Author: Darren Shan
Series: Zom-B, #1
Length: 3 hours
Narrator: Emma Galvin
Original Publication Date: 2012
Genre(s): Horror, Young adult
When a zombie outbreak occurs in Ireland and is plastered all over the news, B doesn’t believe it for a second, and neither does her abusive, racist father. B continues living her life as if the zombie thing never happened, just like she pretends the abusive outbursts from her father don’t, either. Just like she pretends her dad isn’t that racist, and that she isn’t racist, either. But when the zombies show up at school and her friends start turning one by one, B learns more about herself than she ever wanted to know, and it just might kill her.
I’d like to start off by saying this is the first audiobook I’ve ever listened to. I decided to give it a try at work, see if I could get into it, and though it was a little weird and hard to get used to at first, I successfully finished my first one! Unfortunately, it’s not a book I enjoyed too much.
In deciding to start listening to audiobooks, I went waaaaaaaaay back to the beginning of my TBR on Goodreads, back to the first books I ever added. ZOM-B was added way back in 2013; I was only 17 years old. After listening to ZOM-B, I can decidedly say I would maybe have enjoyed this back when I was 17, probably more so when I was 14, but I definitely did not find any interest in it at 22.
The novel starts out pretty promising—heart-pounding zombie action, a young boy pleading for his life to some weird, creepy-looking man, and tons of gory zombie action. That’s just the prologue, though—the “Before.” Afterwards, in the “Now” or “After” or whatever it’s called, it’s mostly just a lot of boring, racist high school bullshit. Honestly, I forgot I was listening to a book about zombies. There’s some weird stuff throughout, but the zombies don’t invade until almost the end of the story.
So yeah, I was kind of expecting to read about zombies in a zombie book, but that’s not the worst part about this book. The worst part is the main character, B. I absolutely cannot stand her and hated listening to this story from her perspective. The author tries to make her sympathetic by giving her an abusive, racist father and a mother who never stands up to the abuse, but it doesn’t work for me at all. B is a racist, too, and she can justify it all she wants by saying she goes along with it so her dad doesn’t beat her at home, but I think that’s bullshit. B is a racist and a bully. Her dad isn’t at school forcing her to call out her black classmate and make fun of him. Her dad isn’t forcing her to make gorilla noises at a black girl. She has a black friend nicknamed Vinyl and doesn’t pick on him, actually is friends with him in secret, but is probably just his friend to justify that she “isn’t a racist.” Throughout the book, she is constantly referring to other people as “Muslims” and “black boy/girl” rather than their respective names. She’s mean and uses her racist father as a justification for it, but I’m not buying it. She wants her father’s appraisal, sure, I get it, but bullying people of color and generally being an asshole is not the only way to receive praise, I am sure of it. Especially because she doesn’t even tell her father what she does to these kids. So how is it for her father’s benefit, then? She does horrible things to people of color in this book, right up until the very last chapter. It’s funny—she visits a Holocaust museum, and one of her teachers even compares the Holocaust to how B’s father and the other racist radicals in the UK treat people of color. And B cannot believe her ears. She doesn’t believe it. Refuses to make the connection. She makes excuses. Even though she’s witnessed the utter brutality of her father. Their slogan is even “Make Britain white again.” It’s disgusting (and reminiscent of 2018 America, yes?). B deserves what happens to her in the end of the book, even though I’m sure she is ok in the next installment… B is the worst, and a big reason why I didn’t like the book and won’t be reading any more of the series.
As for the other characters, they are barely a blip on the radar. B gives everyone nicknames, so all the other characters are weirdly named, like La Lips, Pox, Vinyl, Copper, etc. They are all very hard to remember and distinguish apart from one another. I truly can’t tell you much about them, except Copper is a ginger and Vinyl is black. Other than that, they didn’t have much character development and barely played a role in the story, other than being food for the zombies.
Another thing I didn’t like about ZOM-B: the zombies themselves. From what I could discern, they are controlled by strange “mutants” at the sound of a whistle. I didn’t really understand it. And I hate those kinds of zombie stories, where the zombies aren’t really zombies… I don’t know. It just didn’t interest me.
As for the narrator, she was British, so that helped envision B, but she read too slowly and didn’t really captivate me. Or maybe I just didn’t like her because I hated B so much. Who knows.
Overall, I really didn’t like the book all that much. I’m pretty sure I would have disliked it just as much if I’d read the physical copy, too. I certainly won’t be continuing the series. 11 more books about B???????? No. Thank. You. I liked the gory zombie scenes and I enjoyed the suspense (as I do with all zombie novels). I didn’t like the zombies, I didn’t like the writing, and I especially didn’t like the main character. I am glad to have gotten it off my TBR, though. And I’m glad it introduced me to the world of audiobooks.