Horrorbug | 26 October 2012 |

Darren Shan’s book ‘Zom-B’ is a light and quick read, targeted towards younger horror fans, illustrated with a set of raw minimalistic comic book style drawings, and definitely worth reading even when you are not in your teens anymore. Not only do Zombies play a big part in ‘Zom-B’, just like the title suggests, author Darren Shane brings his story back to the intentions and use of the undead of George Romero’s iconic films, addressing social problems, racism, and bullying, yet without exactly using the Zombies as a metaphor for all that is wrong with society. The plot is set in modern day London, but could as well play out in any bigger city around the world where the school building could indeed be “a cesspit”, and bullying a part of everyday life.


It all begins with a chapter entitled “Then”, and a boy named Brian Berry who is having a bad nightmare, or so he believes, but all the zombie activity he experiences is just too real. What is happening to him is the first twist in the story, along with an obscure character you might think will be important for the book, but only has one more appearance after exiting the stage. Keep in mind, this is the opener to a series of 12 books, and who knows what else the author has in store for us and his characters.


The following chapter “Now” introduces us to the story of B. Smith, who is torn between the love for his warm hearted cowering mother, and his often violent and abusive father who is a heavy drinker and light at hand to physically attack the mother. B is trying to stand up for her against him, often ending up being the one suffering from his violent behavior. The father is also a racist, an attitude B despises yet regularly pretends to adopt to please his father, hating himself for it every time.


We see scenes at school with teachers who are not all on the good side. A close encounter on a school trip with a Mutant makes B an unlikely hero in the eyes of his classmates, although he himself does not want to be a hero at all. His father, because of his deeply rooted racism, refuses to acknowledge B’s deeds for what they are. Enter the zombies: The whole school is invaded by the undead, and B and his group of friends find themselves fighting for survival, trying desperately to avoid the brain eating and being transformed into zombies themselves.


In a colorful language, Darren Shan tells of their adventures, and just when you think you know where it is all going, here comes the next twist. Actually, two twists – which will both throw you off completely. But then again: we are awaiting 11 more books in the series.

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