Terror-Tree | 11 January 2013 | Theresa darwin

Darren Shan, successful children’s horror author, has launched this new zombie 12 part series for kids (and discerning adults). The first novel, Zom-B, starts in the Irish village of Palliskenry as young 11 year old Brian Barry searches amidst the zombie attacks for a responsible adult to save him, instead coming across a horrific creature whose version of salvation is to kill the boy. That is ‘Then’.


‘Now’ finds teenager B watching the outbreak disbelievingly on the TV news, scorning the news with Mom & Dad. And Dad is a class act by the way; regularly beating up Mom & B and supporting racist and bigoted political groups. Because of B’s Dad’s racism, B has a ‘secret friend’, Vinyl, a black boy named as such because his Dad works in a retro record store.


A good portion of the book is spent building up the tension as B tries to avoid falling into the same racist trap as Dad, whilst still ending up bullying kids. B is a confused character, loving and hating Dad at the same time, ashamed of Dad’s racism, whilst also longing for acceptance. This brings a whole new and interesting dimension to the novel, which surpasses the level of a good zombie romp, whilst still retaining this vibe.


There are some great visual horror touches to the book, particularly in B’s dream sequences, which are really quite creepy and in Zom-B Underground, the teenager’s first encounter with the strange Mr Dowling. Visually, both books are strong as well, boasting fine interior artwork to illustrate key passages.


B Smith is, as mentioned earlier, a complex character, reminiscent of the likes if Danny McCoyne from David Moody’s Hater series; flawed, yet likeable.


There is so much more to this book than I expected there to be. With a couple if neat twists, some age appropriate visceral horror and laugh out loud humour, Shan again proves he is a top notch children’s writer.

 

This brings me on neatly to Zom-B Underground, the second book in the series released Jan 2013. This book starts with a quick summary of the events in the first book, before launching in with B Smith awakening after these events. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I’m keeping this short & sweet. B wakes up in some sort of military complex, held prisoner underground and interrogated by doctors and the military. Eventually let into a relaxation area, B meets similar teenagers trapped in the underground complex. B has some difficult choices to make as the book progresses, and as with the first book, there is plenty of action, horrific moments and great character development.
I look forward to the next installment.

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