A Reader of Fictions | 14 August 2012 | Christina

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.

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