Audiobook Review: Zom-B City by Darren Shan

28 05 2013


2013 Zombie Awareness Month

Zom-B City by Darren Shan (Zom-B, Bk. 3)

Read by Emma Galvin

Hachette Audio

Length: 3 Hrs 14 Min

Genre: Young Adult Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: In Zom-B City Shan does what he sets out to do. He gives us a dark tour of Zombie infested London while putting B in place for the next part of this tale. While not as impactful as the first two novels, it’s a logical next step in the series.

Grade: B

One of the things that has really attracted me to apocalyptic fiction is the idea of being alone in a city. I think cities are beautiful things, full of classic architecture, distinctive small businesses and a strange blending of history and modernity. Sadly, it’s also full of people. Nice people, mean people, cold people and warm people, they populate the streets and buildings like some parasitic pest seeking to get in your way, buy the last newspaper and, on rare encounters, force you to engage in sociable activities. I always remember that opening scene in 28 Days later where hero wakes up the hospital then walks out into London nearly bare assed to witness an empty city. As a kid I used to have all sorts of last man on Earth fantasies, where I could do anything, steal anything and drive crazily down the street in any car I could find. It was an introverted poor kid’s fantasy. Of course, I could worry about things like a lack of electricity, hygiene issues, clogged roads and wild dog packs, this was my fantasy and dammit, I was going to play Atari, watch PG13 and R movies and gorge myself on pizza and cheesesteaks that would magically appear to me. It was a great fantasy, and honestly, it didn’t always end at my childhood. Occasionally, I still think it would be cool to roam empty streets, sneak into restricted areas, walk the Art museum in my underwear, try on the Philly Phanatic costume, attempt field goals at Lincoln Financial Field, and, maybe in a slight variation of the term Last man, get cheered on wildly by the Eagle’s Cheerleading squad. Hell, it’s my fantasy.

In Zom-B City, B has now escaped the Underground government facility and gets her first glimpse of the changed world. Stuck in apocalyptic London with little information, she travels to her home, encountering other Zombies, strange survivors and empty streets along the way. While the story really doesn’t progress much in Zom-B City, Darren Shan gives us a dark tour through his changed world as he gets B acclimated to the new environment. Zom-B City seems like a bit of a set up novel, a chapter in an ongoing story instead of some complete narrative. Shan offers us a lot of cool things, giving us more information on how the Zombie outbreak has changed the world, and begins to offer us new factions who may or not come into play down the road. There are even some strange darkly humorous moments, including a painter chronicling the apocalyptic visions he encounters for some mysterious purpose, a religious alien conspiracy group who believes they have survived because of their faith in our celestial saviors, and a group of Zombie game hunters. Shan does a good job showing just how much the landscape can change in a brief amount of time. It’s frustrating that few of our questions are answered, and the one sequence that does seem on point is a bit of a rehash of past scenarios, but Shan does give us some clues and a few small reveals about B and her role in the apocalypse. While I enjoyed Zom-B City, the continual piece meal style of storytelling is making me want to wait until there are a few more editions completed before further exploring this world. I like the directions Shan is going, but not sure I have the patience for the episodic storytelling style, even with the relatively short time between entries. Shan does what he sets out to do. He gives us a dark tour of Zombie infested London while putting B in place for the next part of this tale. While not as impactful as the first two novels, it’s a logical next step in the series.

Emma Galvin continues her excellent work in the Zom-B series here with Zom-B City. She gives B the perfect edgy sarcastic British tone, full of urban grit and young adult insecurities. Being that much of this story involved B touring the city alone, this is a less dialogue intensive book, but she does a great job developing B’s distinctive inner voice. The few other characters that do appear are well done. I enjoyed her soft take on the young Apocalyptic painter, and her righteous craziness of the Zombie cultist hit all the right note. Again, Shan ends the tale with an almost dreamlike finale of horrors, and Galvin captures the hypnotic pacing perfectly.  There are still quite a few more chapters to go in this tale, and I’m quite interested in seeing what’s next.

Note: Thanks to Hachette Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.