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  • gilwilson 10:10 PM on March 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , brian hutchison, , , jonathan maberry, , rot and ruin, , , ,   

    “Rot & Ruin” by Jonathan Maberry 

    “Rot & Ruin”
    by Jonathan Maberry
    read by Brian Hutchison
    Published by Recorded Books (2010)
    13 hours and 12 minutes

    Once again I’m amazed at the range of Young Adult fiction genres available. This time around I was just looking for another zombie book to listen to, and I had heard one of Maberry’s other books (actually a couple of them) and his writing was so creative I thought, well, it’s about zombies and it’s by Jonathan Maberry, so I can’t go wrong. Nope, I didn’t go wrong, the story was fantastic, but what surprised me was that this was released as a Young Reader’s fiction, or rather it was written, as a Young Reader’s book. Really, how cool is that, a zombie book with a bit of a coming of age story?

    One of the things I like about MOST Young Adult fiction, is that they usually offer up some sort of life-lesson which the main character learns and matures as the book progresses. Throw in a Zombie Apocalypse, and boom, you know kids would love this book. At least I hope so, because, sure, while it is a coming-of-age/life-lesson book, there are some super cool zombie massacre scenes, and some cool samurai swordplay that totally rocks this story.

    Props definitely have to be given to Brian Hutchison on the reading of this book, with the variety of characters providing dialogue, he did a superb job of vocally separating each character from the main characters, brothers, Benny and Tom Imura, to the various rough and tumble zombie bounty hunters, like Harry Pink-eye and the Makong brothers. He also knew exactly when to emphasize the action and slow down for the moments when something serious was being discussed, keeping the focus on the story and the creative way of telling a coming-of-age story.

    The story begins about 13 years after “First Night,” the night when the dead began to rise and feed upon the living. The world has changed, the zombies still walk out side towns protective walls in what is now known as “The Rot & Ruin.” Benny Imura has turned 15 and that being the age where he must find a job in order to keep getting rations, he searches out several avenues. Most people are surprised he’s not becoming a bounty hunter like his brother. Benny doesn’t care for his brother, Tom. Benny thinks Tom is a coward because of his first memory. That memory takes place on “First Night” where Benny’s mom hands Benny to Tom and Tom runs away carrying Benny as their father kills Benny’s mom. I should point out that Benny and Tom are Half Brothers.

    Benny searches for a job all over Mountainside, the fenced in community where many have settled, so he can keep his rations. He tries for the job as an erosion artist, artists that take pictures of the formerly living and turns them into zombies so bounty hunters can bring closure to the families (at least SOME bounty hunters). Benny makes the zoms too scary so that job is denied him. Seeing an ad for a bottler, Benny thinks cool, bottling soda, that should be great, but as it turns out that soda is not being bottled, instead, Cadaverine is being bottled. Cadaverine is the “essence” of the dead that keeps the zombies from attacking the hunters who go out into the rot and ruin.

    All through Benny’s job searches, more and more is learned about this post zombie apocalypse world, and Benny finally thinks it would be cool to be a bounty hunter. After all he hangs out at the local store hearing tales of expeditions from the roughest of all bounty hunters, Harry Pink-eye. Benny can’t figure why everyone is always saying his brother is the best of all bounty hunters, when Harry seems to have all the greatest stories about the Rot & Ruin.

    Tom takes Benny out to try to show him what a bounty hunter really does and changes Benny’s view of the world. Tom shows Benny that he kills zombies only to bring closure to grieving families, so they finally know what happened to lost loved ones. Seeing a new side of Tom, Benny’s world begins to change.

    In this strange zombie world, the kids all collect zombie cards, cards that depict great moments of the world since First Night, and the heroes and bounty hunters. When the latest release of zombie cards comes out and features a rare card featuring the “Lost Girl,” Benny becomes intrigued. The story is she was left alone to fend for herself in the Rot & Ruin, and is still alive killing zombies.

    Benny finds out that there is more to the story one that involves his brother and some bounty hunters that create extra-curricular activities by forcing men women and children to fight zombies in an arena. Benny and Tom’s worlds are destroyed when the card comes out because the bounty hunters don’t want the world to know about the “Lost Girl” and they kidnap Benny’s friend and head out to find the “Lost Girl,” leaving Benny and Tom on a race against time and zombies to save the innocents.

    Super exciting zombie story with some great life-lessons, give this one a go. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

    • theguildedearlobe 1:35 AM on March 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I love Rot & Ruin, but I really never jelled with the narration for this one. Not that Hutchinson was bad, because he wanted, but he sounded to old for the characters in my opinion and that took me out of the story. I’ve been trying to decide whether to read the next installment of do the audiobook version.


      • gilwilson 1:19 PM on March 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        granted he was older sounding, and that worked for the narration and the many adults and when it came to voicing the 15 year old voices (the youngest of the book) he captured the feel and sound, in my humble opinion.


  • gilwilson 10:11 PM on November 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , berserkers, , , , , genetics, , , jonathan maberry, josef mengele, , , , , unicorns   

    “The Dragon Factory” by Jonathan Maberry 

    “The Dragon Factory”
    by Jonathan Maberry
    Read by Ray Porter
    Produced by Blackstone Audio
    16 hours and 11 minutes

    I love it when an author creates a character that is so strong that it constitutes a revisit or even a series based on the character.  But only when it is a Strong Character.  Jonathan Maberry has created a Strong Character in Joe Ledger.  In the first book, “Patient Zero,” Ledger is a Detective wanting to get into the FBI, what happens is Ledger is recruited to join a new branch of law enforcement called the DMS (Department of Military Science) in which he leads a team to fight off terrorists who have devised a disease that creates zombies.  The DMS is the branch that keeps the country and the world safe from evil that is beyond the scope of reality.

    The second novel in Maberry’s Joe Ledger series starts very soon after “Patient Zero” left off, with Joe visiting the gravesite of one of his oldest and dearest friends. The problem is, the DMS has suddenly been targeted by all the other alphabet soup agencies with the search and seizure order issued by the Vice President of the United States. All the DMS offices and teams soon find themselves under attack from their own government.  Forced to fend off NSA and CIA agents alone, ledger escapes and eventually regroups with the DMS to find that while the President is getting open heart surgery the Vice President is officially in charge and has taken this time to shut down the DMS.  The V.P. as it turns is really a puppet and a mysterious group pulling the strings wants 2 things, 1.) The DMS shut down long enough to institute their plan to destroy the world, and 2.) Mindreader, the DMS computer system that can find anything anywhere.

    The DMS soon learns that the evil afoot is 2 groups of genetic scientists that have genetically created mythical creatures, Dragons, unicorns, centaurs and more.  One of the 2 groups creations are a fighting force which are called Berserkers due to their complete loss of control and destructive chaos the creatures go into when a battle begins.  The Berserkers are super strong, and have a very unique body armor that just cannot be real.  The real threat runs throughout the book in the form of a countdown clock known as the Extinction clock which counts down to when a group of genetic diseases which are prevailent in certain races have been turned into viruses which when released will destroy 6/7ths of the world population leaving most of the Earth’s inhabitants to be whites only.

    From the first word spoken in this book the action begins and never lets up creating a super action story mixed with some horror and some psychological horror.  For the most part the book is told in First person and Ray Porter owns the role of Joe Ledger.  He also creates the voices of the other characters that not only keeps it clear who is talking but he is able to create through superb voice acting a complete persona for each person capturing perfectly their personality and history.  Porter rocks this book, as he did in the first book, “Patient Zero.”  I don’t think I could listen to these books read by anyone else.

    Maberry writes the perfect action/horror novel.  Really! with Nazi clones, genetically created mythical beasts, the perfect evil mad scientist and his 2 mad scientist children (albino twins) (who are pretty creepy in their own right), ethnic cleansing and a race against time this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout every second of the book.  On the good side a team of soldiers that are too cool for words and a young boy hero that shows what pure goodness is all about.

    Now let’s see if I can find the next book in the series “The King of Plagues.”

  • gilwilson 10:04 PM on January 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , jonathan maberry, , , ,   

    “Patient Zero” by Jonathan Maberry 

    “Patient Zero”
    by Jonathan Maberry
    read by Ray Porter
    produced by Blackstone Audio
    Approx 15 hours

    I love zombies, whether it’s zombie movies, a zombie TV series or zombie books, as long as it’s zombies I love them.  Zombies have a way about them, teenage girls can’t get all gushy over them and want to marry them, they are monsters, flesh eating monsters and nothing can stop them, except for a head shot.  There just is no way to really romanticize a zombie, so the horror of them trying to hunt you down and the survival instincts used to fight them off are straightforward and simple, kill or die.

    I thought that there wasn’t much new people could do with zombies that hasn’t been done.  There are fast zombies and the slow zombies, zombies brought from the grave by Haitian voodoo priests, bacteria from a space probe or various other methods of reanimating the corpses, and nearly all zombie apocalypse stories tell of survivors and how they survive while searching for a cure and/or why there came to be zombies taking over their mall, town or country.  This book by Jonathan Maberry actually does do something new, this tells first how and why zombies can be made and then what to do to prevent them.  Picture “Night of the Living Dead,” Rambo and James Bond in a mashup and you’ve got this non-stop action packed horror/thriller where a zombie apocalypse is looming over the horizon.

    The cover of this book says it is a “Joe Ledger novel.”  Joe Ledger being the main character who is pulled from the Baltimore Police to become a special ops agent in a secret branch of the government.   So with that on the cover, I had to find out and sure enough this is the first book of three featuring Ledger, and let me tell you, with the story Maberry weaves and the super cool character of Joe Ledger this is going to be a great collection of stories.  Ledger kicks butt like no other, and he does it with class.  Just roll James Bond, Rambo, Steven Segal, Jean Claude Van-Damme into one and the outcome still couldn’t stand up against Joe Ledger.  He is just that cool and tough.  Plus Ledger has the smart mouth that Bruce Willis’ tough characters all seem to have.

    Anyway, back to zombies.  Yes this is a zombie book.  Since 9/11 terrorists have been trying their best to attack the free world, but it seems they threw their best on that day and ever since their Jihad has just faded into the Afghan mountains.   Well, known terrorist El Mujahid is being funded to create a virus/parasite that turns people into the walking dead.  Ledger kills one of these, or so he thinks, when his task force raids a warehouse in which terrorists are holed up.  When a mysterious government agency called the DMS tries to recruit Ledger, they do so by having him try to handcuff a man in another room.  It turns out that man is the same man Ledger killed, only this time his flesh has rotted a bit more.  After Ledger kills this terrorist twice he is told of the virus/parasite that is being unleashed on America and with all his patriotic duty he jumps on-board.

    His team is to replace two other teams that were taken by surprise as the bodies in a hospital became reanimated from the bite of the original terrorist.  The teams hesitate shooting as women, children, doctors and nurses all begin eating each other and attacking.  Ledger is hired because of his lack of hesitation and ability to assess any situation at the speed of light.

    Pulling the best of the best to form Echo Team, Ledger becomes their leader and they raid a warehouse where more “walkers” are suspected to be found, ready to be unleashed on the population.  When Ledger and his team arrive they find scientists conducting research on the zombies/walkers.  The scientists are releasing the walkers on several captured children.  Echo Team explodes on the scene taking out all the walkers and most of the scientists, managing to save most of the children, although they will need some serious therapy.

    Ledger’s team soon learns that a major final attack of the zombie creating virus is planned and must act fast to not only stop the zombies but to find out where and when the attack will occur.

    This book is solid action from the first word spoken and even the end of the book leaves you with your adrenaline ready to be released for more fight or flight action.  Maberry has created the perfect action zombie story with the perfect action hero to lead the fight.

    The real plus behind this audio book is the seemingly unlimited voice talent of Ray Porter.  His vocal gymnastics lead you down the dark hallways with horror and then exposes the action with expressed excitement.  Porter’s gymnastics don’t stop there, he also is able to vocalize the many accents not only giving the characters accents based on their nationality but also based on their motives and psyche.  His presentation of Joe Ledger is par excellence.

    • Jonathan Maberry 9:53 AM on January 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for that great review! I agree that Ray Porter did an amazing job with PATIENT ZERO. He’s currently recording the second in the series, THE DRAGON FACTORY; and I’m writing the fourth in the series, BOOK OF SHADOWS.

      The Joe Ledger has been optioned for TV by Sony Entertainment. Too soon for details yet.

      There are also some free Joe Ledger short stories available via links on my website, http://www.jonathanmaberry.com; and a new one, “Material Witness” will be posted next week.

      I also have two other zombies novels, if you want to sink your teeth in. ROT & RUIN (Simon & Schuster) is a very edgy post-zombie apocalypse novel set fourteen years after the events of Night of the Living Dead. That also kicks off a series. And this summer, St. Martins Griffin will release DEAD OF NIGHT, a standalone zombie novel set near Pittsburgh.


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