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.

Book: Dead of Night

"Dead of Night"

A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in hte grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side effects. Before he can be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang…but a bite.

I was going to say something about this book in relation to a series of books that author Jonathan Maberry has written. And then I realized how much a spoiler that was going to be. So I’m going to hold that thought back and give you my assessment of this book without relation to any other stories.

The book was nice. Better as it came closer to its end, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t good before then. Well, it was a tad slow-paced. Much slower paced compared to Maberry’s other books. But, in this case, it helped in establishing character.

Weird thing though–

The events described in this book all happened within a day. It felt much longer. The book, after all, only kicked into high gear near the end.

But I still liked it.

My gripe against Michael Grant’s Gone books, with its series of red shirts who die as soon as they’re introduced, gets turned in its head in this book. We get red shirts, and they too die way too quickly; but while they don’t provide traction to the development of the characters we’re following, they don’t detract from them either. In fact, their little stories help in coloring this world in better.

Later on, this even serves as a character upgrade for one of the main protagonists.

My other gripe against the Gone series, with its some times too separate story lines is how, in this book, the stories are still tied together at its core. There are no separate concerns that one set of characters are involved in that doesn’t, in one way or another, connect to the concerns of the other characters.

If there’s anything to complain about in this book, it’s that we don’t get as many updates on a couple of peripheral characters who play a bigger part near the end.

Oh, and the missing time between a certain character’s disappearance to his reappearance later on in the book. This touches on a whopper of a spoiler though, so I don’t know how I’m going to discuss this…

Basically, a character leaves. Starts moving. And yet ends up in a place that another character reaches in a shorter time. While partly walking there. I’m sure there’s an explanation, but I thought the ribbon was a bit too perfectly tied on that bow.

I realize that that statement makes absolutely no sense unless you’ve already read the book. Which you should.

Don’t believe me? Then check out what other people have to say too!
Fantasy Book Critic
Speculative Fiction Junkie
Enough is Enough

And I just realized how I started with I’m not going to compare this to other books and proceeded to do that anyway. Oops.

Book: Zombies versus Unicorns

"Zombies versus Unicorns"

Which is better, the zombie or the unicorn?

Some of today’s finest writers have chosen their side, creating dazzling stories about both creatures. Are you Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

This took me forever to finish. Forever and a day. And I am totally going for the dramatics here, but the fact remains that–I am neither Team Zombie nor Team Unicorn, if these are the stories to argue for their cases.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Some of them have really interesting premises, some of them have a good handle at story telling. In the case of Carrie Ryan’s Bougainvilla, it’s a mix of both. But none of the stories really stand out. I mean, save for Bougainvilla, but after that story, I couldn’t find another one that interested me enough to have me keep reading.

I especially loathed the unicorn stories. Save for Meg Cabot’s Princess Prettypants which was a very fast read, but offered nothing in terms of brilliance; and Kathleen Duey’s The Third Virgin which was pretty bleak, the rest felt…ordinary, uninteresting, and a chore to read. I fell asleep a lot of times while reading the unicorn stories, save for the two I mentioned.

Not that I’m saying the zombie stories are any better. Well, they are–but only a little. I already singled out Bougainvilla as the best of the lot, but Scott Westerfield’s Inoculata was interesting too. Cassandra Clare’s Cold Hands deserve credit for being different, but I thought the story itself was extremely lacking. Libba Bray’s Prom Night stands out as the worst of the bunch.

I don’t believe in regrets–but I sure wish I trusted my first instinct when it came to this anthology. I put off buying (and reading this) for a year. I should’ve stuck with that decision. This book is definitely not for me.

As I always say though, I am but one voice and people should make up their own minds. I’ve thrown my two cents into the bin, let’s see what other people have said:
My Books. My Life.
The Spotted Mushroom
This Ain’t Livin’

Book: Zombinoy, Season 1

"Zombinoy: Season 1"

I love zombies. Which is why it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, that I would pick up the Zombinoy title. I didn’t even look at the synopsis, I just saw the title and the cover–and I bought the first issue.

I didn’t think there was anything to write about Zombinoy back in May though. At the time, while I saw the potential in the title, I didn’t really think it had enough to merit an actual discussion. It defined the premise, and it presented its take: the world goes to hell but we still have human drama to make everything colorful. It was a selling point, but not the whole story.

Fast forward to a few months later, and the people behind Zombinoy releases the two other issues that would complete their first “season.” And while I’m still not completely sold, I am intrigued as to where they’re planning to take the story.

What is Zombinoy? It’s your typical zombie apocalypse, complete with a healthy cast full of drama, set in the Philippine setting.

We have a number of main characters who have yet to show any distinguishable traits, and a villain that’s supposedly scarier than zombies–bureaucrats.

So far, the only thing redeemable about the title is a character that starts out annoying and becomes a bit of a comic relief by the time the third issue rolls around.

Our main couple, Paulo and Clara, are so far one-dimensional and their respective families have been defined more by the roles they play and not the characteristics they possess. Well, there was that one scene with Ryan, Paulo’s brother, which was supposed to be a deviation of his stereotype. Except his stereotype wasn’t well-defined to begin with.

And then there are the other characters, the ones who are supposed to make things interesting. They don’t. One group of survivors seem to have been able to commandeer a ship, save dozens of the impoverished, and set up a semblance of a political structure in the same span of time it takes Paulo and Clara to go up and down the North Luzon expressway. Then there’s the villains.

I don’t know if the writer/s of Zombinoy is planning a twist that would put all twists to shame, but from the picture being painted in the three issues released so far, the villains are pretty clear cut. Black and white. And boring. So very boring.

Of course, I didn’t really expect much from the title when I picked it up. The one thing important to me at the time was that it was about zombies, and that it was set in the Philippines. It delivered on both accounts. Now, if it’s not too much to ask from the writer/s, I want the next “season” to surprise.

Now, let’s see what other people have written about the title:
Jumper Cable
Daily Blurbs

Book: Zombie Apocalypse!

"Zombie Apocalypse!"

In the near future, a desperate and ever-more controlling UK government attempts to restore a sense of national pride with a New Festival of Britain. But construction work on the site of an old church in south London releases a centuries-old plague that turns its victims into flesh-hungry ghouls whose bite or scratch passes the contagion – a supernatural virus which has the power to revive the dead – on to others.

‘The Death’ soon sweeps across London and the whole country descends into chaos. When a drastic attempt to eradicate the outbreak at source fails, the plague spreads quickly to mainland Europe and the across the rest of the world.

Told through a series of interconnected eyewitness narratives – text messages, e-mails, blogs, letters, diaries and transcripts – this is an epic story of a world plunged into chaos as the dead battle the living for total domination.

I picked this book up because of the fact that it was about zombies. Zombies! I love zombies. I just wish I could say the same for this book.

With the rise of zombie popularity, especially in literature, I guess I shouldn’t really expect that all the books coming out would be good. There’s bound to be some clunkers.

Sadly, this is one of them.

Zombie Apocalypse! is a collection of stories from different authors that are supposed to have come from one outbreak. Except, and I find this really annoying, none of them seem to be giving you the same information.

Why have characters that pop up across stories? Why have one setting, one ground zero for the zombie outbreak? Why go to all these trouble if your writers are not going to stick to the same information anyway?

What went on in the editor’s head to think that the discrepancies in the information being divulged wouldn’t go unnoticed?

Sure, the formats in how the stories were told are interesting. And there are some really good stories in this anthology. But for me, almost everything gets drowned out by the fact that the authors seem to have not gotten the same instructions when they were writing their stories.

That, or they didn’t care what the other was doing so long as they got to tell the story they want to tell. Which is a reasoning that I can’t accept. Because, then, what would be the point of this anthology? It’s just a futile exercise after all.

But, as I always say, these are just my thoughts. Other people have said other things, like:
Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review
Shores of Night
Antony Simpson