What has happened to the world since the dead took over? Where have the humans gone to hide? Who do the living most have to fear? B Smith is heading for unknown territory...Leading a group of humans through London and out into zombie-infested suburbs sounds like suicide - but not for the undead! Even so, the horrors of the journey will be beyond anything B has yet seen ...
As this series progresses, it is getting harder and harder to write reviews of Darren Shan's Zom-B books without creating spoilers for previous episodes. So please be warned - if you have not yet read the previous books in the series then I urge you to stop reading this review and go and do something more interesting... such as reading the previous books in this fantastic series!
I never got around to writing a review of the sixth book in the series, Zom-B Gladiator, as things were pretty hectic at work at the time. However, I'll take this opportunity here to say that I loved it as much as I loved its predecessors. I can't remember where I read this, but at the time I was surprised to read one reviewer criticise Zom-B Gladiator for being very short on plot. For me, that is the magic of this series - in one episode we might see a significant plot development, but then in the next book we are treated to wall-to-wall action, or another atrocity so horrific that it puts into the shade all that came before it. For me, Zom-B Gladiator had both of these: B fighting for survival on board HMS Belfast, and the truly evil Dan-Dan demonstrating that however horrific the zombies are, humans can still out-evil them.
As it is my birthday week I treated myself to a copy of Zom-B Mission, and it arrived today. Every Monday I have a meeting at school that lasts from 3 pm until 6pm, and this week I was watching the minutes tick over slowly as I was dying to get home to read Darren Shan's latest instalment. As with all of the previous books it is a relatively quick read and I finished it in a single sitting, and it is almost my favourite of the series so far. Only almost though, and I will come to the reason for this in a bit. In Zom-B Mission, B and her team of Angels are tasked with taking Emma and Declan, the mother and child they took in to their care in Gladiator, to a sanctuary out in the countryside. On their way, they are also to stop off in Hammersmith to pick up another group of human survivors. B and the team are excited that they have finally been given a mission, but calamity strikes before they depart which dampens their excitement considerably (you'll have to read the book to find out what).
Escorting the zombie version of fast food through infested territory is not without its risks, and the journey is not without incident (hell, this is a Darren Shan book so of course it isn't!). However, I don't think it is spoiling things to say that the group eventually reaches the 'safe' compound of New Kirkham (is that an almost nod to another master of the genre?). This journey and their eventual destination gives us a much greater insight into what is going on outside of London, as until now the books have very much focused on the revitalised, and the occasional human or monster that has come their way, and Shan smoothly reveals a little more of the post-apocalyptic world he has created, and some of the many hazards that face the small groups of survivors, many of which I would never have even considered. In addition to this, B's past also starts to catch up with her and we see how far she has developed as a character, and how even in her semi-zombified state she is more human than many of the humans out there.
So why is it only almost my favourite so far? Long time readers will know that I am not averse to cliffhanger endings. I loved the way Shan finished the first book in this series - it really was one of those jaw hitting the ground moments. However, in this one I felt that the cliffhanger was just a little too extreme, and almost left me feeling like the book hadn't been finished properly, and that i had been cheated. I can't tell you how this episode ends (obviously), but all I will say is that yet again Shan reveals an evil in his horrific world that is sadly all too human in nature. Oh yes... and the Owl Man is back! Hurrah! Which kind of makes up for the cliffhanger in my mind :-)