• Wonderoes Zom-B review

    24 August 2019

    There was a review of the first Zom-B book over on the Wonderoes blog recently, by a reader called Danielle, and it's one that really caught my eye, because it dwells on the racism elements of the book and characters, and how I explored them in the story. It was a very risky move, starting a major series by focusing on a character who isn't very likeable, who at their best is a racist enabler, and who at their worst is an actual racist. I hoped that readers would trust me enough to go on B's journey regardless, that they'd accept that I wouldn't be doing this unless there was a very good reason, and I wouldn't lumber them in the long term with a main character that they could only hate. Without giving too much away, B's story is one of a search for redemption, which asks the question -- is it possible to atone for sins of the very highest order?

     

    Being honest, a good number of readers found the racist elements a bit too much to stomach, and weren't prepared to travel with me beyond that first book. I believe we live in a world of greys, and I'm always fascinated with trying to get into the mindset of those who live towards the extreme edges of what the majority of us consider acceptable, moderate behaviour. Maybe I'm a blind-eyed optimist, but I think that where there is understanding and empathy, there is room for change, even among the most despicable of people. Maybe it's my Christian upbringing, or maybe it's just the amount of good, decent people I've met all around the world in the course of my travels, but I believe that most people who have done grievous wrongs DO have the capacity to change paths, to turn away from the darkness, to try and repent for their crimes. But that also requires US to give them the chance, and that can sometimes be the hardest part of any drive by a miscreant to right their wrongs. I understand why some readers were unprepared to give B the benefit of the doubt, and how they maybe felt uncomfortable at being asked to identify with her. But sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone if we want to truly try and change this big, bad old world of ours, and while I'm genuinely sorry that Zom-B turned some readers away, I can't apologise, because I think it's a story that needed to be told, and that it raised issues that needed to be raised -- perhaps even more so now, in this world where the far right is thriving, than it was when I wrote the books.

     

    Anyway, it's an interesting, well-written review that I highly recommend checking out -- and the writer was very careful not to reveal any spoilers, so you can read it regardless of whether or not you have read the book.

     

    https://wonderoes.com/2019/07/24/zom-b-by-darren-shan-book-review-spoiler-free/

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