Between Screens | 07 October 2014 | Alice

I expected to like this book much more than I did. I’d wanted to read it for ages because it’s so popular with my students, and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I’d also read an interview with Darren Shan that made it seem interesting. However, I come away from reading this book a little bit confused and more than a bit disappointed.

 

Perhaps the sequels will be better now the premise is set up. It is a very short novel, and it goes three-quarters of the way through before the actual zombies turn up, and as such I imagine it functions as an introduction to the series as it didn’t feel like a complete book.

 

The protagonist of the story is a character called B. Although I liked the twist on our expectations that Shan pulls towards the end of the book, I otherwise found B a bit of a confusing mess and that is the reason I struggled so much with it. B is not a nice person. B is a racist and violent bully, who picks on the weak and makes some questionable choices. Ok B is the product of a racist and abusive home life; father is a white supremest bigot who does not react well to having his disgusting beliefs challenged. Shan makes some effort for B to explain that those views aren’t shared, but then a few pages later B will beat up a black kid and make gorilla noises. No matter how bad B might feel about that (not that bad I though, not bad enough) it is still something B did! I didn’t find the relationship with the father very eloquently explored or explained, and the things B did were mean-spirited at times that I could never warm to the character.

 

The shock ending I hope is leading to something much cooler for the next book. And I’m intrigued by the guy with the owl eyes. In fact the strongest part of the whole novel is the very creepy prologue.. I’d more happily have stuck with that.

 

I am about thirteen-years out of the target age group for this novel, and perhaps I wanted something too sophisticated.. but I think absolutely it is achievable to produce a more thoughtful book tackling difficult issues for the 13 year old age group. Other authors manage it. Still, I’m not saying it is BAD. It’s very popular and anything that gets boys reading is a winner in my book. Just as a 26 year old woman (with an English degree) I’m not very impressed!

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