Rot and Ruin Jonathan Maberry
Benny Imura couldn't hold a job, so he took to killing.
How's that for a kicker of a first sentence?
When you turn 15, you have to find a job, of your get cut down to half-rations. Benny tries everything, but nothing fits so he reluctantly takes his brother up on the offer to be his apprentice as bounty hunter.
Benny will never forgive his brother, Tom, for what happened on First Night. Benny remembers his mother screaming from the window as Tom took Benny and ran while their father, already turned, attacked her from behind. Everyone thinks Tom is brave and fearless, a hero, but Benny knows. Benny knows Tom is nothing but a coward.
But as Benny journeys into the Rot and Ruin with Tom, he soon realizes that everything he thought he knew-- about who were the heroes and who were the monsters is completely wrong.
I'm over zombies. Really, another zombie book? Is that really necessary?
In this case, HELLS YES.
I've never been one for horror or zombies, but this is just so much more.
While there is certainly a lot of zombie action, at the core it's a coming-of-age story as Benny realizes there is more to the world and the people in it than he realized. As he realizes that maybe it's not the zombies that are the real monsters.
I loved the tension between the Benny and his generation and the adults. Benny was two on First Night. He remembers flashes from that night, but not life before. The adults remember that First Night wasn't a single night, what life used to be like before the dead rose and started biting. They don't like to talk about it much, want to save the younger ones from the horror of what happened, which means that the teens don't necessarily respect what's going on. I think it's something that often happens as communities try to move on from societal tragedy and Maberry explores this really, really well.
I loved how much this was more about the people in the community rather than us vs. zombies.
While the zombies are definitely important, this is a much meatier, deeper book than it appears on the surface.
There's a reason why it's a Cybils winner!
Also, bonus multicultural points-- Tom is Japanese-American and Benny is half-Japanese, half-Irish. It's not a huge deal in the series but for everyone looking for a hotttt Asian male in teen lit? TOM IS YOUR GUY. Swoony.
Book Provided by... my local library
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