Book Probe | 21 September 2012 | Braiden

After seeing the cover and liking it, I was quite enthused to read it – to read a book about zombies, Darren Shan-style, from “the master of horror.” I haven’t read any of Darren Shan’s previous works; this was my first. But I do know many, including Amber, devour and love anything he writes so I was expecting something spectacular and horrific from Zom-B. I haven’t read many zombie-centric books lately, so Zom-B was the first for a while (Andrew Fukuda’s The Hunt could count though but that’s different). I had expectations for Zom-B because of others’ reactions like Amber’s; I expected a bit too much, I guess. After 200 pages – I’ll admit Zom-B is a fast read with few illustrations to add to the graphicness of it – I left with nothing, besides memories of zombies shoving brains down their throats and of a boy who became just like the father he loathes. The zombies shoving brains down their throats was the only good thing.


I was pulled into Zom-B by the… uh… prologue you could say – the “Then…” – as we were introduced to a character that seems to be important later on down the track and we see zombies and a young boy, Brian, struggling with what he is seeing. Then we get to B’s story. For the first chapter I liked B – we learn about his parents and see zombies on the news and witness a debate between his parents whether what they’re seeing is real or CGI or something else. I liked B for the fact that towards the end of that chapter he prepares to protect his mother from his father, showing a strong trait in our protagonist. And then the book continued and his character went downhill for me – I liked him less and less, consequently putting distance between myself and the book. I felt nothing worthwhile came from it because of that.


A few incidents occur in the book which made me label B as a bully, and with this bullying came racist comments and slurs and loads of bigotry. Although racism is realistic in our world and occurs in those ages too, I thought it was not needed and Darren Shan could have written those scenes differently. (I have nothing against it; I just thought it was stupid.) I suppose, however, that it showed us what influence poor role models and parents can play on children’s behaviours and attitudes – B got it all from his father. But then again you go back to the beginning where B has a disliking for his dad. And then at the end B listens to his dad and does such a terrible act – oh no! – and becomes his dad, and then spends some time brooding what he has done. I found B’s character inconsistent and there was a decline in the character’s likability and maturity. Others would call it a flaw; to me, it’s a flaw that’s too major to seem minor. However, there is a moment past halfway that the aforementioned trait came out again; would’ve liked that to come forward at the end, too.


Darren Shan’s writing voice and “plot” may have deepened the ravine and furthered the distance between myself and the book. If anything, Zom-B is for the lower ages of Young Adult, more to the point where it’s called high Middle Grade. It felt juvenile for what I was expecting from a YA zombie book, especially when the cover has “the master of horror” on the front. I found the story in this book was nothing spectacular, but it is the first of a twelve-book series so Zom-B was an introduction if anything. Nothing surprised me and I won’t be returning for the next eleven books. I may just retreat to Charlie Higson’s The Enemy books or Jonathan Maberry’s Benny Imura series – now they’re fantastic (even if I have yet to read them, hence why I say “retreat”) YA zombie books, with much more to them than just zombies or flesh-eating beings. …Going back to Zom-B and disregarding the “Then…” beginning, the zombies don’t really appear until over halfway through the book.


I guess it all comes down to expectations. I will still keep Zom-B on my shelf even if the only reason to is for the awesome cover.


2/5 stars

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