Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

My rating: 3/5

From Amazon: "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."

This book suffers from a good idea with not-so-good execution.  The only way I was able to finish it was to imagine famous actors playing the parts and hear the dialogue in their voices, even if those actors didn't make any sense for the parts I gave them. For example, Jensen Ackles is not Japanese, but Dean Winchester works very well as Tom; and Christopher Walken is not a big muscly dude, but he is hilarious as Charlie Pink-Eye, and I highly recommend reading his lines in Walken's voice.

The biggest problem was the main character.  Benny is annoying. He's lazy and childish in the beginning, and he has spurts of maturing throughout the book, but sometimes he backslides (and it's not always clear why), and you roll your eyes.  How he could grow up in a tiny town and not know what his brother, whom he lives with, does for a living is far-fetched, as is the characterization of the town itself being so awkwardly fearful.  Tom explains these things to Benny; Benny says these things are dumb; and the reader agrees. 

But again, I like the idea. I like having to wrap my mind around zombies still being people, at least in the memories of those who loved them. I like the Wild West feel of the all-but-vanquished world.  It just gets a little too dramatic and a little too unrealistic.

For a zombie book though, there isn't a terrible amount of gore, and there is only a little swearing (I think one of the big bad guys even says "friggin'" at one point), so it seems to be aimed at a younger, junior-high-ish audience.  But it doesn't quite fit that crossover young-adult-to-adult audience, so I probably wouldn't recommend it for anyone older than high school.

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