Darren Shan is the master of horror stories for children and teens. His vampire series, The Saga of Darren Shan, and the Demonata series have been hugely popular. Now Darren has turned to another staple of the horror genre, zombies. You may think that this has been done many times before, but Darren has created a fresh and original zombie tale, with plenty of bone-crunching and brain-chomping.
When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B Smith’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. But when zombies attack B’s school, B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors, making allegiances with anyone with enough guts to fight off their pursuers.
Zom-B is one of the most horrific, gruesome, twisted stories for teens I’ve ever read, and I loved every minute of it! Darren leaves nothing to the imagination, vividly describing the way the zombies crack open skulls with their claw-like hands and devour their victim’s brains. It’s one of the only books that has made me cringe at the actions of the characters, and I couldn’t read it before bed, for fear that zombies would invade my dreams.
I don’t think I’ve ever come across a main character who makes me hate them before either. B’s father is an incredibly racist man, who is part of different groups who want a ‘white’ Britain, so B is brought up with these views. He is a vicious man, who beats his wife and shares his racist views freely. Every time he opened his mouth I cringed and I didn’t really want to hear anything he had to say. Just when you think he might have had a change of heart, he shocks you again. B struggles with these views, but they often take over and B ends up beating up black kids or Indian kids at school. This is the first book in a 12 book series so we will have to wait and see if their views change.
Darren Shan’s zombies are not your average zombie. When you turn into a zombie, your teeth thicken and become very sharp, and claws grow out of your fingers and toes, making them perfect for digging into skulls to get to the brains. It’s not known where the zombies came from, but there is a sinister figure in the book that I’m sure has something to do with it. No doubt Darren will drip feed us details over the course of the series.
There are several shocking twists in the story that blew me away, especially the ending. At one stage I had to reread what I’d just read several times to make sure I hadn’t imagined it. Darren leaves you hungry for more (story not brains) and I can’t wait to get my hands on book two!
5 out of 5 stars
NB: This is not a book for a primary school library. It’s perfect for fans of Darren Shan and anyone who likes horror, including adults.