Skip to main content

Book Review: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry Gives Hunger Games Fans Something New to Read

I have been a young adult librarian since 2006. I have witnessed book after book coming into the library. Let me tell you--there doesn't seem to be anything original coming in anymore. Now, teens and the adults who read teen books can breathe easy. In Rot and Ruin, Jonathan Maberry has created a novel that takes one of the latest crazes--zombies--and creates a new world that dystopian readers will delve into.
It seems odd to use zombies to teach lessons about humanity. It's the future, and zombies have taken over the world. Some virus has set in, and now it's only a matter of time before every human eventually becomes a zombie. If you get infected by a zombie, you're toast, and even if you die a natural death, you re-animate as a zombie. The only way to avoid being a zombie is for someone to drive a large stake into the back of their head.

Our protagonist is Benny Imura, a teenager who is your typical surly teen. Orphaned when his parents both became zoms, he now lives with his brother Tom. He despises Tom, because he believes Tom abandoned his parents when they needed him the most. But right now, Benny's biggest problem is finding a job. Everyone is required to work. He is willing to do anything but work with Tom. Tom is a zombie hunter, which should impress Benny, since he seems to be in awe of the other zombie hunters in town. But it's hard to look up to someone who you believe is a coward. Finding a job proves more difficult than Benny realizes. Inevitably, he ends up working with Tom, and he learns that everything he originally believed was a lie.


Maberry creates a world that readers can immerse themselves in. And he does this without us noticing. The beginning scenes are crucial. Benny describes what jobs he has tried. He has tried being a carpet coat salesman, a fence patroller, locksmith, and so on. As he describes each job, we learn about this world we have entered and what its citizens regard as normal. Benny and his friends sit around the store and trade zombie hunter cards. They fantasize over the lost girl, a girl who is supposedly living in the wild ever since her family was killed by zombies.

This book works because although zombies provide the context for the story, it actually has nothing to do with zombies and everything to do with humanity. What constitutes a monster and what does being human mean? I found myself being sucked into this story. This book doesn't make you love zombies, like the Twilight books did for vampires, but instead it helps you respect zombies and what they once were.
Inevitably, everyone in this story is doomed, but until they do, these zombie hunters are determined to make the world a more humane place for zombies and humans alike!


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ali Abassi's Border (2018): A Dark Swedish Fairy Tale

Have you ever felt like you are alone? Like you exist and move around in a community of people that you are nothing like?

Imagine how Tina feels. She works as a highly competent border guard for the sole reason that her sense of smell is extrasensory. She can smell fear, shame, and any negative emotion on people as they cross through her security area, and she is never wrong about her suspicions. Her work career, however, might be the only thing she has going for her.

She lives on the outskirts of town with a boyfriend that owns a pack of dogs, and from all counts, they live together in a loveless domestic arrangement that is hard to imagine either of them conceiving. Things become a little clearer later as we learn that Tina owns the home and the boyfriend is enjoying the luxury of living rent free. Tina appears to have no family except for the man she calls father, who claims to have adopted her.

Tina is unattractive by human standards and is most often seen staring attentively and …

Yes, You Can: Take a Vacation by Yourself

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics. Solo vacationing can be one of the most freeing and relaxing ways to travel. I'm sure you can think of at least one time when you took a trip only to have your getaway ruined by your companion.

I love a good vacation. There's nothing better than taking a few days off to decompress and get away from the stress of life. In my family, even when we didn't have a lot of money, it was considered important to have these little weekends. Sometimes we stayed with a family member. Sometimes, we would drive an hour away to the closest big city and spend a night in the Holiday Inn Holidome (remember those?). We thought that was big stuff. There was an indoor pool and a video game arcade. Sometimes Mom and Dad would go out for dinner, and we three girls would get to order pizza and watch TV ALONE.

It wasn't always easy sharing a hotel room with 5 people, 4 of them being female. We …

Alfonso Cuarón's Roma (2018) A Window into the Life of a Working Class Woman

For every person who keeps their hands clean and smooth from doing heavy duty manual labor, there are people who work thanklessly in the background, making life comfortable for those few. This is the subject of Roma, a film set in Mexico City with original screenplay written in Spanish. Roma takes one of those hardworking people and brings her front and center.

Cleo is the housekeeper of a middle-class family in the 1970s. She cleans the house, cleans the dog poo off the house entrance, brings the family tea, and serves them at mealtime. Cleo comes across as diligent, hardworking, sweet, shy, non-demanding, and loving. The children seem to adore her. She is a constant in their lives, and they treat her as one would expect a person who demands or expects nothing in return. At times, she’s like wallpaper. Other times, they are affectionate with her and desire her attention.

There isn’t much plot to this movie. Cleo does have some romantic adventures and deals with an unexpected pregn…