Benny just turned fifteen. In his world that means he must find a job in order to continue receiving his rations. The problem is, Benny can’t find a job he likes.  He and his best friend, Chong, waited too long to get one and all the easy jobs are gone. What’s left aren’t very appealing. He’s tried being a locksmith, a fence tester, a fence technician, a carpet coat salesman, a pit thrower, a crank generator repairman, a spotter, a bottler, and an erosion artist. It seems like the only option left is to join the family business.

Benny’s brother, Tom, is one of the most respected and successful zombie killers.  The problem is, Benny doesn’t know why people think Tom’s that great. He’s never seen Tom do anything especially exciting or impressive – in fact, he’s actually turned away from violence, which makes Benny think Tom’s a coward. Tom is nothing like the totally cool Zombie Killers like Charlie Pink-Eye and Motor City Hammer. Benny has never intended to do what Tom does. He’s always said no every time Tom asked him to become his apprentice. But, his lack of success in any other job has left him no choice.

Benny learns a lot while out in the Rot & Ruin with Tom.  He learns about his own past, what it is that Tom really does, and what separates man from monster. Benny’s outlook on life completely changes as he begins to realize there might be more to life than just his small town of Mountainside.

ROT & RUIN is a perfect choice for readers who enjoyed THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. Both books take place in a small town of survivors surrounded by fences that keep the zombies out. ROT & RUIN is set in a time when people still remember what happened when the zombies started rising, so the reader gets some first-hand accounts of First Night (the night the world changed). ROT & RUIN also gives us some of the blood and gore that we sometimes want in a zombie novel.

Jonathan Maberry did an excellent job developing the characters and creating an interesting setting. The reader can get lost in Benny’s world. ROT & RUIN gets the Stay Awake Award because I couldn’t put it down. In fact, I stayed up to 3:30 A.M. one night to finish. This story caused me to cringe, gasp, chuckle, and cry. Absolutely amazing!