Man vs Bookshelf

Man vs Bookshelf: Zom-B

This entry is part 102 of 104 in the series Man vs Bookshelf

Right, this is it — the very last review.

Madness.

It’s also, if my maths is right (it probably isn’t), my 100th blog in this series.

That’s pretty impressive.

Ninety-eight of those blogs were of a low to poor quality, but still, pretty impressive.

Once this review is done, there will be two blogs to go. A stats round up and an outro.

Then it’ll be over, no doubt sending my three readers into a deep, dark depression.

But I can’t wait.

The current plan is for this blog to be released on the 8th of June. Two and a half weeks away at the time of writing. The stats blog will then come out on the 12th and the finale on the 15th.

One week after that, the 22nd, is the due date of my first child (though no doubt she’ll be late – children are selfish), meaning I will have finished this challenge in perfect timing for all my spare time to disappear into a black hole of nappies and baby crying and adult crying and money worries.

I can’t wait.

But for now, let’s talk about zombies.


Darren Shan

Oh, actually. Before we begin, I’ve already reviewed 15 Darren Shan books for this blog which I covered over four review blogs.

Check those out; then we’ll move on.

  1. Cirque Du Freak
  2. The Thin Executioner
  3. The City Trilogy
  4. The Demonata

Zom-B (books 1-8 out of 12)

I think there’s something pretty terrifying about being a successful author, but knowing you did your best work at the beginning of your career.

Luckily, I’m never going to be a successful author, so this won’t affect me.

Thank God.

Darren Shan on the other hand (though he might disagree with me here) has suffered from diminishing returns in terms of his big series output for young adults.

His first, The Saga of Darren Shan (Cirque Du Freak if you’re American), is a solid eight of ten series. At its highest its a nine. At its lowest a seven.

A top quality young adult series.

Then came Demonata. Another great series, but this time the average is about a 7/10, topping out at an 8, bottoming at a 6.

Finally, we have the Zom-B series.

Now, in all fairness, there are 12 books in this series, the last four of which I haven’t read.

The great strength of a Shan series is the genius way he weaves together many small plot lines across a series, bringing them together at the end and it may be when these short strands pay off at the end of Zom-B the rating shoots up.

But, at the moment, I’ve given most of the books a 3/5 on Goodreads.


Twist

As always Shan has created a twist on a classic horror monster with his series.

With Saga, it was vampires, Demonata Werewolves and with Zom-B it’s dragons.

Just kidding, it’s Zombies, of course.

The main character, B, loses her life at the end of the first book (that’s actually a pretty big double spoiler, though you won’t know why unless you’ve read it) and from book two she is reanimated as a Zombie with a twist.

See, a group of Zombies, mostly teenagers, were given a particular vaccination that allows them to retain their mental faculties post zombification.

In the post-apocalyptic world, they are drawn together by a Zombie doctor who wants them to fight a battle of Good vs Evil in the grandest sense.

He believes he has been chosen by God to lead the good, while Mr Dowling, an evil clown, has been selected by Satan to lead the evil.

So an exciting twist and premise.


Preachy

This intriguing premise is used to tell a good story, which I won’t spoil more than I already have.

The characters are well drawn, and they help carry the story along, even when not a lot is happening (which is often the case).

Although I’ve said these are 3/6 books, the fact that each ends with a cliffhanger is drawing me on, and I am interested enough to have bought the final four books in the series, and to want to finish it before long.

However, the books are also quite preachy.

I mentioned back when I read The Thin Executioner by Shan that a lot of writers try to shove messages down your throat, and I don’t like it. I went on to say how Shan used the Executioner to portray his messages in a much more subtle way that I thought worked well.

In the Zom-B series, the message about racism is pretty on the nose.

I mean it’s really on the nose.

In the first book, B throws a black teen to the Zombies to please her racist father, and by book seven, the actual KKK is involved.

I think they are going to turn out to be integral to the plot, but at the moment it doesn’t seem like this is the case, which makes them look unnecessary vehicles for Shan’s “racism is bad” message.

Not that I’m saying such a message is unimportant. Of course its incredibly important that people, especially children, are taught not to be such racist dickheads.

But still, it has to fit with the plot, and I’m not yet sure it does in this story.


Summary

Before Robert Muchamore’s Cherub came along, Shan was pretty much my favourite YA author.

Even now I can read The Saga of Darren Shan again and again but, while this series is good, it doesn’t rank up with that great Saga.

So, if you’ve never read Shan and are interested, start with the Saga, otherwise, sure, give this a go.


Next Time

No more reviews!

Sob.

But there is still the stats to go.

See you for that.

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International worst selling author Mark Ayre has been writing since before he could pick up a pen (somehow). Recently he is taking the internet by storm with his Man vs Bookshelf Challenge where he aims to read the 210 books on his bookshelf in 210 weeks, reviewing them on his blog and Goodreads along the way. He is also publishing books on Amazon, his most recent being the family suspense novel, Poor Choices, which you can find here.

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