I think zombies are hot. Well, not physically hot, considering how rotting flesh and “eeeerrreeeuuuu!” noises don’t go well with the latest in lingerie. But I’ve kept a special place in my heart for zombies from books, movies, and video games for awhile now, and the trend seems to be at last surfacing in the mainstream. Quirky zombies are a particular favorite of mine, like the Lassie-style zombie in the dark comedy film Fido. Having a 1950’s inspired dystopian (or pseudo-utopian, in the case of Fido) setting for the zombies to frolic in also helps. And Rot & Ruin definitely delivers.
Rot & Ruin introduces us to a post-apocalyptic America populated primarily by zombies, with human survivors hiding in communities walled off by chain-link fences. Only the bravest of bounty hunters venture out into the wilds known as the Rot and Ruin. There, they hunt down celebrity zombies for fame, and ordinary zombies at the request of families seeking closure. Our intrepid protagonist, a “gee, whiz!” kind of 15-year-old named Benny, scoffs at his older brother Tom’s boring attitude toward zombies, despite Tom’s great reputation as a zombie killer. Instead Benny idolizes bounty hunters who make a brutal sport out of whacking zoms.
When Benny actually ventures out into the Rot and Ruin with Tom, however, he realizes that zoms aren’t just mindless shuffling monsters, especially when you can put names to their rotting faces. Zoms are, of course, the walking dead–but most people forget the emotional and ethical aspects of death itself.
Rot & Ruin actually got me sort of sniffly as I was reading; I was surprised by how sensitive of a book it can be. I also loved the good old-fashioned action adventure scenes, with plenty of charging horses through seas of zombies, escaping traps laid by bounty hunters, and various sword-fighting moves. I’m crossing my fingers that there will be a sequel, since the ending hints at one, because I’ll be ready to jump back into the next story and satisfy my love of zombies.
(I snagged this ARC at the ALA Annual Conference.)