Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review: Rot and Ruin

Jonathan Maberry, 2011, Simon & Schuster

Benny Imura was only a toddler on First Night, but his last memory of his parents is tainted by the image of them becoming zombies, and he blames his older brother, Tom, for not saving them. Now Benny is fifteen, and Tom wants them to put their difficult relationship behind them and work together in the 'family business': as zombie killers. It's the last thing Benny wants to do, but he needs a job and thinks it'll be an easy ride. But when they head into the Rot and Ruin that surrounds their township, Benny soon realises there's more to the job than just killing the undead. And, as he's confronted by the grim realities of the world around him, Benny makes the most terrifying discovery of all: that sometimes the worst monsters you can imagine are human...

In this Young Adult expansion of Maberry's novella 'Family Business', which appeared in Christopher Golden's brilliant Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead, Maberry once again demonstrates why he's deservedly regarded as one of the greats of modern horror fiction, and especially of zombie fiction. His plotting maintains great momentum, navigating various twists and turns, to deliver a tense, atmospheric and action-packed post-apocalyptic 'coming of age' horror tale. The characters all elicit a great degree of empathy, if not necessarily sympathy, demonstrating a range of complex emotions, motivations and flaws that readers will immediately recognise and identify with. Maberry is also a master at using the blank canvas of the zombie hordes (thematically speaking) as a means to highlight aspects of human nature central to the plot.

Rot and Ruin is a fantastic read, and one that will appeal to both YA and adult readers. Expect an Australian release in early April.

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