The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Book of the Month ~ Rot & Ruin

Hardcover Honey's Book of the Month ~ Rot & Ruin

A Hardcover Honey Book of the Month Review by Jocelyn 

Rot & Ruin - Jonathan Maberry

It just kills me when crappy YA books like Twilight become huge successes and money-printing movie series while books like Rot & Ruin may languish unknown on the shelves. This is a way-cinematic story, would make a kick-ass movie, and even has a few built-in love triangles that DIDN’T drive me batshit crazy.

Benny Imura has grown up in a world of zombies. Now 15, Benny barely remembers the events of the night he lost both of his parents, as he was only 18 months old when his half-brother Tom took him and ran from the creatures that used to be their caregivers. Benny blames Tom for leaving them behind and as a result, their relationship is fraught with angst. It doesn’t help that Tom is a much-admired and feared zombie hunter who commands a ton of respect in their town of Mountainside.

Outside the fence that surrounds Mountainside is what they call “Rot & Ruin” – a sort of wild-west-but-with-zombies. Periodically, Tom goes out into Rot & Ruin to kill zombies, sometimes at the request of family members who don’t want their loved ones existing as brain-dead husks of themselves. Tom even prefers the title “closure specialist” to the more popular “bounty hunter” label. Unbound by such niceties are the town’s other well-known zombie killers, Charlie Matthias and Marion Hammer (better known as The Motor City Hammer), Benny is a big fan of these two and can’t understand why some townspeople insist that Tom is tougher.

Maberry does a great job here with the initial set-up of characters, including a group of Benny’s friends and a redheaded girl (shades of Charlie Brown) named Nix who is clearly nursing a crush on him. Benny admires The Hammer and Charlie, though we as adult readers can see feet of clay, and Tom remains shrouded in mystery through these opening chapters. There is some terrific world-building wherein we see how First Night (the initial outbreak) played out - and it is riveting. When Benny begs Tom to be an apprentice and Tom acquiesces, the stage is carefully set for good bounty hunters vs evil in the Rot & Ruin.

The story is complicated when Benny happens onto a zombie trading card of a mysterious “Lost Girl” and becomes determined to learn more about her story and possibly even track her down.  Benny and Tom set out on a quest to do just that, and we see much more of Rot & Ruin, a truly disturbing place. Several zombie set pieces were among the best I’ve read, and I’ve read a LOT. This book is over 400 pages long, but I flew through it in just a few days, which is the ultimate compliment.

Hardcover Honey's verdict: 4.5. out of 5 creepy zombies for this fun read.