Please note: as this is a book discussion, there will be significant plot points mentioned in this wrap up. Be warned that there may be SPOILERS for book one in this article! If you would prefer not to be spoiled, consider this as your chance to look elsewhere until you’ve read it.
Life can become crazy, and between long weekends here in Ontario and work obligations for both of us, Michele from Just a Lil’ Lost and I were amazed when we were able to find a weekday where we could meet up for brunch! In recognition of Michele’s limited lunch time, we chose to have our delicious brunch at the decadent and decidedly French MoRoCo restaurant. It was a lovely and charming place to discuss zombies and death!
We settled in with delicious drinks and even better food – a savoury crepe for me, croque monsieur for Michele – before getting down to business. Michele and I both agreed that we were really pleasantly surprised by this book and that we wanted to read on. Benny, we felt, was a great character, and we liked that he actually progressed and grew up during the story, but that he also stayed true to the personality we met in the first few chapters. We also both really, really enjoyed Tom, and were devastated when Tom disappeared into the flock of zombies (a flock? a herd? a murder? What exactly IS a large group of zombies?).
Michele was less enamoured of the relationship between Nix and Benny, as she felt that there wasn’t a logical build up to their relationship, and their kiss in the last stages of the book did not fit her image of their friendship. I didn’t mind it as much, but I had thought that Lilah and Benny might connect, before revising my opinion and shipping Lilah and Tom (hey, no judgements). I loved that Benny and his best friend were goofy 15 year olds, trying to find the easiest gig and realizing after less than a day at each trial job just how much they didn’t want to work there. Their reactions were priceless and completely believable, right down to the hero-worship of the nasty pair zom-hunters.
The portrayal of the zombies was a really interesting twist for both of us. Neither of us expected to feel sympathetic towards them, and the disgust and horror we felt about how they were abused on the way to Gameland was definitely not something we would have thought going in to the book. That Tom gave dignity back to the zombies while giving closure was an important point for both of us, both because of how it demonstrated so much about Tom’s character but also about the divide between how they were treated normally versus Tom’s behaviour. It was a good reminder that these were humans who had loved ones that still mourned them. We both felt that the final scene with Tom and Benny saying goodbye to their own turned parents was particularly well done, and showed just how far both brothers had come in their own growth and grief.
We also discussed how this could be a really interesting movie, but only if the studio recognized and kept the ethnicities of the characters loyal to the book. Michele suggested Harry Shum Jr. and Godfrey Gao as Benny and Tom, and I suggested Willow Smith as Nix. After we parted, I found myself thinking about Lilah, and realized that I would likely want someone like Saoirse Ronan or Amandla Stenberg (Rue from The Hunger Games) in the role. She would need to be able to show that she was tough and capable, but also terribly scarred and afraid to give even an inch.
Overall, this book was a really popular choice for both of us, and we will definitely be reading on in the series. I’ll confess that this book had me on the edge of my seat, and the idea of more of the story taking place in Gameland makes me uneasy. Maberry has written three other full novels and a host of novellas for the series, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Did you read Rot and Ruin with us this month? Don’t forget to link up your reviews over at Just a Lil’ Lost, and to leave your comments about what you thought about it in our comments section. We’d love to know what you thought!