Reviews By Lauren M | 25 February 2013 |

Ever since late 2009, I've been a die-hard fan of Irish author Darren Shan and his multiple horror works (most notably the "Cirque du Freak" series and "The Thin Executioner,"a one-shot). Therefore, when I heard that Shan had plans for a new series in the works, I was elated. Because I love Shan's other books so much, I've come to think that any work of his will be excellent, and so it was with this positively biased attitude that I picked up "Zom-B"--the first book in a (yet-to-be-published) twelve-book series about a zombie apocalypse spreading across Europe.


Though I started reading the first page of "Zom-B" with preconceived hopes and high expectations, I have to admit that I was initially disappointed with the story. For me personally, one of the major things that separates good stories from bad ones is the likeability of the characters, and--at first--there seems to be nothing redeeming about this story’s protagonist and narrator. "B" (the titular character) is a short-haired, smart-mouthed bully of a teenager who carelessly insults blacks and other minorities with very hurtful racial slurs. Normally, I would have been loathe to continue reading a story in which the main character is so despicable; however, because of the sheer brilliance of its predecessors, I was determined to give "Zom-B" the benefit of the doubt and kept reading.


Am I ever glad I did.


As per usual with Shan's stories, the character development within "Zom-B" is a prominent and well-done element: as the story goes on, B evolves in the mind of the reader from a heartless punk into a troubled, submissive kid who is forced into acts of intolerance by a physically abusive and openly racist father. In fact, a personal highlight of the book for me was watching B learn to stand up against racial discrimination and ally with anyone who might be able to help mount an escape from the oncoming hoards of zombies.


Of course, B's gradual transformation isn't the only delight to be found within the book. "Zom-B" is the first of Shan's books to feature illustrations throughout, and these drawings offer somewhat disturbing but visually striking images of the blood, guts, and gore found in the story. Additionally, like any good Shan novel, "Zom-B" is laced with twists and unexpected surprises, the most shell-shocking of them all being (***spoiler alert***) B's gender: towards the end of the story, B is revealed to be a girl. (I for one never saw that coming, but I think there is something pleasantly surprising about a story that has secretly been led by a strong female character since the beginning.)


Overall, "Zom-B" successfully marks the start of another Shan series that looks to be a hit. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a quick, easy, and fun read--the book is only about 170 pages--but I want to caution anyone who is easily offended by racial jokes and commentary, as some of the slurs within the story are more cringe-worthy than the zombies tucking into human brains.


Songs that I associate with "Zom-B":
1) "Why Can't We Be Friends" -- Smash Mouth
2) "Numb" -- Linkin Park
3) "What I've Done" -- Linkin Park
4) "Tension Rising" -- "Kingdom Hearts" soundtrack
5) "Forest Chase" -- Corner Stone Cues

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