Chris Bissette | 03 February 2013 | Chris Bissette

This is the first Darren Shan book I've read, so I can't compare it to his others; hopefully, though, this isn't his best.


The writing is decent and the story rattles along at a good clip (I read it in just over an hour) but it's quite clear that Shan wrote this with a raft of sequels in mind. Nothing is explained (like B's C-shaped scar, or who the Owl Man is) and ultimately this just ends up being a long build up to a zombie survival horror that doesn't really bring anything new to the genre.


In Shan's introduction to the proof edition (which is the version I read - I'm not sure if this introduction is contained in the finished copy) he asks that readers find a way to talk about the book without giving away what he calls a large, important twist. I saw it coming from quite early on, and I'm not convinced it is that big a twist, though I can certainly appreciate what Shan has tried to do. I won't discuss it, but I also can't find a way to write the next part of this review without giving the game away. So, with that said, spoilers ahead...


The best thing about this book is the exploration of bigotry and racism that comes through the exploration of how B deals with both her father's racism and her own racist behaviour. It's a little heavy-handed and unbelievable in places - for example, B's converstion with her headmaster would never take place in the real world - but it's certainly interesting to see it in a teen book that isn'texplicitly concerned with race (as oppossed to a book like 'Noughts and Crosses', for example). It makes for uncomfortable reading at times, and in all honesty some of the most horrific parts of this novel stem from the behaviour of B and her father rather than the zombie apocalypse going on in the background.


Overall it's a fun read, but probably not one that I'll go back to - although I do want to find out what the deal with the Owl Man is.

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