The Bookbag | 24 September 2014 | Jill Murphy

REPEATING STANDARD WARNING! If you haven't read the first book in this series, STOP READING NOW! NOW! Spoilers ahoy!


Go on. Run along.


Gone? Good.


Just making sure...


Ok. Let's catch you up. B Smith is a zombie. But she's not an ordinary zombie. Innoculated as a child by Doctor Oystein, she retains a sense of self. Zombies like B are known as revitalised and many of them work as Angels for Doctor Oystein, who is engaged in a battle for the future of humanity with the scary Mr Dowling. Betrayed by fellow Angel Rage, we last saw B when she was taken hostage by child-killer Dan-Dan and his wicked associates, whose number includes her Dad, a KKK racist B despises.


It's not looking good for B. Dan-Dan has a score to settle and a penchant for torture. The Owl Man has his own agenda and won't help B unless she betrays Doctor Oystein, something she would never do. And B's father has no power to save her either. There really is no way out.


Blimey, blimey and blimey again. We know that Darren Shan doesn't shy away from violence, blood and guts in his books, but ZOM-B Family really takes the cake for gore. There are fights to the death, torture, maimings and, well, it's carnage, really, from the first to the last page. How much can B take before she gives up the fight? Will her father ever step up to the paternal plate? Will she ever see Vinyl again? Is there any chance, no matter how slim, at all?


Underneath all that, there is a reckoning between B and her racist father that has been a long time coming. It felt that the series needed some resolution for this personal struggle of its heroine. So much of the way B has behaved all along has its roots in being brought up by a racist, by facing and rejecting those values and the conflict it creates for the love which every child feels for its parents, no matter their faults.


The denouement - no spoilers though! - has an inevitable feel. We kinda always knew that B would end up where she ends up. What we don't know is how it will all turn out. Roll on, book ten!


If the Zom-B series seems right up your alley, you'll also enjoy The Enemy by Charlie Higson, in which zombiesm only affects the grown-ups, leaving a Lord of the Flies style environment for the kids. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry is a super-duper post-apocalyptic zombie novel in the style of a revenge Western. And Generation Dead by Daniel Waters takes an entirely different approach to zombies - integrating its living dead teens into daily life and by this exploring prejudice.

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