Herts24 | 18 March 2013 | Matthew Hearn

After the break-neck speed of Darren Shan’s first two Zom B books in this series of Zombie apocalyptic horror aimed at young readers, this third instalment offers a refreshing change of pace.

 

Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two books – Zom B and Zom B Underground (although they’re well worth reading and do you really want to read them out of order?) – as Shan gives a very handy introduction which lasts two pages, so much better than the long-winded, boring recaps you used to get in the Harry Potter books.

 

Our un-dead heroine, who for a zombie I’m really warming, emerges from her underground compound, blinking and stumbling into a dead and deserted London.

 

It is an atmospheric book which sees her casually sauntering around her old haunts and taking in the iconic landmarks of the great city. Because she is un-dead herself the zombies she encounters don’t really bother her beyond the odd inquisitive sniff and inspection of the hole in her chest cavity.

 

Weeks pass and she encounters a number of odd and deranged survivors trying to make sense of what has happened. This doesn’t mean that nothing happens, as a lot of nasty stuff kicks off at various intervals in the book and particularly towards the end.

 

There is a lot of grim humour in this book, as she wonders if she can make herself ‘even deader’ if she impales herself on a spike when trying a tricky leap to get out of a fenced in compound. Then there are zombies hanging from lampposts and the ‘artist’, complete with easel, who she stumbles across, trying to capture them for posterity.

 

The artist in question also fancies himself as a ‘foodie’ and once properly acquainted with her eating habits offers to cook for her, which leads to one of the best lines in the book so far: “I’d rather eat from a corpse’s head than risk one of his dishes.”

 

Shan doesn’t give too much away regarding the overall plot. We get to find out, very much secondhand as our heroine gleans information from the radio ‘the state of the nation’.

 

Characters from previous books, including the ghastly clown and ‘owl man’ are re-introduced; but there is still no sign of her racist, wife-beating dad, which is probably a good thing.

 

This is Shan’s gripping take on 28 Days Later and there is still more to come – I can’t wait. But what’s he going to call them? Surely he’s going to run out of titles, once he’s done with Zom B Suburbs? Zom B World? Zom B Planet? Zom B Paradise? Zom B Nation?

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