Apparently zombies are the best thing to hit paranormal books since vampires. I can't see it; dead people do not become more interesting when they rot. So it takes a lot to get me to read a zombie book -- maybe a Hugo nomination, or an appearance on the Cybils YA Fantasy and Science Fiction finalist list. Jonathan Maberry's Rot and Ruin made that list, so it's the third zombie book I can remember reading.
I do know a good song about zombies, though.
The cover reinforced my low expectations; it looked like a zombie would be the main character. Luckily Benny lives and breathes; the zombies are all outside the fenced town that clings to survival after the dead rose on First Night fourteen years ago and destroyed civilization. Unfortunately, Benny is dumb as a rock, with the interpersonal skills of a post. He hates his brother for cowardice, ignoring the supreme respect all decent people extend and the loving care and devotion shown for the past fourteen years (their parents died that First Night). Slowly over the course of the novel Benny learns about his family and his brother, gradually coming to realize that anyone who trains with weapons for hours every day and earns his living dodging zombies and keeps his temper while an idiot teenager screws everything up maybe isn't a complete waste of space. Touching.
Benny is almost as smart with girls as he is with his brother. Luckily the girl who fell in love with him doesn't hold a grudge. The story action moved along nicely, and the society and post-apocalyptic world was fun even if not really all that sensible, and I think kids reading this would have a much larger tolerance for Benny that I did. I had a distressing tendency to sometimes see things from a wider perspective than his, which almost always made him look rather dumb. Sometimes forgivably so; many fifteen years olds have poor career management skills, but sometimes cruelly so, when he casually insults his friends and family. I'll see what my seventh grader thinks; I'm betting he'll stick with Benny's viewpoint and not notice any problems, especially when the action with the bad guys and the zombies gets going.