Review: Zom-B by Darren Shan

April 28, 2013 3 - 3.5 Stars, Darren Shan, Holy Sh*t Cliffhanger, Horror, Post-Apocalyptic, Zombies 6 ★★★½

Zom-B by Darren Shan
Series: ZomB # 1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on October 16, 2012
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic
Pages: 174
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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.
This is one zombie book that doesn’t hold back.  When the apocalypse hits, it hits hard, and the majority of the brain-gorging happens to kids trapped in a high school.  They die in a variety of gruesome ways, occasionally with limbs their ripped off.  B attempts to lead a group of kids to freedom, and the group is slowly getting picked off.
But before we get to the good stuff in this short (180 page) book, we’re first introduced to B and dear old Mom and Dad.  There are news reports of zombies nearby, but B’s parents don’t believe it.  They are convinced it’s a government conspiracy designed to frighten citizens and ultimately allow more immigrants into the country.  (Just go with it.)  This is the first hint that B’s father is an awful – repeat, AWFUL – racist.  He’s never met a non-white person he couldn’t disparage in some sickening way.  He also doesn’t seem particularly fond of white women and children, as evidenced by his physical and mental abuse of his wife and child.  Throughout the book, I was looking for some deeper meaning to the racism.  Would it somehow be used make a connection between humans and zombies?  “Hey, deep down, they’re just like us, y’all!”  But if there was a message here, I never found it.  I think B’s father is just a vile human being, seemingly destined for zombie bait.

At school, the students are just as skeptical of the coming zombie apocalypse as B’s parents.  The students wonder whether the zombies are a result of a government experiment gone wrong, perhaps involving chemical weapons.  Or maybe they’re aliens.  A teacher encourages the skepticism: “Trust no one.  Always question what you’re told.”  But soon, the school is overrun, and there is no denying that zombies are real.

The action is exhilarating, and it leads up to a whopper of an ending.  Where can this story possibly go from here?  I took a peek at the synopsis for the sequel, and I’m intrigued.  How exactly is Darren Shan going to paint himself out of this corner?  Books two and three are already out, so I won’t have long to wait.

Review posted at Goodreads and Amazon.


6 Responses to “Review: Zom-B by Darren Shan”

  1. Octavia H

    I’m happy you enjoyed this! I’m a HUGE zombie fan too but I just couldn’t get past the racism to enjoy the book. I tried (especially since it was so short) but I was too angry to focus on the zombie aspect of the book which, to me, wasn’t even the main story.

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      I read your review on GR after I checked it out from the library, and it certainly gave me pause. You made great points, and I’m still trying to figure out the point of all the racism. Was it part of a larger statement? Does Shan believe that all white people long to be part of the KKK? I still don’t know. There was one part near the end (I don’t think you made it that far) where the racism came into play in a horrible way. Aside from that, I’m wondering if it was just there for shock value.


  2. rivie bleu

    I used to be afraid of zombies lol, until I realized how silly that was, they’re not real. Now I love the Walking Dead. I still don’t understand how they’re supposed to be more than dead people walking around by instinct, this looks like it shows them in their ‘natural’ form, could we call it that? I don’t know, it’s like they shouldn’t be able to think or anything, I don’t know much about them.

  3. Scott Pilgrim

    Fantastic review! I definitely want to read this book because I love Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak series. His books are usually quick but extremely morbid and creepy in a good way. I’d definitely recommend them!
    -Scott Reads It


    I personally loved this book, I gave it an A!
    The racism/zombie moral you talked about, happens in Book #3. It’s slyly worked into the conversations and actions of some secondary characters.

  5. Becky LeJeune

    I’ve been curious about this one. Not sure why I haven’t read it yet! I’m going to have to bump it up but maybe get a few of the follow ups in hand first.

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