It's been 14 years since First Night, when a zombie apocalypse turned America into the Rot and Ruin wasteland and war-torn survivors formed a new community behind a protective fence and away from "Godless behaviors." Rescued at the age of two on First Night by his older stepbrother Tom, Benny Imura, a reticent bounty hunter, must now take a job. The teen begrudgingly accompanies his seemingly cowardly brother into the Rot and Ruin, where he discovers an Old West lawlessness, a gang of renegade bounty hunters kidnapping children to pit against zoms for sport, a mysterious Lost Girl who's lived in the Ruin all her life and Tom's true character. In his first YA novel, prolific zombie writer Maberry (Patient Zero, 2009, etc.) blends a community structure and terrifying zombie chase scenes reminiscent of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth (2009) with the ethical dilemmas (e.g., the power of fear and the nature of evil) of Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series. The result is an action-packed, thought-provoking look at life—and death—as readers determine the true enemy. (Science fiction. 13 & up)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
The delineation between man and monster, survivor and victim is fiercely debated in Maberry's (Patient Zero) thoughtful, postapocalyptic coming-of-age tale. In Mountainside, an oasis of civilization in a world ravaged by zombies, residents must find work at age 15 or have their rations halved. With every other option exhausted, Benny Imura reluctantly apprentices with his older brother, Tom, as a zombie killer, despite blaming Tom for their parents' deaths. As Benny accompanies Tom into the hostile wilderness, he learns how wrong he was about many things, from the supposed "coolness" of larger-than-life bounty hunter Charlie Matthias to the inhuman nature of "zoms" and the true purpose of Tom's work. The eye-opening experiences continue when Charlie kidnaps Benny's potential girlfriend, Nix, as part of his efforts to track down the fabled Lost Girl, who holds the key to a deadly secret. In turns mythic and down-to-earth, this intense novel combines adventure and philosophy to tell a truly memorable zombie story, one that forces readers to consider them not just as flesh-eating monsters or things to be splattered, but as people. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 8 Up--At first glance, this appears to be a retelling of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Delacorte, 2009) but with a male protagonist. But Maberry's vision of a zombie-infested future has more action, more violence, and more emotional depth. Benny Imura was a baby when the zombie apocalypse happened. His first memory is of his mother handing him to his older half brother as she is being dragged down by his zombie-fied father. He resents Tom for leaving his mother, for running away. To Benny, Tom is a coward. To everyone else in their fenced-in town, Tom is the toughest, bravest zombie killer in California. As Benny approaches his 15th birthday, he must find a job or forfeit half of his food rations. After losing half a dozen jobs, he reluctantly agrees to work as Tom's apprentice in the "Family Business." When they travel out into the Rot and Ruin, he witnesses things that change his opinion of his brother and forever alter his perception of the world. He also learns that flesh-eating zombies aren't the scariest or most dangerous monsters around. As with all zombie stories, this one requires a fairly large suspension of disbelief, but once the brothers enter the Rot and Ruin, readers become too wrapped up in the plot to dwell on some lapses of logic. The relationship between Benny and Tom becomes surprisingly complex and satisfying, as does the romantic subplot between Benny and his friend Nix. The length of the book may intimidate some reluctant readers but the striking cover, compelling action, and brutal violence will draw them in and keep them reading.--Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA[Page 121]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.