Series: Benny Imura #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 14, 2010
In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.
I’ve read several zombie books in the recent months. Because of this I know that it’s important for the author to come up with some original aspect to centralize their story around. I don’t feel that this book did it… what this book felt like to me was a typical YA story with zombies thrown in as an after-thought.
Rot & Ruin’s ‘original aspect’ focused on a group of people trying to change the world to make people see and understand that zombies don’t have any control over their actions and that they were once people and should be treated as such.
The society 14 years after ‘First Night’ is a far cry from the world today. People have developed a rut to the point where they have no desire to attempt taking back their world so they survive by living locked inside a chain link fence living in cabins and surviving without electricity. How zombies came to be is never explained either, which, I missed because I always love a good explanation for their existence. Even people who die of natural causes come back as zombies. But even after all this time, these people have chosen to live a stagnant life of monotony rather than attempt to grow and develop as a people and overcome the zombies. This line pretty much sums it up:
”Electronics and complex machines were no longer allowed in town, because of a strong religious movement that associated that kind of power with the “Godless behavior” that had brought about “the end.””
The Imura brothers, Tom and Benny, are in the zombie killing business… or more appropriately, they are in business to bring families peace of mind. Rather than just going out and mindlessly slaying zombies to be rid of them, they are hired by families to locate their zombiefied family members and kill them so that they can rest assured that they are no longer the walking dead going around munching on people. Num num.
There were a few other interesting tidbits to this story, like, “Gameland”. So apparently some really sick and twisted humans that were often described as being worse than the zombies (because the zombies of course don’t know what they’re doing and should be excused because they’ve got a bad case of the munchies) like to capture up small children and force them to fight against zombies. We never see Gameland, we just hear about it…. So that storyline kinda fell flat.
There was also the story about the “Lost Girl”. The girl who’s survived on her own for years. Benny first learns about her when he gets her ‘card’ in the latest batch of zombie cards. Yes, zombie cards. Much like your normal baseball cards, but with celebrity zombies, bounty hunters, etc. So yes, Benny gets the “Lost Girl” card and is immediately infatuated with her. It suddenly becomes his desire to find her, save her, and keep her from danger. Aw, here comes her knight in shining armor.
But the only thing I can think of is, here’s this 15 year old kid who just started training to be a zombie hunter less than week ago and he feels it’s his mission in life to now save this total bad ass Xena type zombie killing machine who’s been surviving on her own in the Rot & Ruin for YEARS… and Benny plans on saving her. With his wooden sword. Right.
By the time the ending came around I was truly bored. I think the complete predictability of the book had something to do with it but this story just lacked in overall excitement for me.