The Bookbag | 03 February 2014 | Jill Murphy

WARNING: Gladiator is the sixth book in the ZOM-B series, so if you don't want to catch any spoilers, look away now.

 

Don't say I didn't warn you.

 

You're gone, right?

 

Good.

 

Becky Smith is still having trouble adjusting to being a zombie. She's not your run-of-the-mill zombie; she's a revitalised. She can talk and think, unlike the shambling reviveds, who are exactly what you imagine when you think of the undead. It's not an easy life inside the wreck of London, still needing to eat brains to survive, and with little hope for the future. We last saw B when she returned to County Hall and Doctor Oystein, despite her doubts that he really is on a mission from God. At least Doctor Oystein and his band of revitalised Angels have a moral compass, which is more than can be said for the evil Mr Dowling, his crazed clown and warped baby.

 

But B has seen so much pain and heartache that she can't fully commit to the Angels. She takes part in missions, commits herself to the cause, but holds herself separate as much as she can. She's afraid to make any real friends or make any emotional commitments because she can't face any more loss. And losses are unavoidable in this awful new world.

 

And then B runs into zombie hunter Barnes once again. Kidnapped and forced to fight for the amusement of sociopathic humans, she is about to plumb new depths of depravity...

 

I really liked this episode in Shan's zombie saga. It's as fast and furious as ever and I like it when the humans are exposed as the real villains of the piece, as they are here. B meets the politician worshipped by her racist father and Vicky Wedge - great name, huh? - is as mean as you could imagine. There is also a vicious serial killer whose crimes were concealed before the apocalypse because his family was rich and powerful. He was delightfully horrid. Horrider than horrid.

 

But the point of this part of the story is for B to learn the value of friendship - that it's more important than risking loss. You'll have to read the book to find out how this comes about.

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