Rot and Ruin - Jonathan Maberry The Reapers Are the Angels––and that book is pretty dang awesome. To summarize a bit:Benny Imura lives in the future, zombie-infested America. Kids are required to get jobs by the time they turn fifteen, or their rations will be reduced. When he discovers he isn't good at any of the jobs he tries, Benny realizes he'll have to apprentice to become a zombie hunter, with his older brother Tom. The problem is, Benny blames Tom for abandoning their parents––thus causing their deaths––on the "First Night" of the infestation. So, there's quite a lot of tension going on between the two brothers. But once Benny and Tom set out into the "Rot & Ruin," where all the zombies dwell, Benny starts to realize that there are bigger problems than just the walking dead. There are also dangerous bounty hunters everywhere––some of whom are worse than the zombies themselves. And then there is the mystery of the "Lost Girl," a zombie hunter who has been killing zombies and humans alike ...Now, to break this down into categories:Setting:The story has a distinct, gritty atmosphere and a lot of interesting details. I like the idea of the bounty hunters, the zombie cards, Gameland (which I hope there's a lot more of in the next book!), etc. I've read a bunch of zombie books, but this one stood out as truly unique with its original details.Characters:At first, I disliked Benny. But looking back on the book as a whole, that was probably the point. He starts off as your average teenage boy––impatient and irrational, thinking that hunting zombies would be a piece of cake. But he learns a lot from Tom and from his experiences on his voyage, and emerges a much more mature and likable character. He's still not my favorite protagonist of all time, but I still liked him in the end.Then, there's Tom. Tom. TOMMMM.Well, if you can't tell … I liked Tom quite a lot. In fact, pretty much every time he did or said anything I was just like:I mean, first of all, he is a total badass––with his swords and his general hotness and whatnot. (Also, I tend to have a thing for Asian guys … I don't know why. I just do.) But, Tom is more than that. He's also a very deep and insightful character. He's the one who teaches Benny to not see the "zoms" as simply monsters––but as people who just met an unfortunate fate. I mean, who would have thought I would actually feel really bad for zombies? I think this is the first book that ever made me feel that way … and that was mostly thanks to Tom. So, thanks Tom. You're the bomb. (HEY THAT RHYMES.)Also, when he supposedly died I just wouldn't let myself believe it. First of all, I tend to not believe a character is really dead unless, like, his/her dead body is right there out in the open for everyone to see. Secondly, Tom is just so awesome that I refused to believe it was true. So, when he came back again and he was alive I was all like:Seriously, I was just sitting there banging my face against the book and saying "YES YES YES!" And my sisters were like, "Brigid, are you okay?" So yeah. I think you can see … I am very fond of Tom.Lilah was also a super awesome character. And well, I won't give too much away about her. But she is also a badass, and with a really dark and unforgettable backstory. I'm not sure if Benny really likes her or not but … TEAM LILAHHHH!Speaking of love interests … Nix. Okay. Out of the major characters, Nix was the one I had the most issues with––not as a person, because she seemed like a decent person. I just felt like, I wasn't really sold on her and Benny as a couple. I feel like, in the beginning of the story, she was presented to the reader as That Girl Benny Likes. And even that was mostly just because Benny's friends kept being like "OOOH BENNY DO YOU LIKE NIX." I'm not really sure why, but I just didn't feel that connected to her as a character, and I thought the romance between her and Benny felt a little forced. I could see how she might grow on me, because she definitely has some badassery in her, but right now I'm just like … ehhhh. I mean, I felt like Lilah had more depth to her character than Nix did, before Lilah even showed up––like, just from people talking about her. So … hmm. I guess we'll see how Nix develops in the next books. But anyway, there were some good minor characters as well. Benny and Nix had several other friends who provided some comic relief and fun dialogue and whatnot––like Chong and Morgie. These friends didn't have a tremendous amount of depth, but at least they were likable and seemed like realistic teenagers.THE EMOTIONS:Yeah, I just wasn't really sure how to describe this category. Just … this book gave me a lot of feelings. It was terrifying and heart-pounding in some parts, and very touching in others. As I was saying before, I actually felt bad for the zombies––although that didn't mean that I wasn't still afraid of them. So, I could simultaneously fear them and sympathize with them … WUUUT.But anyway, the relationship between Tom and Benny was definitely the most emotional. What can I say––I just love a good sibling relationship. And it developed so well over the course of the story. It was fantastic how they started out so distant from each other, and at the end were really close.And just, man … DAT ENDING.When they had to "free" their parents … GAHHH. Just, so genius. I kind of saw it coming, but still. It was pretty heart-wrenching. But it was also just the perfect way to end the book, I thought. And it really showed how their relationship had come full circle.So, I can't really think of anything else to say. I thought this book was wonderful. It was exciting and thought-provoking and just … yeah. I am impatiently waiting for the sequel to come to the library for me so I can continue with this story. :)