Subscribe to SLJ
Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Book Review: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

In a world taken by storm by vicious, flesh-eating, decaying zombies, only a few places of civilization dot the earth. Rules and common decencies of the world before are next to nonexistent. It’s a do or die world for most.

Benny Imura has just turned fifteen. Living in the dilapidated town of Mountainside , fifteen means get a job. No job, no rations. He’s tried everything, from locksmith to fence tester. None of which has held his interest. Looks like his only option is to join the family business.

Benny’s brother, Tom Imura, has the unique occupation of zombie killer. Among others, he is one of the most experienced and respected in the field. That is, to everyone other than Benny himself. Benny thinks he’s a coward, made soft by the “mercy killings” of the town’s once living loved ones. But Benny has no choice. Even in a world of zombies, there are rules.

The Rot & Ruin is a mysterious place. Famous zombies. Prestigious Zombie killers. Even legends of a lost girl, trapped in the clutches of the Rot and Ruin. But it’s not only mysterious, it’s a predator’s playground. It’s not only the dead against the living. Vicious animals run wild outside the protective gates of Mountainside, as well as other zombie killers whose complete lack of empathy sets them apart from Tom, making them sinister and deadly if crossed. Danger lurks in every corner, just waiting for prey.

It’s a tale of family and friendship mixed up in a messed up world. Will they survive the Rot and Ruin? Will Benny ever learn to love his brother? And are the legends of the Lost Girl really only legends? Only time, along with blood, sweat, and fear will tell as Benny ventures out into the Ruin.

This book…there are so many things I can say about it. One thing I have to say, is this is a MUST read. I’m serious. Go out right now, pick up a copy, and DON”T put it down till you’re done. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll even gasp a little. This book has so many savory twists and turns, you very well may go into depression from finishing it…Maybe not, but I certainly was sad when I finished it. Thankfully, it’s got a sequel.

Jonathan Maberry has outdone himself. An author not new to the flesh-eating genre, dishes out an adrenaline pumping novel that you can really sink your, rotten, decaying, teeth into. Most definitely satisfying any undead’s craving for a good brain…er…I mean book. Ba-dum-pshh.

The author does a magnificent job in relaying the lives of young people during a zombie apocalypse. I haven’t seen many others who take account what the kids are thinking when grandma’s bustin’ down your door trying to eat you, but Mr. Maberry definitely has delivered in the area.

His descriptions are colorful. His words are enticing. His novel is magnificent. Most definitely going in my top 10 favorites. I would highly recommend this to any brain-munching enthusiast!

Cuyler, age 18

A second opinion: It’s easy to look at the concept of the zombie and say, but they’re monsters. Rot & Ruin takes a closer look at the human condition in a post apocalyptic world and makes you ask: who are the monsters, really? How do we re-organize our world when everything has fallen apart, the population is cut in more than half, and the normal rules of society are suddenly thrown out the window? One of the things that zombie fiction does well is challenge our views of who we are and who we would become in the face of utmost adversity, and no one does that better than Jonathan Maberry. Rot & Ruin presents a well developed post apocalyptic vision that hooks you right from the first words and keeps you invested every step of the way. Benny, Tom and their friends are well developed characters that readers care about. And, of course, there is plenty of thrilling zombie action. If you don’t already have it in your collection, you’ll want to add it asap. – TLT

Want to know more about Zombie fiction? Read the previous post, What’s the Deal with Zombies Anyway?, or check out They Suck, They Bite, They Eat, They Kill by Dr. Joni Richards Bodart.
Meet Cuyler, our new teen reviewer here at TLT . . .

Cuyler Creech is a teen author who lives in Weatherford, TX. He loves to read, spend time with his family and friends, and most of all, he loves to write. Cuyler is 18, and has been writing for many years. He’s also a published author of one novel (not in print anymore) and focuses primarily on young adult fiction. His favorite books are dystopians and horrors, and his favorite time to read is during thunderstorms. He is the oldest of three siblings, one who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome and Autism, and is going to college to become a Pediatric Occupational Therapist.


  1. This is an excellent review. Well thought-out and well-written. And…much appreciated.

    The second book in the series, DUST & DECAY, is now in hardcover. Benny Imura and his friends will return in FLESH & BONE (September 11, 2012) and FIRE & ASH (2013)

    In the meantime, there are thirteen pages of free prequel scenes for ROT & RUIN available on the Simon & Schuster webpage for the book.

    And there are twenty-five pages of free scenes set between ROT & RUIN and DUST & DECAY. Here’s a link to the main page; access the scenes by clicking on the banner that reads: READ BONUS MATERIAL BY JONATHAN MABERRY:

    Additional free bonus scenes will be posed in 2012 prior to the release of FLESH & BONE.

  2. Cuyler will be so excited to see that you replied to his book review. He is a fan. He dressed up as a zombie hunter at a Zombie Wallk that was held back in October of 2011. We have both read Dust & Decay and loved it. And we both eagerly await Flesh & Bone. To be honest, I tell everyone to read this series including family, friends and fellow staff members and everyone (and that's a lot of people) have all loved it. We should have mentioned in our review the really good graphic design of the book.

  3. Thanks so much Mr. Maberry for replying! And I'm glad you liked the review. You and Benny deserve a good review for all your hard work. And I do agree with TLT. We should have mentioned the graphic design of the book. A little something extra for us. I am a huge fan, and I thouroughly look forward to reading Flesh & Bone!

Speak Your Mind