Thursday 26 September 2013

Review: Zom-B Baby by Darren Shan

How do you know if you're working for a lunatic? Where do you go when you've run out of people to trust? Have you ever heard an undead baby scream? B Smith is out of her comfort zone ...

*** Warning: contains spoilers for previous books in the series ***

Just as B thought she had found somewhere she felt comfortable, with Revitaliseds of the same age, and someone who could mentor her, said mentor, Dr Oystein, dropped that pretty huge bombshell at the end of Zom-B Angels that has left B feeling confused and concerned that she may just have allied herself with a complete nutjob who believes he is God's chosen one. So begins an instalment of this brilliant series that is more about soul-searching than it is about horror and gore. B must decide whether County Hall really is the place for her, but to do so she may have to experience even more of the horrors that exist in this deadly new world.

First off, lets get any discussion of the cover of this book out of the way. I know that some people have found it pretty grim, even by this series' standards, but I personally find it is fitting for both within the series as a whole and this particular instalment. 

Now onto the story itself. We are incredibly fortunate to be welcoming Darren Shan to school next week for an event, and I know loads of the students are getting excited about this. In promoting the event to the staff at the school I have mentioned many times that the horror and zombie aspect of the story is really just a vehicle for a story that covers a huge variety of different themes. As I have mentioned many times before, in my reviews for the first four books in this series, the author covers such themes as racism and bigotry, corruption, genetic engineering, and now religion and belief. However, one element I have not dwelt on enough in my reviews is that of B herself. Maybe that's because the first three books were about setting the scene, world building and establishing B as a character, and the fourth was about really driving the plot forward. 

Now, in Zom-B Baby, B is given the chance to really reflect on what has happened to her and society, with Oystein's epic pronouncement being the catalyst for this period of deep introspection. She has to decide whether Oystein is mad, and in doing so she has to take a look back at her life before the 'apocalypse', and especially her father's racism. This is not something she feels able to do at County Hall, surrounded by Oystein's crowd of sycophants, and so B takes herself off back into the revived-infested streets of London, hoping to find some kind of answers to set her make what is a huge decision. On her journeys she stumbles across and old acquaintance, and I don't think it is creating spoilers to say that she also comes face to face with something that could even rival Mr Dowling as Shan's most repulsive creation to date (the clue is in the book's title).

Zom-B Baby is yet another brilliant episode in a series I have loved from the very first chapter of Zom-B. It arrived yesterday and we had visitors so I didn't get a chance to pick it up until late, but there was no way that I was going to bed before reading it, and so it became another single-sitting read Zom-B book. For anyone out there who thinks that the zombie genre has become tired and generic in recent years, I say get your hands on these books and prepare to have your love of the genre rekindled.

My thanks go to the rather mashing people at Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy to read.


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