Benny has turned fifteen, and therefore has to find a job to keep getting rations. The problem is that all the good, easy jobs are taken, so he doesn't have a lot of options. In the end he reluctantly apprentices to his older brother, Tom. A zombie hunter. Under Tom's guidance, he will leave the protected, fenced community and go out into the Rot and Ruin that used to be the United States to hunt down and kill zombies.
He expects the job to be dull and hard, and he is not looking forward to working with his brother. Although everybody seems to admire and respect Tom, Benny's not sure what the big deal is. Tom's nothing like the cool bounty hutners Benny looks up to; he's quiet, unexciting, and actually avoids violence. Benny knows he's nothing but a coward.
What he discovers in the Rot and Ruin, though, will change his life, and him. As he searches for the Lost Girl and the truth about his world, he will have to discover for himself where the line is drawn between man and monster...
I read Rot and Ruin alone and late at night. This was a mistake, as I soon found myself desperately wishing for a nightlight so that the living dead couldn't creep up on me in the dark. Rot and Ruin was a great book that I could not put down, and yes, it terrified me. In a good way.
I read this until way too early in the morning because I could not put it down. I kept telling myself, "I'll stop after one more chapter," and then of course I had to read just one more. The setting and premise are both excellent, a well-done apocalyptic/dystopian arrangement. I think the actual plot at times veered towards predictable, as far as the climax and outcome are concerned, but the simple appeal of it made up for that.
I was only a chapter or two in when I was already thinking, "This Benny is a major brat." And he was. But over the course of the book, he grew, changed, and matured. It was one of the most realistic character arcs I've read in a long time. The side characters and villains were both well and tastefully done overall, and even the love interest scenes were realistic and natural-seeming.
Also, I think I might be a little bit in love with Tom.
I thought that the book was quite well written, although maybe the action/fight scenes left a little to be desired. But the characterization and the description were both done quite well, and I liked the take on the zombies. I mean, everybody's read a zombie book and seen a zombie movie before, and there's only so much material to work with. But Maberry still manages to make his seem unique and interesting, and they're appealing in that gruesome, non-appealing way that only zombies can manage. I also very much appreciated that the gore was done tastefully: the book was not a nonstop campaign to gross out the reader, which unfortunately many zombie books devolve into. Overall, I thought Rot and Ruin was very well done.
End Result: four stars. A good book, definitely worth your time.