Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura, #1)-Jonathan Maberry
There are moments that define a person’s whole life. Moments in which everything they are and everything they may possibly become balance on a single decision. Life and death, hope and despair, victory and failure teeter precariously on the decision made at that moment. These are moments ungoverned by happenstance, untroubled by luck. These are moments in which a person earns the right to live, or not.
“Eat me,” said Benny with a grin.
“Zombies wouldn’t eat you. They have standards.”
Plot: Benny Imura doesn’t remember a time without zoms (zombies). After First Night, the day with the world fell to the living dead, the zoms have taken over the country, electricity is a thing of the past and people are limited to small villages. Although Benny was only an infant when First Night happened, he remembers his parents and their horrific death. Benny is haunted by visions of his mother screaming, his father bloody and ravenous, hands clenched around his mothers neck eager for flesh. After that night, a deep-rooted hatred of zoms and his cowardly brother is all he knows and all he lives for. Even though his brother Tom is a famous zombie-slayer, Tom scoffs, he knows the truth, when it really mattered, when he had the chance to save Benny’s mother from death he ran scared. Leaving his mother for dead is unforgivable to Benny and drives a mile-wide wedge between the brothers. Benny recently turned 15 and in this dystopian land of heartache and terror, 15 year olds are considered adults and must find a job or have their food rations cut in half. The problem is that jobs are not hard to come by but desirable ones are coveted and snatched up long before eligibility. As the deadline draws near, Benny must do something he swore he never would, ask his brother for help. Forced to join the family business of zombie-hunting or starve, Benny and Tom venture out into Rot and Ruin, what used to be the United States. Benny is met with an evil so sinister that he questions everything he thought he knew, his reality disintegrates and he slowly is met with a bleak reality that will leave him hollow and confused. Rot and Ruin is nothing like he expected nor is his brother. Deadly secrets, twisted, grotesque murders, and corruption are all part of Rot and Ruin and Benny is caught right in the middle. When Benny is confronted with an insurmountable choice that threatens to break him, he becomes the unlikeliest of heroes. With the help of his brother and some surprising new friends, Benny embarks on a dangerous rescue mission that will have you second-guessing the nature of zombies, humanity, and morality.
- Benny. Although as you’ll read below in the cons section that he’s slow on the uptake and pigheaded, his development is fantastic. It’s wonderfully inspirational to watch Benny transform from a naive 15 year old boy to a determined, powerful young adult. As he grows in character, he questions who he is as a person, who he wants to become, and reevaluates what he thought he knew for the first 15 years of his life. He thought zombies were blood-thirsty killers who took away his chance at a loving family but when out in Rot and Ruin he learns about mercy, humanity, and just how far someone will go to save the ones they love from pain. By the end of the book he’s no longer the foolhardy little brat he was in the beginning but a smart, calculated, risky hero on the rise. He puts his life on the line, battling through hordes of zombies, bounty hunters, and spring-trapped terrain to save innocent lives form the horrors of greedy, seedy men.
- Tom Imura is one badass, sexy slayer. He’s full of compassion, zen, and understanding. He sees the world in a way that’s unique and makes your heart bleed and eyes water. He’s a beautifully compelling character who still has enough sympathy to put zombies at rest and embrace the world with open eyes and hope. Plus he’s a masterful fighter with wicked samurai skills.
- The men in this story are unafraid to cry with such perfect, gut-wrenching abandon that you really feel a connection.
- Lilah or the Lost Girl. A little whacked, 10 shades creepy, and a whole lot of terrifying, this girl can kill without mercy, she’s cold, vicious, and on a mission to take out the bounty hunters that took away her childhood, robbed her of her sister, and destroyed her life. Lilah is a feral mix of love and ruthless determination that will leave you wondering what you would have done had you been as wronged and wrecked by man; you’ll find a new understanding for the simplicity of zombies as former humans.
- Nix. Nix is a fiery redhead with a sassy attitude, a dreamy design for a future outside of her small village and aims to write a nonfiction book on zombies. She fights for her life, kicking and punching her way through always to get back to Benny. She never gives up and puts herself in the line of fire to help those in need.
- There are some slow points but generally the plot is fast-paced, fueled by mystery and bloodshed. The zombie descriptions and mutilations are gruesomely descriptive in that great way that will leave little to the imagination and might give you a nightmare or two.
- Benny is kind of an idiot. He’s completely and utterly stubborn, so much so that when the truth slaps him in the face he still has his doubts. He can’t get past the assumption that his brother is a weak sham of a zombie-slayer and so his relationship with his only relative is stunted and sad. His temper escalated quickly and is rife with assertions that are off-base and ridiculous. Furthermore, he’s completely daft; sometimes he’ll make a comment or ask a question and you’ll feel compelled to face palm, like come on kid, seriously?
- There’s little development of characters apart from the 4 main ones; Benny’s friendships are there but there’s not enough that you feel any real compassion or connection to them. Although there are some humorous passages, they’re immature and fall flat.
- The awkward semi-romantic scenes are somewhat painful to read. If there had been some playful banter or teasing or something to lighten the tragic mood a teensy bit it would have been okay but instead read like a sulky, weird mess.
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