Author: Darren Shan

Publication: 2012, Little, Brown and Company

Pages: 192

Overall Rating:

Rating for Action:

Quantity of Action:

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: When news of a Zombie outbreak in Ireland hits the TV, B’s dad figures the whole thing is a joke – and even if it isn’t, what difference will a few dead Irish make.  B doesn’t fully agree with her dad’s racist ideas, but figures it’s generally better to go along than take a beating for speaking her mind.  And she’s gone along for so many years the ideas have begun burrowing under her skin until she’s no longer sure what she believes.  But then zombies attack her school, and while fighting for her life amid the carnage, B is forced to come face-to-face with what she truly believes.

Age of Main Character: 16

What I Liked the Most: Shan takes this book beyond the typical zombie mayhem.  In fact, other than a brief appearance in the prologue, the zombies don’t really show up in force until three quarters of the way through the book.  The rest focuses on burrowing us inside B’s head, and helping us understand the tumultuous relationship between her and her father, an avowed racist working hard to keep immigrants out of Britain.  It also lays the groundwork for the politics behind this particular zombie apocalypse – which looks to be anything but an accident of nature.

The end of the book is dark, frightening, and powerful and took me completely by surprise.

What I Liked the Least: While I was able to get my head past B’s racist outbursts – knowing how integral they were to her desperate attempts to win her dad’s love and acceptance – I still found her to be a distasteful character.  Racism aside, she was an ass and a big-time bully, the kind of kid I would have absolutely despised in high school.  So even though I could empathize with the struggle she was going through – to win her father’s acceptance and avoid his fists – I still couldn’t bring myself to like the girl, and that made this a hard book to read.

This is a minor point, but it the story is told from the first person POV and it wasn’t until almost the very end that I finally realized B was a girl.  Up until that point, everything about her friends, her attitude, and her actions led me to think guy.  Maybe that was just Shan’s cool way of challenging our ingrained attitudes toward gender – and, if so, then kudos to him – but I can’t remember another book where the character’s gender came as such a surprise.

How Good was the Action? The first three quarters was pretty light on the action – a brief confrontation or two between B and her dad and a cool chase where B rescues a kidnapped baby.  Once the zombie’s show up, however, the book gets fast and furious, with blood galore.  Even then I wouldn’t say the action was exactly the best I’ve ever seen, but it definitely got the job done.  And it set the stage for the buckets of gore that Shan clearly delights in sloshing across the page.

How Engaging was the Story? While I might not have liked B very much as a person, I couldn’t help getting sucked into the struggle with her father, a man whom she alternately loves and hates, and her own desperate attempts to deny her growing racist attitude.

Overall Assessment:  An interesting take on the zombie genre, where the gore flows hand-in-hand with the dark political message.

Profanity: Yes and a fair bit of it.

Sex: Not a lot of actual sex, but plenty of talking about sex and a few good kisses along the way.

Violence: Absolutely, and it’s full to the brim with blood and gore.

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