his brother Tom, Benny's girlfriend but "not the girlfriend," Nix. There is her competition, the Wild Girl. Finally, there are Benny's heroes Charlie Pink-eye and the Hammer. Even though you don't get much backstory on anyone other than Benny and Tom, they still end up being very real and developed characters.

The plot, although not super exciting at first, kept my interest for the entire length of the novel. I looked forward to when I could pick the book up and read for a few minutes and hated to put it down. I became completed invested in Benny and his life.

Unlike so many other series I've read recently, this was a complete story and not a cliff-hanger that makes you read the next book to see how it ends. It built up to a wonderful and satisfying conclusion but still managed to include enough to lead you to into a sequel. I have to admit the whole process was done quite skillfully. Bravo Johnathan!

I'm very much looking forward to reading the second book in the series and highly recommend Rot & Ruin!

Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,662 reviews6,361 followers
January 25, 2014
The ratings from my friends on this book are all over the place. Some loved it-some hated it. I almost took it back to the library without reading it because of that. Glad I gave it a go.
Benny is a typical teenager in the beginning of this book. I didn't like his smart little butt and spent most of the time wanting to smack some sense into his head. Honestly, he kind reminds me of Carl from the Walking Dead. I couldn't stand that kid in the beginning of the series and half the time now I want to knock him one. He has started to come into his own now though and sometimes I see a spark of what he could become.
Benny has to find a job or his food rations will be cut. (They live in a town that everyone has to have a job in order to eat) He goes through several jobs just slacking off hoping to find something easy to do. He finally ends up going out into the "Ruin" with his older brother Tom as an apprentice to bounty hunting zombies. Tom is half asian and badass with a sword. (He kinda reminds me of Glenn from Walking dead) He is thought of by his brother as a coward and no where as cool as the other bounty hunters that brag about their kills.
Out in the Ruin this book came alive for me. I flipping loved it. There are always questions in this type of story about who the bad guys are? Is it the living? Who want power? Is it the zoms? Who only need to feed?
I couldn't put this book down. I will be stalking down the sequels to this story-I need to know if it stays this good or fizzles.
Profile Image for Mr. Matt.
288 reviews91 followers
August 30, 2015
There are many stories about the outbreak of the impending zombie apocalypse. Tales of those first, terrible days when the horror of the outbreak strikes home. Rot and Ruin, in a pleasant surprise, breaks the mold on zombie stories. It picks up the story fifteen or so years after that first night. The initial chaos is gone. Humanity has figured out how to deal with the undead. They are slow. They are stupid. They are clumsy. While still a terrible threat, they are manageable.

It is in this setting that the story of Benny Imura unfolds. Benny is a fifteen year old kid who is trying to find his place in the fenced in town of Mountainside. Like all kids, at fifteen he must find gainful employment or his rations will be cut. Benny bounces from one to the other before discovering that he has no other alternative than to apprentice with his brother, Tom. Benny can't stand his brother because all he remembers is that his brother ran with him, leaving his mother to his already zombified father.

Tom is a bit of a bounty hunter. A man who brings closure to families by putting their undead loved ones to rest. And this is where the author separates himself from the other zombie apocalypse books out there. Tom teaches his brother that the zombies are more than the shambling undead. They were people once. They had lives and hopes and dreams. They had families. Tom humanizes the undead. And it is effective. Because they are so slow and so stupid and so clumsy, I felt sorry for them. They have no chance against humans who know what they are doing.

Folded over this whole story is a mystery - the mystery of the Lost Girl. On First Night, one of the residents of Mountainside helped a little girl and her sister escape the undead. Benny catches wind of the story and begins digging into it. It turns out that his brother has seen and even spoken to the Lost Girl. Who is she? Why won't she come into town? and why is she killing men? This mystery and the story of the Lost Girl set this book apart. Yes, the living are the real enemy and the undead are simply a danger to be endured - like a storm - but Rot and Ruin takes a new turn on this overdone story line. The story is the mystery - not the overdone story line.

In the end, just a great story - a great story for kids or adults. Four and a half stars rounded down to four. There were a few niggling things that detracted from the whole for me. First, the story started slowly. I did not truly immerse myself into the story until maybe a third of the way in. Next, there were more than a couple of points where I just said "come on!" to myself. There is no way that a certain character wielding a sword could survive certain things. These negatives, however, shouldn't detract from what is a pretty darn good little story. Highly recommend.

Profile Image for Shannon.
3,104 reviews2,524 followers
December 31, 2015
I'm not anti-zombie in any way, shape, or form, but I tend to only read/watch stuff with zombies when I'm really in the mood for them.

Twice has sort of reignited my ... er ... hunger? for them?

I seriously loved how this author didn't just rehash other zombie stories and instead made it undeniably his own. I also enjoyed that he didn't sugar-coat anything; there's lots of gory parts in this book.

I liked the setting, the philosophical parts, the characters, and the plot ... so that's a win. Only thing I can nitpick is how the heroes kept falling for the villains traps, but, I kind of liked that the heroes didn't just run through the gauntlet of this story with no obstacles in the way. Another nitpick is the blatant foreshadowing that SOMETHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN ... but it's not like I haven't seen that before (kind of reminds me of Goosebumps books, to be honest.) I never really felt like I was being hit over the head with a foreshadowing hammer over and over though. It's not subtle, no, but it does make you want to read on to see what's going to happen next.

This is seriously a great start and honestly I'm already reading the next book and this is the perfect time of year to start this sort of book.
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews383 followers
May 23, 2012
Is the zombie apocalypse close at hand?

Are zombies the new vampire? Both are undead. Both bite. Unfortunately, zombies have gotten the short end of the stick. Zombies are not glamorous. They are not sexy or sparkly either. Zombies are just ….well ewww.

I must preface this review with the fact that I usually don’t like zombies. I don’t go out of my way to read about zombies, or watch *shudder* zombie movies. I get squeamish at the sight of blood and gore.

Rot & Ruin is a great read. Aimed at the young adult market, I can certainly see my 14 year old son getting a kick out of this book. I loved its underlying theme: zombies are just like people except they’re dead (and they may want to bite you). I despaired at the world of Rot & Ruin, a world of abandoned technology and zombies.

Rot & Ruin is the story of Benny Imura and his legendary brother Tommy. Benny barely remembers First Night, the night the zombies took over. Benny is just your average 15 year old boy who must find a job in order to keep receiving his food rations. The job market in the zombie post apocalypse sucks, probably worse than today’s job market. Benny tries some truly horrid jobs, but never lasts. He finally takes the last possible job – his brother’s apprentice. Tommy is a heroic zombie hunter and well known throughout their world. I really liked how Benny’s view of Tommy changes significantly during the book and how Tommy allows this change of attitude little by little.

I loved how Benny is portrayed as just a regular teenager, with teenage angst and issues. Benny’s friends are also very entertaining. I loved Morgie and Chong and enjoyed reading about their job hunting woes. Nix was another interesting character and I loved how all the boys wanted to date her. I was intrigued by the Lost Girl Lilah. For a girl who grew up on her own, she was fierce, lethal and very resourceful. The bad guys in this book are especially heinous. Charlie Pink-Eye and Motor City Hammer are very unscrupulous zombie hunters.

I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to the next installment of Benny and Tommy Imura’s story.

Guest post on Paranormal Wastelands

Update 1/15/12 - Prequel to this story is posted on this link. Click on the banner that says Bonus Material (in the middle of the page).

Update 5/23/12 - Rot & Ruin is now on the Badass Book Reviews' Best Badass Zombie Books List. Check it out!
Profile Image for Lisa Mandina.
2,033 reviews484 followers
October 2, 2011
I had been wanting to read this book for a long time. The whole zombie book trend has really hooked me I think. And this book did not disappoint. In fact, you'll notice I gave it 5 stars, and lately, even books that have been really good have only gotten a 4 from me. But I felt this was really different, had something new. Not sure exactly what I'd say was "new", but I did really enjoy this.

I didn't start out with the description of the book thinking that it would be this good though. This is a boy main character, and in this future world, when you reach a certain age, you must get a job or you don't get as many rations. In a way, the ration part, reminds me a bit of The Dead-Tossed Waves. Because one of the characters in that lost his sister because he was looking to get her money to live on by joining an army. And it was a zombie book. But going on, Rot & Ruin started out with the main character hitting the age and going to look for a job. The different jobs that were available were pretty interesting. Looking at pictures of lost loved ones and trying to predict how they would now look as a zombie. Checking the fences around the town to make sure they were strong enough to keep the zombies out. Working in a factory to squeeze the "juice" out of the dead zombies to make "cadaverine", a scent used for those who went out to hunt the zombies. Staying in the lookout towers to keep an eye on the zombies, the job his friend Chong gets. And finally, the job his brother has, zombie hunter. After either not being qualified for some of the jobs, or not wanting the others, Benny ends up working with his brother Tom.
Benny does not respect his brother. His first memory is of his mother handing him to his brother, and telling him to run as his father was attacking them as a zombie. And Benny cannot believe his brother left his mother to die. So now Benny cannot believe the big tough reputation his brother has as a zombie killer.
I thought this would be just a book about a boy learning how to hunt zombies and coming to respect his brother through that. But it was more. Learning to realize that the zombies weren't evil, they were just a disease that had taken over the bodies. The main story being that just normal people were really the ones that could be evil. The family stories, the "First Night" stories, I just felt all of it was really good. I can't wait to read the 2nd book in the series. Of course it will have to wait till I finish reading the books for Gateway nominee list, but it will be probably in December.
Profile Image for Lou.
880 reviews906 followers
October 23, 2018
This story is about two brothers, The Imura brothers, Tom the bounty hunter and Benny the not so yet bounty hunter. Benny since First Night, the time when the Zombie outbreak began has not yet killed, has now come to the stage in his life where he's going to have to make some big decisions. Will he embrace the path of a bounty hunter like his brother or not? What sets Benny on a stepping-stone to his chosen destiny is the search for one girl, that he becomes besotted with.

Forget the tag of 'Young Adults fiction' as the only thing you are going to miss is unwanted foul language and sex scenes. This story gets to the meat and bone of what is a really good thriller about zombie hunters, many of today's fiction that i have read for the Young Adult genre have cheesy one liners and cliché scenes, in this one gem you would not find this. Maberry takes you straight to the heart of the story and the action of the moment in this flowing and page-turning story. This has the makings of a TV series, similar to ‘Supernatural' where you also have two brothers who hunt out demons and ghosts instead.
There is something more worse out there than zombies, more of an enemy for the Imura brothers, this enemy is killing off family members. A few of these bounty hunters, evil individuals have started something called the Gameland and are taking everyone down without rules.

With really good locations like 'The Hungry Forest' the author has created an interesting and engaging story. All I need now is to buy myself one of those Zombie cards from the story, they are like picture cards on the front of each was a portrait of a famous bounty hunter. On the back was a sort bio and the name of the artist. The next book in the series has all the makings of something even better!.

"Out here-I kill. Walkers, bad men. I kill and I live. I'm safe here"

"Cadaverine was a nasty-smelling molecule produced by protein hydrolysis during putrefaction of animal tissue. Benny remembered that from science class, but he didn't know that it was made from actual rotting flesh. Hunters and trackers dabbed it on their clothes to keep the zoms from coming after them, because the dead were not attracted to rotting flesh."

"The pair of them-Charlie and the Hammer-were the toughest bounty hunters in the entire Rot and Ruin. Everyone said so. Except for a few weirdoes, like Mayr Kirsch, who said that Tom Imura was tougher."

"Most of the hunters were paid by the town to clear zoms out of the areas around the trade route that linked Mountainside o the handful of other towns strung out along the mountain range. Others worked in packs as mercenary armies to clear out towns, old shopping malls, warehouses, and even a few small cities, so that the traders could raid them for supplies. According to Charlie the life expectancy of a typical bounty hunter was six months."

" 'Quieted' was the acceptable term for the necessary act of inserting a metal spike, called a 'silver', into the base of the skull to sever the brain stem. Since First Night, anyone who died would reanimate as a zombie. Bites made it happen too, but really any recently deceased person would come back. Every adult in town carried at least one silver, though Benny had never seen one used."

"Every dead person out there deserves respect. Even in death. Even when we fear them. Even when we have to kill them. They aren't 'just zoms,' Benny. That's a side effect of a disease or from some kind of radiation or something else that we don't understand. I'm no scientist, Benny. I'm a simple man doing a job." "Yeah? You're trying to sound all noble, but you kill them." Benny had tears in his eyes.

" The world is bigger and harder to understand than you think, Benny. It was before First Nigh and it still is now. You have to keep your mind as wide-open as your eyes, because almost nothing is what it seems."

"She may answer to the name Lilah or Annie. Approach with caution, she is considered dangerous and may suffer from post traumatic stress disorder."

Profile Image for Olethros.
2,673 reviews493 followers
November 12, 2021
-Otra forma de acercarse al posapocalipsis zombi, o más bien otras sensibilidades puntuales para hacerlo.-

Género. Narrativa fantástica.

Lo que nos cuenta. El libro Ruina y putrefacción (publicación original: Rot & Ruin, 2010) nos presenta a Benny Imura, un joven adolescente que debe empezar a trabajar en algo para no ver comprometidas las raciones correspondientes en el asentamiento de Mountainside. A pesar de no querer ser un cazador de zombis como su hermano Tom, con quien tiene una relación cordial y fría a la vez, será su aprendiz y descubrirá muchas cosas sobre él, su hermano, la vida y, de paso, sobre los zombis. Primer libro de la serie Ruina y putrefacción.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Profile Image for Mariel.
667 reviews1,125 followers
May 21, 2011
I don't really have anything new to add about Rot & Ruin other than throwing in my voice to chime with the naysayers in a bored "Nay!" I may even be lip synching. I'm not feeling the effort at all.
Imagine the most stereotypical response of a fifteen year old boy and apply that to any points the zombie killing concept/teenaged boy living in a post apocalyptic world can dredge up and that's your book. Stir in a dash of "I should have cared all along!" and generic teen friendships story. Add a pinch of romance. Yawn. To continue with my lame-o cooking analogy, none of the ingredients had any flavor.
Sorry for the uninspired review. This book didn't inspire much of anything in me. I blame Rot & Ruin! Will this mediocrity never cease?
Profile Image for Lucy.
102 reviews1,838 followers
December 11, 2010
To say I am a fan of zombie books and films would be putting it mildly. As a small child in church, I'd sit on the kneeler and watch people going up for communion and imagine who I would want in my post-zombie village.

Another fact you should know: I read half of Jonathan Maberry's Patient Zero and I just wasn't into it. I kept putting it down and stopped picking it up, not because it was bad, but because I didn't really care about what happened next. I remember finding the dialogue awkward and unnatural, especially when the author was going through FBI measures, but I can't say for sure without a re-read. However, Rot & Ruin, on the other hand, I read in a single day.

Writing caliber wasn't my problem with Maberry's first novel. He does write well. He has a good pace and rhythm, makes excellent word choices and, at least in Rot & Ruin, his dialogue rarely felt stilted or false. He has a lot of talent and I can see he's still polishing it into something particularly remarkable. Rot & Ruin captivated me so much I might even give Patient Zero another shot, although I'll have to buy a second copy since I gave away my first. I will, however, be keeping my copy of Rot & Ruin.

The story was pretty original, the lead character's voice strong and clear, and the minor characters were charming. I'm a fan of Sarah Rees Brennan's Demon Lexicon because in a sea of YA fiction about unhealthy supernatural romance Brennan wrote about a family, about love and sacrifice. Rot & Ruin had similar wonderful markers. The important relationship was between the two brothers, while the rest of the story circled around them in perfectly timed movements.

Some zombie novels suffer from having the zombies be a distant, obscure part of the universe that you rarely see. Other zombie novels are annoying, non-stop action with little character development. Rot & Ruin had an excellent balance of both along with some original plot lines and world building. The only turn off was the elder brother, Tom, went over the top with the lectures way too often. It was when my attention was most likely to stray. I'd recommend the book for anyone ages 12 and up. Some violence would make me hesitate over handing it to anyone younger.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,604 reviews10.8k followers
April 8, 2013
I loved this Zombie book. It is totally different from what I have read before. I have already ordered the second one. The first one just sets everything up for more to come. Wonderful characters, each with their own hurts that have made them stronger. This is a great read for Zombie fans!
Profile Image for Janina.
215 reviews548 followers
November 7, 2010
Rot & Ruin was the first zombie book I ever read and judging by how much I liked it, I think it won't be the last (recommendations are welcome; I'm not exactly an expert). I would categorize it as middle grade, though, so if you're looking for a 'hard-core' ;) zombie book, you might want to look elsewhere.

First of all, I really like the makeup of this book: We have an eye-catching – and slightly creepy cover – and then on the inside we have some 'zombie-cards' (the kids in the story collect them) of famous people and a 'zombified' author portrait. Laughed out loud at some of this stuff. And the best: The book's interior – the story – can actually keep up with that. Too many other books with awesome covers disappointed lately.

About the story:
The US in the near future: most of the country has been deserted; people live together in small towns behind huge fences, shielding themselves against millions of zombies. Benny Imura lives in Mountainside, together with his half brother Tom, a zombie hunter, after his parents were killed and resurrected as zombies on First Night – the night the dead began to rise and threw the whole world into chaos.
Although he believes his older brother to be a coward and their relationship isn't exactly a good one, Benny joins the 'family business' and begins to hunt zombies together with Tom. Soon he has to learn that the dead aren't the real evil out there.

Despite the fact that this novel is clearly plot driven and includes a fair amount of violence and gore, it also has its quiet moments and there were even a few scenes that made me get a little teary-eyed. This novel is about so much more than 'going out killing zombies' – it focuses just as strongly on relationships of all kinds. At the centre of attention is Benny’s development after his first trip out into the Ruin: to be honest, he comes across as quite a pain-in-the-ass in the beginning, though he clearly has a good heart. But when his friend Nix is in danger, he is forced to mature quickly, sheds his know-it-all attitude towards his older brother and does everything possible to help those close to him.

I loved how the relationship between Benny and Tom developed, how Benny slowly began to realise what was behind his brother's mask of indifference and started to admire the way he did his job. Their relationship is what keeps this story going. The occasional banter between them was fun, and their 'bonding moments' were moving.

Also, hats off to Jonathan Maberry for writing two female characters who clearly own this story. Both of the girls are resourceful and strong in their own way, they don't need any rescuing and are perfectly able to make – and defend – their own choices. I would really like to see more girls of this type in all genres.

And most of all, I appreciated that all these characters dealt with traumatic experiences as I would expect real people to do. They suffered and didn’t move on quickly after a few moments of sadness and anger. They carried those experiences with them, and they have changed their ways of behaviour and altered their personalities.

Although this novel clearly has its own ending and could be read as a stand-alone (no mean cliff-hanger here), there clearly is the potential for a sequel. Will be checking out Dust and Decay (which is just a great title, by the way)!
Profile Image for Sv.
323 reviews107 followers
June 2, 2015
Çürük ve Harabe çok sevdiğim bir kitap. Devamı gelmeyecek diye çok üzülüyordum ama gelecekmiş, mutlulaştım. Bir seneden fazla oldu okuyalı ama yorum şeyettirmeye çalıştım, sırf daha çok okunsun, tanınsın, yazık olmasın diye - eminim bu posttan sonra kitabın satışları patlar zaten :P- bir katkım olsun istedim falan.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
352 reviews9 followers
May 20, 2011
Loved this! It was zombie killers a la Clint Eastwood. There was a western flavor to this that I really liked.

Benny Imura is fifteen years old and looking for a job. His older brother Tom is a bounty hunter but Benny can't stand the idea of working with him because Tom is a coward. What kind of "man" would run away from his parents and not try to save them from the zombie horde? But that's just what Tom did, taking his infant brother Benny with him.

Now, fourteen years later, they live in the relative safety of Mountainside but Benny is far from happy especially because town law says that at fifteen his food rations are to be cut off unless he can find a job. Jobs being hard to come by, Benny's hand is forced and he agrees to become Tom's apprentice. For Benny's first day on the job Tom takes him out into the "Rot & Ruin", the world beyond the high fences of Mountainside. This is where Tom does his work. His bounties are zombies and his clients are the family members of these former humans. He calls himself a "Closure Specialist", giving relief to these poor zombies and their families by quieting them for good. But there are other bounty hunters out there in the Rot & Ruin, ones with a far less noble purpose. When Benny comes face to face with what they are up to he is horrified. But this knowledge also brings Benny and his friends and familiy into danger and circumstances bring him out in the Rot & Ruin to try to stop these evil bounty hunters.

Wow, this was a fun a book! I hope this going to be a series. (Please, Mr. Maberry?)
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,386 reviews1,094 followers
November 15, 2015
2.5 stars

Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!

I’ve read several zombie books in the recent months. Because of this I know that it’s important for the author to come up with some original aspect to centralize their story around. I don’t feel that this book did it… what this book felt like to me was a typical YA story with zombies thrown in as an after-thought.

Rot & Ruin’s ‘original aspect’ focused on a group of people trying to change the world to make people see and understand that zombies don’t have any control over their actions and that they were once people and should be treated as such.

The society 14 years after ‘First Night’ is a far cry from the world today. People have developed a rut to the point where they have no desire to attempt taking back their world so they survive by living locked inside a chain link fence living in cabins and surviving without electricity. How zombies came to be is never explained either, which, I missed because I always love a good explanation for their existence. Even people who die of natural causes come back as zombies. But even after all this time, these people have chosen to live a stagnant life of monotony rather than attempt to grow and develop as a people and overcome the zombies. This line pretty much sums it up:

”Electronics and complex machines were no longer allowed in town, because of a strong religious movement that associated that kind of power with the “Godless behavior” that had brought about “the end.””

The Imura brothers, Tom and Benny, are in the zombie killing business… or more appropriately, they are in business to bring families peace of mind. Rather than just going out and mindlessly slaying zombies to be rid of them, they are hired by families to locate their zombiefied family members and kill them so that they can rest assured that they are no longer the walking dead going around munching on people. Num num.
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No, there weren’t kitten zombies in this book (I’m just a sucker for cute cat pictures) but in my zombie world there totally would be.

There were a few other interesting tidbits to this story, like, “Gameland”. So apparently some really sick and twisted humans that were often described as being worse than the zombies (because the zombies of course don’t know what they’re doing and should be excused because they’ve got a bad case of the munchies) like to capture up small children and force them to fight against zombies. We never see Gameland, we just hear about it…. So that storyline kinda fell flat.

There was also the story about the “Lost Girl”. The girl who’s survived on her own for years. Benny first learns about her when he gets her ‘card’ in the latest batch of zombie cards. Yes, zombie cards. Much like your normal baseball cards, but with celebrity zombies, bounty hunters, etc. So yes, Benny gets the “Lost Girl” card and is immediately infatuated with her. It suddenly becomes his desire to find her, save her, and keep her from danger. Aw, here comes her knight in shining armor.

But the only thing I can think of is, here’s this 15 year old kid who just started training to be a zombie hunter less than week ago and he feels it’s his mission in life to now save this total bad ass Xena type zombie killing machine who’s been surviving on her own in the Rot & Ruin for YEARS… and Benny plans on saving her. With his wooden sword. Right.

By the time the ending came around I was truly bored. I think the complete predictability of the book had something to do with it but this story just lacked in overall excitement for me.
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews158 followers
September 29, 2010
There are moments that define a person's whole life. Moments in which everything they are and everything they may possibly become balance on a single decision. Life and death, hope and despair, victory and failure teeter precariously on the decision made at that moment. These are moments ungoverned by happenstance, untroubled by luck. These are the moments in which a person earns the right to live, or not.

Inspiring? Moving? Emotional? These are just some of the words I didn't expect to express reading a book about Zombies, and yet it's exactly what I found.

Riot & Ruin starts the story off with a boy named Benny Imura who's 15th birthday looms near. This means he has to find a job or he'll loss his food rations. He doesn't want to work with his brother,Tom, the oh-so famous bounty hunter, but with very little choice Benny agrees to be Tom's apprentice.
Watch and learn as Benny gets the wake-up call of his life and gets a taste of what his world is real all about as well as learns who his brother real is, as Tom shows him that there are far more meaner and crueler monsters out there then the deformed infested Zombie's that has changed there lives...

To be perfectly honest I had absolutely no intentions to even read this book. For one, I'm not a big fan of Zombie genre and for another, that cover, well, scares the hell of me. But I saw this book at my store and thumbed through it, a few quotes caught my eye, my curiosity peeked I took a chance. I am so glad I did. Rot & Ruin is probably the best Zombie book I have ever read.

True to form this is a book filled with the undead Zombies that seek flesh for there flavor but I didn't find it overly graphic or gruesome. I think maybe because it wasn't overpowering with them, more like around them. There were some cringe worthy moments though that I thought were pretty wicked.
The storyline really surprised me since it's more plot driven then anything else and it was so much more to it then see-zombie, kill-zombie, run-zombie, which I'm ashamed to admit is what I was actually expecting.
Jonathan Maberry inspires the concept of life and death with right and wrongs by putting his characters through a journey of self discovery, survival and growth.
The writing is strong and well crafted, walking us through memories of First Night, the tiny town of Mountainside and over the fence to the Rot & Ruins giving us a clear cut path to the people infected, affected, and the stories that are burned into there very souls.

The Imura brothers, Tom and Benny, are fantastic character that had me captivated through out the entire book.
Benny is naive and young but he has a good heart and when leaded in the right directions shows maturity, courage and strength. I was very proud of him.
Tom? I love Tom. He's the kind of guy that has your back and he'd be my first pick if I was every faced with a bunch of the undead coming at me. His 101-Yoda-like teachings is impressive and thought provoking. He's kick ass, compassionate, cleaver and has some great wit.

I don't want to say to much about the actual plot since I want others to experience it first hand, but bottom line, I just loved this book! It has some great brotherly moments that made me cry, all the characters are well developed, even the bad guys, and the writing is completely hypnotizing. Oh, and I just loved the zombie card art, that was a great touch!
I don't know if this is a stand-alone, but you wouldn't hear me complaining if we get a sequel;)

An Amazing Read!
Profile Image for Beatrice.
1,157 reviews1,713 followers
June 8, 2017
Zombie novels aren't my cup of tea. Preferrably, I enjoy watching movies or playing video games with zombies in it because of the thrill and jump scares. Rot & Ruin is a pleasant surprise. This book has been sitting on my shelves for years and I made a right decision picking it up. It's a refreshing and meaningful dystopia story. It's not just about survival and killing the living dead as Jonathan Maberry digs deeper than that.

Our protagonist is a 15 year old boy, Benny Imura . At first he gets on my nerves because he's whiny, immature and sarcastic. He lives with his older brother, Tom Imura. He and Tom aren't close and somewhat mad at him for not saving their parents' lives during the first outbreak. Tom is a bounty/zombie hunter and since Benny couldn't find a job he wants, he introduced him to their family business.

Tom is a strong, humble and compassionate man who values humanity. Unlike other bounty hunters, he doesn't blast off zombie brains or kill them in a grotesque manner. He's a Grim Reaper but a gentle one. He showed Benny how he ends the zombies, paying respects in behalf of his clients and talked sense in him. He made him realize that zombies were once humans and should be respected too. Seriously, I love Tom Imura! HANDS. DOWN.

After his exposure beyond the fence filled with zombies, Benny improved a lot. He becomes open-minded and more mature. In the end, I grew to love him just like Tom (but I love Tom more haha!). I'm glad the Imura brothers worked out their issues and I'm looking forward reading their upcoming journey.
Profile Image for Megan.
419 reviews390 followers
August 23, 2011
It would be nice to think that this is simply a reflection of my reading tastes being very different from Jonathan Maberry's writing style. After all, I despised Patient Zero when so many people loved that book. And here again, I very strongly dislike Rot & Ruin. But is it really just me?

Maberry is the king of telling, not showing. One dimensional characters who seem so cliched. Even the zombie attacks couldn't make this more enjoyable. It was a chore to finish this and no matter how cool the title or cover, no matter what my GR friends say... I'll never read Maberry again. Lots of people liked this book, but I can't recommend it for anyone. There are much better zombie books out there. The Reapers Are the Angels, Warm Bodies even The Forest of Hands and Teeth are so much better than this one.
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews705 followers
January 25, 2011
Benny Imura has a couple of days till turning fifteen. Fifteen year olds in his post apocalyptic world are expected to contribute to society otherwise they find their rations cut in half (Everything I’ve said happens in the first couple of pages.) He also lives with his half brother, Tom Imura, whom he loathes. Why? You’ll just have to read on. Things get really exciting as he looks for a job only to find that the only viable option is to go into the “family business” with Tom who happens to be a zombie hunter (or so I thought.)

Who would have thought that a book about zombies would make me cry? And I did, I cried some. There are three things that I learned from reading this book: a. I will never look at a chilli dog the same way, b. Tom Imura has got to be one of the coolest big brothers ever and c. I love zombie books! This book has totally altered my perception of what zombies are. Yes, they are the mindless, soulless living undead… but they can be helpless too. Mind you, I’d still run like crazy if I were ever to encounter them, but the point is they can be helpless. That’s what Tom taught me. Have I mentioned that I love Tom?

OK. Zombie book, so definitely not heavy reading, but still it did have its moments. Moments of “I didn’t see that coming.” Moments that made me swallow a lump in my throat that came out of nowhere. And moments that were simply hilarious.

I loved his interaction with his friends: Chong, Morgie and Nix were just the right addition to the story, particularly with Chong and Nix. As to Benny? Initially, I really wanted to punch him but some maturity was showing towards the end . Then there’s Tom. I’d write an ode to his greatness except I would not know where to begin.

Profile Image for Yodamom.
2,053 reviews207 followers
February 12, 2019
Zombie fun and games, but the games aren't fun. Excellent zombie tale of truths, lies, mistakes, abuse, control and revenge. There are some men that are just evil, and they aren't zombies.
The dead have control of the world. The living are living in fear, hidden behind walls, willing to just exist to be safe. The past has forever scared them. The new generation, the ones they didn't live through the first night of the zombie rising are itching to know what's out there, or at least the truth of what happened. When a town bully turns deadly, events drive the, out beyond and what they find there will bring on many more questions.
I really enjoyed this zombie tale. It wasn't as gore centered as a few of my other zombie reads are. I don't really notice the characters were so well developed.- Now waiting on book 2
Profile Image for Mauoijenn.
1,131 reviews116 followers
February 21, 2015
I was rather surprised by this one. I had started reading it before I got too sick to even try and read the print in any book, so I came back to this one as it stuck in my mind. I guess that's good news. It was very good. I hope the rest follow in it's path.
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