Sunday, 10 March 2013

Review: Zom-B City by Darren Shan


How many survived the zombie apocalypse?Where do the living hide in a city of the dead?

Who controls the streets of London?

B Smith is setting out to explore...


Warning: this review will probably contain spoilers for Zom-B and Zom-B Underground so do not read on if you haven't yet read these two books.

I think that as this series progresses my reviews are likely to get shorter and shorter for fear of creating spoilers. There are so many clever and jaw-dropping moments in the three Zom-B books to date that I would hate for someone to stumble across a review for one of the later books in the series before they have read the books that preceded it. So please forgive me for the brevity of this review, its shortness is my little gift to the uninitiated :-)

Before I say any more about the content of Zom-B City there is one burning issue that I want to focus on and that is some of the negative reviews that the first couple of books may have attracted. Now I am a firm believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and naturally given their content these books will definitely not be to everybody's taste. However, some reviewers have made negative comments based on the incompleteness of the story and their feelings that it leaves the reader hungry for more. 

Durrrr! Surely that is the point? These books were written to be episodic in nature - sort of a literary form of the old Universal and Republic serials, designed to leave readers clinging onto the cliff by their fingernails, desperate to visit the cinema the following week to find out what happened next to Flash Gordon/Zorro/Jeff King/Crash Corrigan/etc. It's not as if readers have to wait a whole year for the next instalment, unlike many series books these days. With one being released every three months I think the books fit this strategy perfectly, and it's a great way to engage reluctant readers, although my one small concern is that some parents may find the hardback price a little prohibitive.

In Zom-B City we see B emerge from the underground military complex as the only survivor following the zombie attack of the previous book. B finds herself in a seemingly deserted East End, deserted that is except for the numerous reviveds that now wander the streets looking for food. These mindless zombies ignore B once they realise that B is dead just like them, leaving her free to roam unmolested. Once she has kitted herself out with new gear she starts to walk tall, even giving herself the tongue-in-cheek title of Queen of the City. However, she is brought back to earth with a bang as she quickly discovers that there are more than zombies on the streets, although some of these uninfected may just be as inhuman in their actions as the brain chomping reviveds. One of them in particular, although not a threat to B, comes across as more than a little crazy given his rather gruesome hobby.

I'm still wary of creating spoilers but I will say a couple more things, as I know there are fans out there who will want to know this: Mr Dowling the clown is back, and even more nasty than he was described in Zom-B Underground (Shan's gory imagination runs riot with this character); and also, two simple words..... Owl Man!!!!

At just 213 pages and including more of Warren Pleece's excellent illustrations this is yet another quick read that Shan fans will fly through, especially given the furious pace of Shan's plot. I read somewhere that Darren has stated that the first three books are very much setting the scene, and the fourth is where the story really kicks off. I can't wait, and luckily for lil' old impatient me the next book, Zom-B Angels, is scheduled to be published in June so not long to wait. Zom-B City is due to be published on 14 March and my thanks go to the lovely people at Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy to review.


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