Nerd Span | 18 September 2013 | Shannon Kopcsik

A zombie book without zombies could be the tagline for the young adult novel Zom-B by Darren Shan. I had been so excited for this book, with the idea of seeing the onset of a zombie apocalypse from the perspective of a teenager and their friends. I was sorely disappointed up until the last twenty pages of the book.


There are mentions of rumors of zombies attacking in seemingly far off countries and towns but for about 75 pages or so of the 120 page book, there are not really any actual zombies. I will own that there is a short story about a zombie from one of those far off countries at the very beginning that sets a frantic and violent standard for the book that is lost in the rest of the story up until the very end.


So if this book about zombies has hardly any zombies or interactions with zombies, what is it about? The story revolves around B who struggles with being a bully at school, an abusive father at home whom is teaching her how to be racist when she knows underneath being racist is wrong. B has a few disputes at school and at home that test her moral compass as well as her ability to and conviction to stand up for herself, which she often fails in favor of looking good to whoever she is with at the time.


This story could have been a great demonstration of racism in modern or a slightly futuristic society but instead the tale fall flat and I had to put the book down several times and come back to it a week or more later to be able to finish it. Darren Shan could have utilized the zombies and that setting, reminiscent of how The Walking Dead manages this commentary, to more artistically and smoothly illustrate the motives and tendencies towards or against racism but the opportunity is missed time and again through immature descriptions that talk down to the characters and the reader.


I am glad however that I did eventually get through the book because the last fifteen to twenty pages really popped and I looked back wondering why the rest of the book couldn’t have held that excitement, character development and bloody gory messes, because let’s be real here, that was why I picked up the book to begin with. Interestingly, I think that the author was trying to build a suspenseful new zombie mythos with zombies controlling other zombies. The problem is that the mythology was never fleshed out and the brief encounter the reader has with the information and descriptions is only enough to leave them confused and questioning the rest of the preceding story but not enough to be intriguing or motivating.


I do not recommend this book and wish I had not spent my brain power and time trying to like the story or any of the characters. Even though a small part of me wants to know the story behind Darren Shan’s Zom-B mythology, I will not be reading any of the rest of the series to learn more. I was sorely disappointed and had to watch some Zombieland movie action to make up for the lack of excitement, but hey I seem to be the minority if you look at the reviews elsewhere online, so take my zombie loving opinion as you will. I say find another zombie book to feed your brain’s bloody cravings as this one will leave you with a bad taste and still hungry.

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