Saturday, January 24, 2015

Double Teen Review: Zombies!

Rot & Ruin
by Jonathan Maberry
458 pages
Young Adult Dystopian
Part of a series for middle school and up

Reviewed by Riley O'Callahan, grade 8

This book is about 15-year-old Benny Imura, a teenager with a lot on his mind as he deals with the problems of growing up after First Night, or the day that humans started becoming zombies when they die. Zombies, or "zoms," as they’re known in Benny’s world, are kept out of his town of Mountainside with keys, doors, and fences. But when Benny is forced to start work with his brother Tom, a well-known zom killer with a sentimental streak, Benny learns that the world outside the fence is harsher than it seems. Will Benny survive in the Rot and Ruin – and save his brother as well as his crush?

I enjoyed this book overall, awarding it a 7 out of 10, but there were a few spots that just seemed slow in my opinion. For example, the beginning takes a while to get the story off the ground, but once things pick up, it transforms from just-another-zombie-book into not-your-typical-zombie-book, if ya know what I’m sayin’ here (wink wink).
Seriously, though, I would recommend this book to all you horror movie and “The Walking Dead” fans out there. You know who you are. There are three books following this one: Dust and Decay, Flesh and Bone, and Fire and Ash, respectively. They sound intriguing, considering where the story left off, so I’ll think I’ll give them a shot. In the end, Rot and Ruin was a fresh take on all of those stereotypical zombie books, and an insight into human morals, survival of the fittest (or should I say fastest…’cause zombies are slow? Get it? Ha ha) and reaching from our souls to the bane of our existence.

Editor's note: I received two reviews of this book at the same time, so here's another viewpoint...and here's author Jonathan Maberry's OWN zombie card! (The kids in the book collect zombie cards like baseball cards...eeuw.)

Reviewed by Michelle M., grade 8

Rot and Ruin by John Maberry is fantasy fiction novel of 458 pages that takes place in a world overrun with the living dead. This thrilling book is part of a four-book series that will surely take you on many exhilarating journeys with Benny and his gang of lovable characters.
Benny has just turned 15 and must find a job in order to keep his food rations. Benny has an older brother, Tom, whom Benny has resented for being a coward ever since he was young. Tom offers Benny an apprenticeship with him, and when Benny cannot find any other job, he accepts the offer. After that, Tom introduces Benny to a whole new world outside his sheltered town, a world that is both beautiful and ugly: the Rot and Ruin. During his adventures, Benny sheds his naivety and learns of the hardships of life. But Benny also comes to learn who the real monsters of the world are.
At first, I felt that Rot and Ruin was an average book with a plain storyline (the overused ‘zombie apocalypse’ thing), but as I progressed through the book, the plot really developed and became a complex and interesting story. Although it begins slowly, it picks up the pace fairly quickly later in the novel. Similarly, the protagonist, Benny Imura, goes through major character development, transforming from a whiny, snotty teenage boy to a mature, intelligent young man. I enjoyed most of the book after it stopped being boring, everything from the action-packed scenes to the sweet, heartbreaking moments.
The message this book conveys is also very clear and well incorporated into the plot. Over all, I liked
everything in this book except for its bland, early stages. I would recommend this book to 7th grade up, although highly sensitive readers may not appreciate the gore Rot and Ruin contains; people who are okay with that kind of content may enjoy the thrilling read. I look forward to reading the rest of the series, and I will rate this book as a 4 out of 5.
Editor's note: We use a different rating scale (1-10 instead of 1-5) in book club, so that's why the ratings are dissimilar. Also, both our reviewers (and me) seem to agree about the slow start that turns into a great read!


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