Book Blog Bonanza | 13 December 2014 | Matthew R Bell

You have to hand it to the author, Mr Darren Shan. He is a master of successfully expanding a story to accommodate a large series, without any dip in quality, and Zom-B Family is no exception. Family definitely ramps up the pace a little - something I wasn't sure was possible - and I can almost taste the end on the horizon. Everything's falling into place perfectly, the story is moving at a good pace and the characters have become ones that I feel so close to. I was addicted before, but with Family being the latest release, I'm already suffering the first symptoms of withdrawal. Now, more than ever before, I need to know what happens.

If you haven't already, I seriously urge you to grab this series and get on the ride. That's nine books into what I think is a twelve book series, so you have lots to devour.

SPOILER WARNING.

B has been captured. Most of her enemies have banded together, and they all want a piece of B for the troubles she's caused them. In the front is child-killing Dan-Dan, and in the hierarchy, he wins. But B's racist and abusive father is again her unlikely saviour. At first shocked, B realises it isn't a surprise that her father would side with the KKK, and use the zombie outbreak to usher in a 'new world'.

She's given one shot to conform, to help the enemy with their plans, to switch side.

But B isn't who she used to be, she's no longer her father's pawn, and she refuses to relinquish her new moral high ground.

Only her passion is short lived.

Dan-Dan hoped she would refuse, and it comes down to one thing.
How much pain can one person endure?

Zom-B Family breaks my heart, it lift my spirits, it's a whole whirlwind of emotions set out perfectly. It was intense. The story within Family is paced similarly to the other books in the series, but there is a definite speed to the plot that lets you in on just how close to the end we are. It's well written, well plotted, with a cast of characters that are unforgettable, and superbly crafted. I feel I get repetitive when describing a Darren Shan work, but that's only because his YA books are such high quality storytelling, and the only way to explain them is to be repetitive.

B has become one of my most favourite main characters ever. Her growth has been a joy to watch, but it isn't until Family I really got the sense she stepped fully into the person she wanted to be. It's due in most part to the return of her father, and even more shockingly, her zombie mother. It's here that B finally confronts her past, where she at last tackles everything that has held her back, the doubt, the guilt. I adored and cheered when B stood up to her father. It was so well done, and had been a scene I'd been avidly waiting for. It's at the end that she, in essence, is set free from her past, when her major source of pain, her mother and father, become one of the truly dead.

The Owl Man remains the most intriguing of all the characters. I just cannot get a read on him, and it fascinates me. He goes about doing his utmost to help B. It's no secret that she's special, but it's this special that has my mind bent on finding answers.

Let's take a moment to marvel over how heartbreaking B and Vinyl's scene was. The latter, in such a short time, became a truly remarkable person.

One thing I was flabbergasted at, in a sort of stunned couldn't-peel-my-eyes-away moment, was Dan-Dan's torture of B. It pushed at the boundaries of what I'd come to expect in a YA novel, even a Darren Shan one, and it works. It had been a long time coming and the character of Dan-Dan will strike fear into anyone. He truly was a horrific but extremely intelligent villain, but that only made it sweeter when our heroine got her oh so sweet revenge.

Family is true to its name. It deal with B's uncertainty over her own flesh and blood, and reinforces to both her and the reader that, while you might love those related to you by blood, that isn't the only family you have. It's pounded into our heads by B's scenes with Vinyl. It's shown to us over and over again throughout the series by her close connection to the Angels. And it's a powerful, and hopeful message to readers.

Book 10 is out in February 2015.

And I can't wait! 

5/5 stars.

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