by Jonathan Maberry
Series: Benny Imura #1
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
I grabbed the Tales of Rot & Ruin Collection after reading some awesome reviews from Christy@ Love of Books and after a little arm twisting from her. I am pleased to tell you that we are still friends. In his first book Rot & Ruin, Maberry led me on an epic tale in a post-apocalyptic America, filled with zombies and lovable characters. It left me anxious to read the next book in this series.
The tale takes place about fifteen years after “First Night” (the night most of the world turned into zombies). We meet Benny Imura who lost both of his parents that night and lives with his brother Tom, a zombie hunter. Benny is about to turn fifteen and must find a job or his rations will be cut in half. His brother has offered to take him into the family business, but Benny has some unresolved issues regarding his brother. After attempting a series of jobs he finds himself as an apprentice to his brother! The tale that unfolds takes Benny on a journey of self-discovery. The tale was action-packed, at times hilarious and I found myself completely spellbound.
I loved the characters Maberry has created. Benny is inquisitive, stubborn and brave. The growth of Benny was delightful to watch. He finds himself and gains an understanding of human nature and zombies. His older brother Tom is a zombie hunter and in a word- HOT. He is like a ninja, calm, even-tempered and a lethal weapon. I loved how he allowed Benny to figure things out while carefully parenting. He showed Benny how to be a man, and so often people tell instead of showing and I found this refreshing. Benny’s friends Chong, Morgie and Nix were cute, funny and added to the tale. Nix has a crush on Benny and he feels the same, but cannot reciprocate because of “guy code”. Lilah was fascinating, brave and totally kick-ass. Of course, there were some totally badass villains for me to loathe and plenty of zombies out looking for a late night snack.
The world-building was unique and the tale was refreshingly original. While we learned a lot about “First Night”, the town Benny lives in and the Ruins, we didn’t really learn how the zombies came to be. Maberry did give us a close look at the town, its operations and details about zombies themselves. His take on them was fascinating. I also liked the different outposts in the Ruins and learning how people adapted. The whole thing made me question myself and what I would do. The tale is very character driven and at its heart, it’s a coming of age tale. There is some romance and it was cute and sweet. I am looking forward to seeing how it develops. The tale flows well and I was captivated, but if you are looking for non-stop action, you may be disappointed. I will tell you that the action scenes were epic and had me turning the pages at lightning speed. The tale had some closure and it sets us up nicely for the next book.
I highly recommend Rot & Ruin to fans of post-apocalyptic dystopians and character-driven novels. Zombies lovers will gain a whole new perspective on their fleshy friends. The next book Dust & Decay begins six months after Rot & Ruin ended and I hope to bring you that review soon.
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