Booktalk: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

I first read Rot and Ruin because a fellow librarian and blogger had recommended it, and because I enjoy both dystopian fiction and zombies.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it wasn’t just a zombie book (which you might think by looking at the cover), but it also has some very memorable and empathetic characters.  I recently booktalked Rot and Ruin for several 9th grade classes, but I think that this would be an excellent choice to share with any kids in 7th grade and up.  I expect that I’ll also be booktalking this to middle school classes in the fall. 

You can learn more about this book on Maberry’s website.  And BTW, this book is the beginning of a series.  The next book, Dust and Decay, is coming out in August, and I can’t wait to read it!

I’ve decided that I’m going to include the text of each booktalk here on the website, so that if you’re interested in using or adapting my booktalks you can just copy and paste them.  So here we go …


Fourteen years ago, there was a zombie apocalypse.  Today, Benny Imura is fifteen years old.  The only memory he has of his parents is of an event that took place when he was just a baby.  That’s when Benny saw his father, who had already turned into a zombie, attack his mother.  Benny’s brother Tom saved his life, but Benny never saw his parents again.  Now Benny is fifteen years old, and it’s time for him to get a
job.  Either that, or get his food rations cut in half.  Benny tries a
couple of different jobs, but each one is so backbreaking, or boring, or disgusting that he turns it down.  Which leaves him with only one choice.  Work with his brother Tom and learn how to be a bounty hunter.  Leave the safety of the town, go outside the fences, and go out into the wide and dangerous world where he will kill zombies for a living.

It almost sounds like a dream job — he’ll be able to get revenge on the disease that destroyed his family and killed and reanimated billions of people.  But it turns out that being a bounty hunter means learning more about the zombies than he ever imagined.  As Benny follows in his brother’s footsteps, he discovers that he has a lot to learn … about men and monsters, about life and death, and about cruelty and compassion.


  1. Judith says:

    I am getting a little tired of Zombie apocalypses and their aftermath, but this book seems to offer a deeper level to the whole “must eat brains” scenario.

    If it is available on the Kindle, I shall check it out.

  2. Glad you enjoyed the book…and I’m happy that it surprised you. No, it’s not a typical zombie book (actually, most good zombie books aren’t what people expect). The whole ‘eating the brains’ thing is more a movie trope than something from the literature.

    If you or your 7th graders have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line at

    Jonathan Maberry

  3. beabetterbooktalker says:


    Well, knock me over with a feather!

    Thanks for writing back, Mr. Maberry.  I’m a big fan, but you probably figured that out already.  Congratulations on writing an excellent book that made me think and even made me cry, and that’s not something I say about too many zombie books.  Or, come to think of it, ANY zombie books!

  4. I am frankly getting tired of zombie apocalypse scenarios! Games, movies, series, comics, books everything seems to be saturated with zombies recently and frankly it does not interest me anymore. I wish they came up with something original for a change.

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