Booklist | 02 October 2012 |

In the first of a 12-book series, Shan introduces B, an 11-year-old antihero living in Britain. B’s gang of hooligans are going about their routine—cursing, stealing, fighting, drinking, and haranguing the weak—when news reports filter in about a zombie outbreak in Ireland. Despite grainy video clips, no one is sure if these are hoaxes or the real deal. Those expecting wall-to-wall, Jonathan Maberry–style zombie action will be surprised to discover a raw and deeply observant tale of a morally questionable kid trying, and usually failing, to move beyond the ingrained racism instilled by B’s father. It is a brave move by Shan to posit such a bigoted hooligan as our protagonist. There is light symbolism suggesting fear of “the other” can be represented by zombies, but this interesting idea is all-too-quickly overwhelmed by a third-act zombie invasion, which feels somewhat rote after the fascinating morality play that came before. Two huge surprises, though, await the reader who gets to the bloody, gruesome end, and these alone will set tongues wagging.

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