"Rot & Ruin" by Jonathan Maberry
It's fourteen years after the zombie outbreak that ended the world as it was known and most humans who survived live behind fences in small settlements. Outside the fences lies the great Rot and Ruin, a place where zombies roam free and there are no rules.
Fifteen-year-old Benny Imura lives in the Mountainside settlement with his brother Tom, a zombie hunter. Benny holds a grudge against Tom that goes back to the First Night when they lost their parents. Now he is at the age where he has to find a job or else he risks losing a portion of his rations and after trying various jobs around the settlement, he reluctantly decides to join Tom in the family business.
But life in the Rot and Ruin is not what Benny thought it was at all. Tom reveals a world where zombies are not monsters but people. He also reveals a world where the heroes of the settlement, the zombie hunters, are immoral thugs who kidnap children and hunt zombies for sport. When Benny and Tom set out to save their friend Nix and find The Lost Girl, a young girl who has been living among the zombies her entire life, Benny finds himself on a journey in which he discovers who his brother really is and what it truly means to be human.
Rot & Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry, is a gripping young adult novel full of zombies, adventure and self-discovery. It's a post-apocalyptic coming of age story that will appeal to readers of all ages and all genres.
This isn't the typical book I would read, but in attempts to branch out a bit I gave it a shot. I haven't read any other zombie books (though I'm a fan of The Walking Dead) to compare it to but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a big one (just over 460 pages) but is so gripping and wonderfully written that you find yourself engrossed in it and before you know it you're at the end. It has the right amount of serious story-line, character development, and of course. zombies.
I thought the characters were well-written, mature but still believable as teens, and easily identifiable. Their story lines and backgrounds were well-developed and blended nicely with the zombie infested surroundings and danger. Every character you are introduced to has an interesting story that is well-detailed.
Even though there are sequels, I originally planned to read just this novel as part of one of my reading challenges. But now I find myself invested in the characters and the next story that we've already been given a taste of in this book. It's a zombie novel with heart and soul, one that will appeal to the zombie fanatic and even those who get creeped by the thought of them. A good read for both young adults and adults.