Book review – Rot and Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry

Posted: February 20, 2013 in Book reviews
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Rot and Ruin  This is another book that I picked up to read as part of the Zombie Book of the Month Club on Facebook. Everything that have selected as the book of the month has been great so I knew it would be a goodie.

It’s a YA (Young Adult) book but don’t let that put you off. If you’re into your post-apocalyptic fiction you’ll have no doubt read other YA books and really loved them. Think of His Dark Materials, The Hunger Games, Chaos Walking (The Ask and the Answer), Warm Bodies,  or even Delirium. Fantastic books that are written for a younger audience, but still pack a punch that an adult will enjoy.

Well, the first book, Rot and Ruin, was the book of the month, but as soon as I read it I had to download the next book, and then the next book, and so on. you know what I mean! Once I start a series, I have to finish it.

Here’s the list of the books:

  • Rot and Ruin
  • Dust and Decay
  • Dead and Gone (a shorter story, introducing a new character)
  • Flesh and Bone

Flesh and BoneNow, onto the story. It’s 14 years after the zombie apocalypse and Benny is just about to finish school and needs to find a career. He was a baby when the  first zombies started to rise (First Night) and was saved by his brother, Tom, but he resents his brother for leaving his parents. Tom is a bounty hunter and wants Benny to join the family business. The story introduces the world outside their town, the Rot and Ruin, and allows the poor relationship between Benny and Tom to blossom and grow as Benny understand more about what his brother does and what really happened on First Night.

The path is pretty rocky though and they encounter zombies and other bounty hunters, who run the Zombie Gameland. No, it’s not a nice place to visit. Also there’s the introduction of the Lost Girl, Lilah

The second book continues the story and has Tom, Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong trying to find the jet that they saw fly over in the first book. The group end up getting split and find that Gameland has been rebuilt and things are worse than ever. There’s a pretty sad ending to this book, so be warned!

Dust and DecayDead and Gone is a shorter book and introduces Riot to the group of characters. It also brings in the Night Church and the Reapers.

Riot, the Night Church and the Reapers feature heavily on the 4th book. This one is a real page turner and expands the Rot and Ruin into other groups and cultures. Of course it ends with even more of a cliffhanger than the other books!

Now, the first book I really enjoyed. Benny was a bit annoying at the start as he was just so angry with Tom but had never discussed First Night with him in 14 years… By the end of the book I’d grown to like him more and loved the relationship with him and Tom. The second book for me was a not as strong, but still a great book. But this is often the case with a series of books. There was a good building of characters and Chong and Benny bounced off one another really well. Nix is quite annoying and the ‘anger’ seems to be firmly in her court in this book. The 3rd book (Flesh and Bone) is fantastic though. The addition of the Night Church and the Reapers pulls in a group that are more scary and dangerous than any zombie. By this book you know the main characters pretty well, but the introduction of new characters really adds to the book. This book also brings in the idea that the is a Sanctuary out there.

ThDead and Gonee is a further book scheduled which will hopefully tie up the loose ends. And there were plenty at the end of Flesh and Bone.

This is a fantastic series. Not the same level of gore as a standard ‘adult’ zombie book, but more focus on the character and relationships, and to be honest, the storyline (which can be missing from some blood and gore books).

Oddly enough, the only character I found was lacking in roundness as Lilah. In the first book there is a lot of talk about the ‘Lost Girl’ and all the myths that surround her, but when you meet here, there’s not a lot of depth to the character. Riot was a much more rounded character and only featured in the last couple of books.

It’s really just a minor quibble as the series really romps through. Every book is a real  page-turner, especially the last book, which has the focus on a character or a group for each chapter, so you’re dying to read the the next chapter. Very cleverly written.

This is prabably the first book I’ve read where you actually feel a little sorry for the zombies. The words of Tom echo through the books – ‘they were all once human’. Yeah, OK these are still zombies that will eat you and kill you, but they are pictured as more pathetic creatures who can’t really be blamed for what they are. This isn’t the namby-pamnby returning to humanity that you get in Warm Bodies, just a real sense of they are what they are, don’t kill them or torture them just for the sake of it. There’s more a dignity to them – when they aren’t moaning and trying to eat you!

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