Inis | 31 October 2013 | Alexander Gordon Smith

The second book in the new series from master of horror Darren Shan. Months after a zombie outbreak, B Smith wakes up in a subterranean military complex as one of the undead. Along with a group of teenage ‘revitaliseds’ – zombies who still have some of their brain functions – B discovers that all is not what it seems underground, and that the living dead may be the least of their worries.

 

Zom-B ended with two huge twists, making it a hard act to follow. But if anything, Underground is even more terrifying and unpredictable. The eponymous setting creates an atmosphere of panicked claustrophobia, keeping readers on the edge of their seats. Even during its quiet moments Underground is a tense and sometimes unsettling book, but during the action scenes Shan ratchets the horror up to 11 with some of his goriest moments to date. The author avoids all the zombie clichés, reinventing the genre in the same exhilarating and surprising way he has already done with vampires and demons.

 

Combined with some swearing and adult themes, the violence makes this series more suitable for older readers. Saying that, Underground is never violent for the sake of it. Like Zom-B, this book raises some difficult but important issues – never explicit, always buried in the heart and soul of the story. It is clever stuff, and does what all good horror needs to do: makes you question the world, and yourself. At just over 200 pages – complete with vivid illustrations by Warren Pleece – readers will devour this book for its frenetic pace and bloodthirsty action, but along the way they will become better people for it. Highly recommended.

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