Review: Zom-B

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Zom-BZom-B by Darren Shan
Series: Zom-B #1
on October 16, 2012
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Post-Apocalyptic
Pages: 174
Format: ARC
Source: BEA

When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B's racist father thinks it's a joke-- but even if it isn't, he figures, it's ok to lose a few Irish.
B doesn't fully buy into Dad's racism, but figures it's easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. And when dodging his fists doesn't work, B doesn't hesitate to take the piss out of kids at school with a few slaps or cruel remarks.
That is, until zombies attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers.

First Sentence: “Then…It was the darkest, most wretched hour of the night when the dead came back to life and spread like a plague of monstrous locusts through the village of Pallaskenry.”

My only prior experience with Darren Shan was the first book in the Cirque du Freak series, which we read for my Young Adult Services class in Library School. I remember mostly enjoying it, but for some potty humor kind of stuff I really could have done without. I was expecting something similar here, something for younger YA that like violence in humor. Actually, I think the gore and darker tone of this one definitely skew it up more than I was expecting, despite its brief length.

Another thing I was not expecting: how incredibly British this book is. Seriously, I don’t remember if Cirque du Freak is set in Britain, but this one’s set in London. There’s slang and all of that, which made for a nice change.

Our MC, B is not the typical hero. B leads a group of no-account ruffians, that frequently take sickies from school. They beat up other kids, they pass their classes because the teachers don’t want to risk and attack, and they are generally awful, violent people. Expect the first hundred pages, except for the prologue, to be entirely about B’s life and little gang, not zombies. If this a concern, don’t worry: you’ll get plenty of zombie mayhem in gore in the last 70 pages, and, presumably, in the following books.

Yet another surprise waiting for me in Zom-B were the serious themes, both of racism and of parental abuse. B’s father clearly turned B into this violent creature, as he regularly beats on B and B’s mother whenever displeased. Were their cards for being a racist, B’s father would surely be carrying one proudly. He wants all of the foreigners out of England, and doesn’t care how that happens. B doesn’t believe those same things, isn’t a racist. Well, B doesn’t think so anyway. However, racist sayings and thoughts creep in and emerge from B’s mouth. I thought these themes were just a bit heavy-handed, but I was really glad to see that there was substance to the book, not just gore.

As promised, there is horror galore. The zombies are creepy, with bones spurting from everywhere and the ease with which they can infect. Ugh. There’s plenty of brain-chewing to keep the zombie-enthusiasts pleased. Most disgusting and horrifying scene for me was most definitely B’s dream about zombie babies on an airplane. Glad to know I’m not the only one terrified by babies. *shudders*

Zom-B offers all the gore its creepy cover promises. You want kids trapped in a school with hungry zombies and plenty of death? You got it. Also, expect twists that you probably won’t see coming. Shan certainly surprised me.

Favorite Quote: “It’s hard to believe I can make a joke at a time like this. But as awful as this is, as shocking as it’s been, I have to go on. At the moment I’m alive. Those of us in this group have a chance to get out and fight another day. We have to cling to life as tightly as we can, put the atrocities from our thoughts, deal with this as if it were a surprise exam. What I’ve learned today is that when crap hits the fan, you can sit around and get splattered, or you can take it in stride and do what you must to get away clean. I’ll have nightmares about this later, maybe full-on nervous breakdown, but only if I keep my cool and stay alive.”

6 responses to “Review: Zom-B”

  1. I just read this! I really liked it, but sadly, I had the major mega twist spoiled for me, even though there is a GIANT request from the author on the first page to not spoil it for everyone else. What a jerk.

    I can’t wait to see what happens in the next installment. I have no idea where it’s going to go.

    I, too, loved that there were heavier themes to this book besides just the horror of society falling in on itself. The racism and abuse and the nightmares made for a way more interesting character, even if I didn’t necessarily like B.

    • Christina says:

      Yup, I read the giant request from the author and really liked his tone. He’s entertaining. Wow. I can’t believe people still spoilered it. They either tl:dr’ed the request or just hate him and want him to die. I mean, I guess I would have if I’d one starred the book, but I would have been all SPOILER ALERT. The review wasn’t as hard to write as I was expecting from all of his warning though.

      Me either! It’s not my favorite book ever, but it’s fun and he did some daring things.

      Precisely. I didn’t like B, but I liked B better for all of the introspection and navel-gazing.

  2. Lilian says:

    “potty humor kind of stuff”

    “They beat up other kids, they pass their classes because the teachers don’t want to risk and attack, and they are generally awful, violent people.”
    ugh. What kind of hero is this?

    “how incredibly British this book is”
    I can rarely ever tell if a book is British, unless words like “bloody,” “biscuits,” or “tea” show up.

    “B doesn’t believe those same things, isn’t a racist. Well, B doesn’t think so anyway. However, racist sayings and thoughts creep in and emerge from B’s mouth.”
    I find it interesting when the character thinks he isn’t something but his actions say otherwise. The denial makes him a realistic character.

    *looks at your Goodreads widget*
    OOO, you are reading False Memory!

    “zombie babies on an airplane.”
    O_O I’d think they’d be the easiest to kill. *imagines Wack-a-mole*

    “There’s plenty of brain-chewing to keep the zombie-enthusiasts pleased.”
    Not my thing. How do you even describe brain chewing? This book just sounds disgusting.

    • Christina says:

      Don’t read Artemis Fowl. You will not like it at all.


      There was a bunch of British slang which clued me in. Like calling slutty girls slags, although that’s also happening in an American one I’m reading now which is weirding me out.

      Yup, the racism stuff was probably the best part, even if it was a little heavy-handed.

      I am. I finished, but I don’t know when I’m posting my review yet. This is one of those books where I haven’t found the right song yet. *throws tantrum*

      Maybe, but babies are horrifying.

      Well, first you start out by cracking the head open.

  3. aLilLacey says:

    “It’s a big, sprawling, vicious tale…a grisly piece of escapism, and a barbed look at the world in which we live.” I’m horrified just reading that about the book. Eeek. No blood and guts and gore for me. Thanks for the review though and you’re ago brave lasting through a book like that.

    • Christina says:

      Hahaha, I’m pretty used to reading books like this, but they’re definitely not for everyone. Shan does like to make things gruesome, because he’s trying to appeal to teen male reluctant readers. It’s like: “You don’t like books, you say? What if THERE IS BRAIN-EATING?”

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