Zom-B (Zom-B #1)Featured
If You Like Twists & Lots of Violence, Look No Further
My only prior experience with Darren Shan was the first book in the Cirque du Freak series, which we read for my Young Adult Services class in Library School. I remember mostly enjoying it, but for some potty humor kind of stuff I really could have done without. I was expecting something similar here, something for younger YA that like violence in humor. Actually, I think the gore and darker tone of this one definitely skew it up more than I was expecting, despite its brief length.
Another thing I was not expecting: how incredibly British this book is. Seriously, I don't remember if Cirque du Freak is set in Britain, but this one's set in London. There's slang and all of that, which made for a nice change.
Our MC, B is not the typical hero. B leads a group of no-account ruffians, that frequently take sickies from school. They beat up other kids, they pass their classes because the teachers don't want to risk and attack, and they are generally awful, violent people. Expect the first hundred pages, except for the prologue, to be entirely about B's life and little gang, not zombies. If this a concern, don't worry: you'll get plenty of zombie mayhem in gore in the last 70 pages, and, presumably, in the following books.
Yet another surprise waiting for me in Zom-B were the serious themes, both of racism and of parental abuse. B's father clearly turned B into this violent creature, as he regularly beats on B and B's mother whenever displeased. Were their cards for being a racist, B's father would surely be carrying one proudly. He wants all of the foreigners out of England, and doesn't care how that happens. B doesn't believe those same things, isn't a racist. Well, B doesn't think so anyway. However, racist sayings and thoughts creep in and emerge from B's mouth. I thought these themes were just a bit heavy-handed, but I was really glad to see that there was substance to the book, not just gore.
As promised, there is horror galore. The zombies are creepy, with bones spurting from everywhere and the ease with which they can infect. Ugh. There's plenty of brain-chewing to keep the zombie-enthusiasts pleased. Most disgusting and horrifying scene for me was most definitely B's dream about zombie babies on an airplane. Glad to know I'm not the only one terrified by babies. *shudders*
Zom-B offers all the gore its creepy cover promises. You want kids trapped in a school with hungry zombies and plenty of death? You got it. Also, expect twists that you probably won't see coming. Shan certainly surprised me.
My Zom-B Review
Darren Shan is considered a master of horror. His books are intriguing and compelling. They take you to a world full of unimaginable possibilities. This series is no different. It is about a zombie outbreak that puts its character’s lives in shambles. It is a book about the struggle with abuse, racism, acceptance, and reality. This story has blood, gore, tragedy, and humor crammed into one book. Although this is going to be a twelve book series, Darren always manages to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout each story.
The main character, B, grew up in a racist and abusive home. B goes throughout life struggling to pretend to be racist for a father’s approval, while actually fighting against actually being a racist. Always the tough guy, B picks on anyone who stands in the way of the image B has created. The recent news of a zombie attack in Ireland seems like a joke to almost everyone who watches. I mean who believes in zombies right! Although they have the evidence on film, the world just blows it off as some up and coming movie itching for publicity. The main thing on B’s mind is protecting a mother who cannot seem to protect herself. Yet, the majority of B’s actions revolve around the man causing the mother so much pain and suffering. All B really wants is his love and approval. Even the principal of the school seems to agree with the father. B escapes being suspended from school for fighting, for making racist slurs might I add, because they attend the same racist meetings. Only after being called out by one of their favorite teachers on a school field trip does B finally see the severity of their hatred. So is this what prompts B to save a kidnapped Indian baby during this field trip? B rushes after the kidnapper only to realize this is not a normal person. This is some kind of …. MUTANT. At the end of the day, B is a hero and revered by both staff and friends. Yet, the revelry is slightly dissipated by an unexpected visitor. The stranger is weird and makes B feel extremely uncomfortable, and how does he seem to know about the nightmare that has haunted B for years? Days go by with no more word of anymore zombie attack until there is an outbreak at B’s school. They seem to appear out of no where! B and some others decide to find a way out as soon as possible. BUT WAIT! Are the doors jammed? Is this a set up? How will they escape? Oh, not to mention tough guy B has a big secret that is about to be revealed. What will happen? Who will survive? Will B overcome an abusive father and his impending racism? Better read and find out!
Zombies, racism, friendship and survival
When B's father first sees the news reports about zombies in Ireland, he laughs it off. Even if there were zombies, he doesn't care much about the Irish...or blacks, or Indians or anyone not up to his British standards. This bigotry infest B to. At first B makes like it's just an act, just pretending to have this hatred. When B acts out in school though, it seems to be more than just pretend hatred. B's friends also hear about the zombie attacks, they are a bit less skeptical. They are more concerned about B's racism. B's best friend is black and it doesn't make sense for B to hate others based on their skin. When the zombies come though, B will have to decided what really matters in life. Does being a person not native to England make you less important? Can B make it out alive and save some people too?
This is going to have to be a fairly short review. There's is such an amazing twist in this book and since this book is so short, I don't feel like I can talk too much about it without spoiling it in some way. B was an interesting character. It's weird to be in the mind of a maybe racist person. B's father is part of the Klan, so it's interesting to see how that affects B. B's father is also abusive towards B and his wife. B's almost too scared not to be a racist. It made me cringe a little all the hatred that is in this book and radiating from B.
Past the bigotry though, you get the gore. There was definitely a great amount of gore for a good zombie story. The only problem is how long it takes to get to the zombies. B's encounter with zombies takes up a small portion of this small book. It seemed a little rushed once they showed up. It was really amazing still though, but don't read this if you have a weak stomach.
Unfortunately, since this is an ARC I did not get to see the illustrations, but I have a copy coming soon so I'll get to check them out. I hope they fit well with the story.
The last 30 pages or so totally make this book shoot up to 4.5 stars. It was a good 3-3.5 star book before, but the last couple chapters just pulled everything together and punched me in the gut. The book sort of ends with a cliff hanger. I think the ending would work find as a stand alone novel. I crave more, but I feel satisfied with how it ends.
Definitely check this book out if you like a good zombie read. I can't wait for more of this series!
"THEN...It was the darkest, most wretched hour of the night when the dead came back to life and spread like a plague of monstrous locusts through the village of Pallaskenry."
"It's no different in the dream. Except in a way it is. Because I know something worse than a crash is coming. I sense it in the air. The roar of a plane engine is always menacing, but this sounds worse. It sounds hungry."