“After escaping a secret military complex amid the zombie apocalypse, B roams the streets of a very changed London, dirty and dangerous and eerily quiet, except for the shuffling of the undead. Once again, B must find a way to survive against brain-eating zombies–and now also against those who have seized control of the city. With danger lurking around every corner and no one to trust, B has to decide whether to join the creepy Mr. Dowling in exchange for his protection. When everyone around you is dead, where do you turn for help?”
The synopsis makes it look as if there’s a lot happening in this book. That’s a lie. Zom-B City spends most of its pages on developing the character of our protagonist, whilst setting up the world that was hidden from us in the previous book.
Oh, and we get another creepy visit from the aforementioned Mr. Dowling.
To be perfectly honest, I think we could have done without this book. The entirety of this could be summarized into three or four chapters, and added into the previous book–or to the next one.
I kind of want to blame the format for this lackluster book. Author Darren Shan promised twelve books for the Zom-B series. He’s probably plotted out what happens in each book prior to writing the first one (or the second one). And he probably thought this third book would have more going for it. And then discovered too late that it wouldn’t be as plot-driven as he thought it would be.
I thought I wouldn’t mind, to be quite frank. Jonathan Maberry’s Flesh & Bone was not very plot-driven either, and I loved the book. But when I compare the third book of Rot & Ruin to Zom-B‘s, the latter comes up short. Because Maberry has us rooting for a group of characters who are dealing with grief, with changing world views, before delivering an emotional punch in the end.
Shan’s work, on the other hand, is more concerned about how the next twist is going to blow the minds off his readers. It’s a good thing that B, as a character, is very engaging.
It’s just harder to be invested in her, because there’s no sense of threat against B. She’s the solo character in a series. She doesn’t have any friends (not anymore) who we can like and feel scared for.
Zom-B has lost its emotional impact. And that’s not a good thing when your market is already being infested by a million other zombie titles.
But I’m not discounting the merits of the book. It’s still very well-written, and the characterization of B is still topnotch.
I just hope the next book would be better.