Rot and Ruin
by Jonathan Maberry
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. (description taken from Amazon.com)
I was absolutely drawn in and then blown away by this book. The world is very reminiscent of Carrie Ryan's zombie apocalypse, which is great, because they are both fantastically imagined. What I thought set this book apart from hers, setting-wise, was the frontier feeling. There is a definite Western vibe to this book that I totally dug.
After the events of First Night, when zombies took over the modern world, society reverted back to more of a frontier lifestyle. Safe within the boundaries of small towns, with only bounty hunters or loners venturing out into the wild frontier...the Rot and Ruin.
The excellently drawn characters - the Imura brothers, Nix, Lilah, Charlie Pink-Eye - all force readers to really think through the morality of a lifestyle in the wild free from rules. As Benny begins to open his eyes to what the world is like, more and more questions must be asked and most of the answers are truly appalling. Even their town which seemed to be a safe haven slowly becomes a place led by fear and built on turning a blind eye.
I was transfixed throughout this book. I cried when Benny finally had to bring peace to his own memories, and I CANNOT wait to get my hands on Dust and Decay.