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Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry – Review

‘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.’

Last night, I finished reading Rot and Ruin, the first of a four book series, written by Jonathan Maberry. It was completely unlike anything I had read before, including other zombie post apocalyptic fiction. I had read the blurb online whilst looking for some new reads and wasn’t entirely convinced, but thought I’d give it a go. Honestly, it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. It’s written in the third person, which was done really well without being repetitive with names, which I often find happens in third person books.

The books starts off quite slowly, with the journey of the character Benny who has just turned the age at which he is required to work. It follows his story in a very ordinary manor of going through multiple jobs that he disliked, only to end up working for his brother, which seemed to be the worst option possible, but it was all he had. The story highlights Benny’s hatred for his older brother Tom, their broken relationship as brothers, and Benny’s clear resentment towards Tom stemming from his earliest memory from the first night of the apocalypse. However, as the story continues, and Tom’s story is revealed to both the reader and the character Benny at the same time, and their bond strengthens, becoming a really touching story of family.

The books draws emphasis on the difficulty of trust in a post apocalyptic world and the rarity of loyalty between characters. When Nix is kidnapped, It becomes a truly touching story of two brothers who come together in a race to find the girl whom Benny has grown up with and, though he denies it to himself, is in love with. As the story develops, Maberry allows the reader to learn more of Tom’s past, which was for me, the best parts of the story. Maberry feeds the reader with information piece by piece throughout the book, often ending the scene leaving you craving more, with a need to read on to find out what happens next!

The books truly exceeded my expectations by far. The zombies aren’t really the true monsters in this book. Bounty hunters that lurk in the rot and ruin can be truly evil. The idea of Gameland and the thought of them rounding up innocent children to play in the sick and twisted games thought up by the bounty hunters is horrific. Maberry has a way of making the reader easily hate these characters and hope for their ultimate demises.

Rot and ruin is a perfect mixture of comedy, horror and mystery, making it a huge page turner that I just couldn’t put down.