Author: Darren Shan
Genre: YA Horror
Series: Zom-B (Book 1)
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 174 Pages
ISBN-10: 031621440X (LB Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0316214407 (LB Teen)
Reviewed by: Kristie
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.
Quick & Dirty: A horror novel that takes a while to get to the horror unless you count the racism and bullying within as horror. Not a novel for everyone, definitely not the squeamish.
Opening Sentence: 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.
Zom-B is a young adult horror novel about B, a twelve-year old with a penchant for bullying and racism. The novel actually starts out in a town in Ireland that gets attacked by zombies and is told through the point of view of a little boy as he sees his mom devouring his dad and then trying to run for his life. The beginning ends with a shocking scene but it becomes the starting point for the world learning about the zombie threat.
After the initial zombie attack, the next two-thirds of the novel is just about B and building up this character. B really has no redeeming qualities. Everything that B is he has learned from his father. B’s father is a racist, a bully and an abuser. B spends most of the novel trying to justify his behavior and not be like his dad. He insists that he is not racist but continually picks on others, always starting fights for no reason, telling off people of other races. B even tries to say that he isn’t starting the fight because of their skin color but because these people told on him or just plain had something he wanted. B ends up doing one good thing in the novel but is reemed for it because he saves a child of another race so he ends up being embarrassed by the whole ordeal.
Needless to say, B’s dad doesn’t believe the zombie attacks are real. He just thinks that it is a promotional stunt done by the movies or maybe even the government. So B spreads that belief around to his friends so that they all don’t believe it. B’s friends all have terrible nicknames that B has given them and there are so many that it is kind of hard to keep track of. Especially remembering if they are a friend or someone he bullies.
When the zombies finally get back into the picture, Zom-B is a little scary. The zombies themselves are terrifying and not quite like the zombies we are used to which is a nice/gory touch. The kill scenes are a little graphic and over the top. This story may not be suitable for everyone. B suffers from a nightmare which almost gave me nightmares about it. There is almost nothing scarier than talking babies and serrated teeth. Almost…
Zom-B does hold a couple of surprises that held me to the end of the book. The world of racism and bullying is a terrible one and combined with zombies just make this kind of a downer read but a very quick read. I feel like Zom-B may have been trying to send a message about how horrible and terrifying racism can be but I’m not quite sure. The ending had a little bit of a redeeming factor but I’d have to see if the next novel ends up redeeming the character’s choices in this one. I have a hard time seeing how this is going to be a 12 book series especially based on the ending of this one.
I’m having a hard time with this review because this book is not for everyone. There are things about it that people aren’t going to like. The zombie part of the storyline entertained me and I think knowing that there were twists help push me through to the end because I really wanted to know what was going to happen but overall B was not sympathetic to me. If B had tried to stick up for himself sooner then maybe I would have liked him as the main character. Trust me, it is really hard to write this review without giving anything away so for people who have read this novel please forgive me my errors.
“Put down the baby,” I snarl.
In response the man pushes back his hoodie with his free hand. I feel my face go pale. He looks like a mutant put of a horror film. His skin is disfigured, purplish in patches, pustulant, some stripes of flesh peeling from his cheeks. Straggly gray hair. Pale yellow eyes. He’s missing some teeth, and those still intact are black and cracked.
He points at me and I note absentmindedly that he doesn’t have any fingernails, just filthy, bloodstained flaps of skin. He stares, eyes widening, and crooks one of his fingers, like he’s trying to hypnotize me.
I think about tacking the mutant but I’m not gonna make the sort of dumb mistakes that people make in horror flicks. Taking a step back, I scream as loudly as I can, hoping that guards will come running.
Footsteps behind me. The man I knocked down outside the shop rushes past. He half twirls and spits at me. He looks like a mutant too, like he’s survived a nuclear war and is suffering from radiation poisoning. I think for a moment that the pair of freaks is going to attack me. But then I hear lots of people coming, muttering and shouting. A woman shrieking, “My son! Don’t hurt my son!”
The mutant holding the baby looks past me and his face twists with fury. He sets his sights on me again and leers. He licks his lips lewdly — his tongue is shriveled and scabby.
As the footsteps draw closer, the man raised the baby high, then throws him at me. I grab the boy like a ball, cushioning him as best I can. I fall backwards and land on my bum. The baby sits in my lap and laughs, poking at my nose with his chubby little fingers.
I look up. The mutants have fled. They’re moving fast now that they don’t have the baby. They reach the gate and seconds later they’re gone, out of sight.
Just before the crowd catches up with me, I stare into the baby’s face. I half expect him to smile sinisterly and say, “Don’t be afraid, Mummy,” like the babies in my dreams. But of course he doesn’t. The is the real world, not a nightmare.
Then I think of the two me, their unnatural skin, their yellow eyes. And I wonder.
3. Zom-B City
4. Zom-B Angels
5. Zom-B Baby
7. Zom-B Mission (April 8, 2014)
8. Zom-B #8 (July 8, 2014)
FTC Advisory: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of Zom-B. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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