Book: Zom-B City

"Zom-B City"

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.

Now, let’s find out what other bloggers have said about the book:
Cheezyfeet Books
The Book Zone (for Boys)
The Book Gazer

Book: Zom-B Underground

"Zom-B Underground"

Can you hold on to your humanity if you’re a monster?

How do you face the present if you’re haunted by the past?

Where can you turn when you’re trapped in a living nightmare?

For B Smith, death is not the end!

B is a zombie, but unlike most of the walking dead, B’s brain still works. There are others who survived the transformation into zombies, too. They call themselves zom heads. The world’s gone mad, populated by mindless flesh-eaters, and what little is left of the government has plans for B and the other zom heads. It isn’t a pretty future.

Waking back up should be a blessing, but B soon realizes that consciousness can also be a curse…

I don’t remember liking the first book much when I read it, but I don’t hate it. And since I already had the second book, I thought I might as well read it. After all, it’s not like it’s gonna take up a lot of time. And reading the first few chapters, I was prepared to be as unaffected by it as I was with the first book.

Until I wasn’t.

The first book had one thing going for it: B. As I said in my post about the first book, she’s a wonderful character study–of a girl who was being groomed to be racist by her abusive father. In this book, she’s still our protagonist–and she’s now a zombie. A thinking zombie. And her journey of self-realization continues even after death.

Nothing much actually happens in this book. We finally get the plot about the mutants and the controlled zombies moving with the introduction of Mr. Dowling, but we still don’t know what they are and why they are doing what they’re doing. We have a facility full of scientists trying to understand why some zombies come back with their brain functions still intact, but we don’t really go anywhere with that either.

Zom-B Underground basically just continues with the development of B as a character. She’s becoming a better person in death. And now that she’s completed her development, of sorts, maybe we’ll see where the story plans to actually take us.

That’s the only reason why I’ll be picking up Zom-B City, the third book in the series. Hoping that we’ve finally come to know B enough that the author will trust us to follow her through whatever twists and turns he has planned.

Because I really want to find out what the effing hell is going on in the world Darren Shan has created. And that is, if not some masterful writing, is an amazing marketing ploy to get more money from readers. By splitting the story throughout so many books when just a couple would’ve done.

Anyway, it works. I’m going to head out and buy the next book.

In the meantime, check out what other people have to say about Zom-B Underground:
Books of Amber
The Book Zone
The Book Gazer

Book: ZOM-B

"ZOM-B"

When the news starts reporting a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B’s father thinks it’s a hoax–but even if it isn’t, the two of them joke, it’s only the Irish, right?

That is, until zombies actually attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers. But when they come face to face with the ravenous, oozing corpses, all bets are off. There are no friends. No allies. Just whatever it takes to survive.

First of all, the fact that B is a girl took me completely by surprise.

Oh, don’t worry. That’s not really a spoiler. Or, at least, I don’t think so. Her gender doesn’t affect the story much, except how you look at the events prior to the reveal. It actually makes the novel better, come to think about it now.

But before you’re fooled into thinking that this is actually a novel about zombies–it’s not. Well, it is. There are zombies in this book, but this book is not about zombies.

It’s about B. And her dad. And her mom. Her friends. How she chooses her friends. How she forms her relationships, and how she makes decisions, because of her dad, her mom, and her friends.

This book is about B, a girl who has to live up to the demands and expectations of her father. The father she loves. The father she hates.

And ZOM-B is a brilliant book. About the psyche of a troubled child, about racism, and how it’s harder to see the monster in us than it is to see the ones that surround us.

Oh, and sure, the zombies aren’t very original. Author Darren Shan does add a new twist into the mythology, but for the most part, the zombies aren’t that interesting. But then again, we don’t really read zombie novels for the zombies, do we?

We read these kinds of novels for the humanity. The people who inhabit this world that has gone crazy.

And Darren Shan has created a marvelous character study with his protagonist: B.

I’ll probably just continue gushing about how brilliant the character is, so I’ll end this hear–and leave with you with some links that would actually have reviews:
Alexander Gordon Smith
Totally Bookalicious
Miss Literati

I read through their reviews, and I thought it would be worth mentioning to note that Miss Literati seems to have mistaken B for the first character we meet. Just thought I’d point that out.