Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

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Book Description

Publication Date: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.
Below is a better summary of the plot found on Wikipedia:

Plot summary

Benny Imura and his friend Chong look for a job so their rations don’t get cut in half. Benny is against becoming a zombie hunter because his half-brother, Tom, is known as one of the best zombie hunters. Benny thinks that Tom is a coward, due to a memory that Benny has from when he was two years old of Tom leaving his parents trapped in their house while he escaped with Benny on First Night, when the zombie epidemic had just begun. After trying many jobs, Chong becomes a spotter for the local watch, but Benny is still left without a job. Out of options, he finally asks Tom if he can be his apprentice. Tom accepts and the next morning they set out into the Rot and Ruin.

While they are beyond the fence Benny realizes that zombies are not monsters and should be respected as the dead are. Tom reveals to him the immorality of the hunters who maim the zombies to hunt them for sport.

A collectible zombie card of The Lost Girl piques Benny’s interest. He finds the card’s artist, Rob Sacchetto, who tells him more about the Lost Girl, who wanders the Rot and Ruin, surviving on her own. When Benny leaves, Charlie Pink-eye and The Motor City Hammer stop Benny at the door and demand that he hand over the Lost Girl zombie card. They threaten Benny, which causes Benny lose respect for them.Tom intervenes and takes Benny home for training.

That night, a giant storm breaks out and the townspeople, including Tom, rush to defend the border. By morning, Rob Sacchetto and Nix’s mother have died and Nix kidnapped. Benny and Tom go to rescue Nix. From Tom, Benny learns more about the Lost Girl and her connection to Gameland, where Charlie Pink-eye and other hunters pit children against zombies for entertainment. Charlie Pink-eye and the Hammer were also responsible for the deaths of Rob Sachetto, the artist who drew the Lost Girl card, and Nix’s mother, who fought zombies in Gameland (she was subsequently rescued by Tom). Benny meets the Lost Girl, rescues Nix, and defeats Charlie Pink-eye and The Motor City Hammer.

Benny and Nix see a jumbo jet fly overhead, turn around, and fly away. They decide to pursue the jet and see where it came from. In the end Benny and Tom go to Sunset Hollow, where Benny, Tom, and their family lived before the zombie outbreak. Benny realizes that Tom was not a coward and took Benny and ran away from their parents, who had already been infected. He earns respect and love for his brother.[2]

Review –
I loved this book and couldn’t put it down once I started reading.  It is much better than a lot of books of the same genre out there because the characters display deeper feelings and the relationships between them are so real.  After finishing this book I HAD to go the library and check out the next in the series.  That’s the sign of a great book.
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