Reviewer's Digest | 25 January 2013 |

When I saw that Irish author Darren Shan had started a new zombie series I had to get it. From reading his Demonata series I had already got a good taste of his writing style and also a brief glimpse of how he goes about writing the undead. Both aspects therefore promised that his new series would be brilliant.


And I wasn’t disappointed I’m pleased to say.


The first book in this series, entitled Zom-B, was brought out at the end of 2012 and is full of completely new and twisted ideas on the concept of the undead.


It starts off by giving us a look into the zombie attack in Pallaskenry, Ireland, quickly moving on to show us the life of B Smith, which is extremely complicated even before the zombies attack. B’s father is a bullying racist and B also has to contend with the regular appearing nightmare of killer babies (I’m not yet sure about the significance of this aspect of the story, but it gets mentioned in the blurb so it must be important, right?). But then the zombies attack and B smith’s world will be turned completely upside down.


I think Shan treads a very thin line with the whole racist slant, as our main character ends up picking fights with different ethnicities all to try to please her father…but deep down she doesn’t believe it and feels ashamed, but too afraid to confront him. As I said, a very thin line. And yet Shan accomplishes it fabulously.


The only thing I would warn anybody about is that it isn’t until like two-thirds of the way through the book that B encounters any zombies, so if you don’t like tension building this is not going to be your type of book. I, of course, do like this as it gives us a chance to get to know the main character and realise that she’s not all that bad, despite the whole racist thing and trying to please her bullying father. And if you keep an eye out there will be clever little messages that hint at what will happen at the end of the book.


However for a zombie lover like myself it wasn’t until the zombies showed their ugly faces that the good scenes occurred. I like the way Shan first revealed the zombies to our main character in the gym, creating this brilliant feel of shock and disbelieve, before absolute chaos erupts as everyone tries to flee from the undead. The scene where B loses her first friend to the virus in the classroom is also rather good, as it’s completely obvious it’s going to happen, but chaos still occurs, resulting in two more of the group being lost along with the first one. I also really like the scene where the group see the ‘organised’ carnage in the canteen, as it’s the first time B, and I think the readers, begin to suspect that things aren’t what they seem and this isn’t some normal zombie attack; it also makes you want to read the other books in the series to see what is exactly going on! And the final scene I like, which reinforces the whole canteen scenario, is when the group encounter their zombie principal, who isn’t like the rest of the zombies they have encountered up until this point. It’s all very mysterious.


And my favourite quotes from the book are:


‘…it soon became apparent that this was a war the living had never been destined to win.’ (Sets a gloomy tone for the whole book, hell the whole series)

‘Put my head between my legs and kiss my arse goodbye!’

‘Someone spray-painted a giant arse on it months ago and I always slap it for good luck when I pass.’

‘That lot don’t know how to find their own arseholes.’

‘Everyone’s afraid of being the one to fail, to dash the hope which we all long for, but don’t dare believe in.’


So there you go…a collection of depressing and/or arse-related quotes.


Overall, this book was very different, surprising and a rather good read. And I’m looking forward to the rest of the series Mr Shan.


An 8.1 out of 10.

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