Book: Rot & Ruin
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN/ASIN: 9781442410343 (galley)
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Rating: 5 Stars (FB’s Top 10 of 2010)
He’s also a two-time Bram Stoker winner which means he writes super-duper fabulous (as you’ll see once you crack the pages of R&R)
Rot & Ruin. Wasteland. Where the zombies roam the environs of a ravaged and forgotten country.
It’s been about fourteen years since First Night when the dead rose. Game Over. Instead of millions, now there are only a few thousand survivors left scattered in encampments. Surviving as best they can. Combating the constant threat of the undead at their doorstep. This is the age in which Benny Imura lives in. And its not as if he likes it.
In the protected enclave of Mountainside, the kids hear one thing behind their protective walls. And another of what is really happening outside. The survivors have little to do with what is outside their walls. They hire a zombie hunter like Benny’s brother Tom to “quiet” their relatives who have succumbed to the contagion and who wander the deserts aimlessly. They are reassured that their loved ones are finally put to rest. But not all the hunters have Tom’s ethics or morality-or his humanity.
In fact, for zombie hunters like Charlie Pink-eye and Motor City Hammer, the dead have become a profitable business-and vicious entertainment. Deep within the mountainous wastes of the Ruin hides a place only whispered about: Gameland. The last stop. Where humans go head-to-head with zombies. And one very tricky girl, The Lost Girl, whose fate was born during First Night is the only human who managed to escape the games-and survive intact.
When Benny’s brother crosses Charlie Pink-eye for the last time, the disturbing truth of what happens outside the walls will come straight to Mountainside’s doorstep. It will lead Benny and Tom on a bloody journey to rescue Nix and others from the grisly fate of Gameland-to confront and deal with the zombie hunters once and for all. On their quest they will scour the desert to find the only one who survived the zombie games: The Lost Girl. With her help, they might actually be able rid the Ruin of its pestilence for good.
Rot & Ruin was thrilling triumph, full of action, gripping conflict, soul-fullness, gore, solemnity, and hope. It is a coming of age piece honed in the ashes of apocalypse. And throughout, page after page it makes you feel slightly discombobulated and indecisive.
Do the survivors embrace or spurn them-these remnants of humanity? Are they theirs to hunt, to maim, to pulverize in the dust to atone for the contagion that took the world away? Will ceaseless vengeance wreak a perpetual cycle stealing the last vestiges of humanity left to those who survived?
Maberry poses these troubling questions pausing on that elemental “?” Who are the real zombies? Is it us or them? It forever alters our view and forges a new perception of what exactly a zombie novel should be: fragmented beauty, scattered hope, humane, bittersweet. Tom and Benny’s journey in the Ruin is much more than a rescue mission. It is potential salvation-for all the survivors that are courageous enough to finally brave the walls and step onto the path less traveled. Perhaps into a new future. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.
And for those who are just plain undecided, be sure to pick up Zombies vs Unicorns (an arc I will be reviewing soon) by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier a searing and fun anthology from some of the best voices out there that answer: which are more HAWT? Who has more butt-kicking capacity? Mmm. Zombiez…
Find out what Karen Kincy thinks of R&R
Find out what Karin’s Book Nook thinks of R&R
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat).