Every once in awhile, a book comes along that pulls you in and holds you tight in its walking dead grip until you consume every word with voracious bites. Those kinds of books don't surface all that often anymore, but when one does you feel lucky. Almost blessed to have read it.
Having a teen in the house, I tend to read a lot of YA. Some of it is so gripping emotionally that after you put it down there is a familiar nostalgia that takes you back to your own youth. It creates a longing for the early innocence often displayed by the main character, an innocence you watch shattered page by page until you reach the end and they stand tall on the final page--an adult who can never reclaim that innocence again.
Rot & Ruin is that kind of book. From the introduction to main character Benny Imura on page one, you know this boy living with misconceptions in a world so wrong it's hard to imagine is about to face the rudest of awakenings imaginable.
Maberry carefully crafted not only believable characters in an unbelievable world, but the relationships between them is incredibly real. Two brothers torn apart by misunderstandings and secrets, Benny finds himself reluctantly joining his older brother Tom in the family business. Killing is Tom's business, and in a world filled with zoms, business is more than good.
Benny's blind hatred for his brother interferes with their relationship, making it hard for them to trust each other. As Tom draws Benny into the "Rot & Ruin" beyond their small, California community to silence the dead, Benny gets a firsthand look at who his brother really is. That look shatters Benny's perception, making it hard for him to accept that everything he's believed and known until that moment was an easy lie he told himself to feel better about the loss of their parents.
Ignore the fact that I am a bonafide gushing Jonathan Maberry fan. I cannot stress enough how powerful and touching Rot & Ruin is. Inspiring a shred of hope in a hopeless world is a difficult task for any writer to undertake, but Maberry does it with such ease that if you don't find yourself tearing up during several scenes in this book, or feeling attached to these characters within the first thirty pages, you may just be a zombie yourself.
Rot & Ruin is available from Simon & Schuster for $17.99 USD, a small price to pay for a story you won't be able to put down, even after you've read the final word. Check your local independent bookstore, and if they don't have it in stock, ask them to order it for you.
You can also access up to 13 pages of bonus prequel material on the official Simon & Schuster page, so check it out!