Zom-B Mission by Darren Shan review

thZom-B Mission by Darren Shan

Simon & Schuster, March 2014

What has happened to the world since the dead took over?

Where have the humans gone to hide?

Who do the living have to fear?

B Smith is heading for unknown territory…

Leading a group of humans through London and out into zombie-infested suburbs sounds like suicide – but not for the undead! Even so, the horrors of the journey will be beyond anything B has yet seen…

Here is a book that reminded me why I love horror writing. It isn’t just about the scares, or the suspense, or the intensity of reading about characters who are constantly being faced with precarious situations and life or death decisions. It’s because all good horror stories turn the mirror back out to face the real world, revealing its own horrible reflection. And that’s when the real spine shivers kick in…

In Zom-B Mission, book 7 in the Zom-B series, the post-zombie apocalypse world is skilfully and vividly depicted and there are plenty of shocks, twists and turns, and fast-paced action to keep you turning the pages. Our central character and narrator B Smith belongs to a team of Angels (sort of the vigilante undead, ‘revitaliseds’ who are something between zombie and human – sounds odd but the way Shan writes it, it just works) who have been tasked with guiding a group of humans out of central London to a secure compound where other humans are attempting to start life afresh. Of course, they have to fight off their fair share of zombies en route, and there’s always the danger of the humans becoming infected – and the zombie virus is particularly virulent, with merely a flake of dried blood being enough to trigger the horrifying transformation.

But what really got to me was a more disturbing underlying theme. You would think that in a post-apocalyptic world that racism would be irrelevant. That every human life would be considered precious. Not so. In fact, it turns out that it’s the perfect breeding ground for neo-Nazism and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. What’s really terrifying is that it’s believable – it makes sense that the very worst, alongside the very best, in human nature would be brought out by such extreme circumstances.

Weightier matters aside, there is plenty going on to grip your imagination in this riveting read. B Smith is back with a vengeance – gutsy, tom-boyish and tough, yet with an inner human fragility that keeps you on her side. The Angels are a likeable bunch of tough-nuts, and I loved the ongoing back and forth between B and meat-head Rage. With echoes of the battle between good and evil in Stephen King’s The Stand, the sinister Owl Man and freakish clown Mr Dowling are always at the edge of the action, while Angels head commander Dr Oystein does his best to uphold what’s left that’s good in the world. And yes, I’ll happily admit, enough zombie-slaying action scenes to keep you on the edge of your seats.

If you haven’t checked out this very cool zombie series already then do so now! And if you need more persuading, come back tomorrow for my Q&A with none other than the Master of Horror himself, Darren Shan.

 

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  1. Q&A with Darren Shan, author of Zom-B Mission | library4delinquents

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