“Are you not entertained?” A review of Darren Shan’s ZOM-B Gladiator

Warning, key spoiler to the ZOM-B series follows. Don’t read on unless you have at least read the first book in the series, ZOM-B.

B Smith is recuperating with Dr Oystein and the group of thinking, talking undead named the ‘Angels,’ that she can’t quite bring herself to call her friends, for fear of the violent loss she keeps experiencing.

Then, on a routine scavenging mission, it all goes wrong, and she is captured by “The Board,” perhaps the biggest monsters yet of the series by virtue of being human and consciously, deliberately evil.  They are the Bullingdon Club of the apocalypse, a collection of the rich and privileged who plan to become the worlds’ masters again, and who seek entertainment through Gladiatorial combat between the living and dead;  news of the thinking, talking, ‘Revitaliseds’ has reached them and they want one for their sport,  hence B’s capture.  Their numbers include a hideous child killer with undersized sailor outfit, and protruding belly,   an evil grotesque like Mr Dowling and Owl Man, but again made worse by virtue of being human and having chosen the sickest path imaginable.

The writer is good at linking these instalments into a coherent hall, and there’s fun to be had as characters and locations from previous books return here in a new perspective.  So we meet again here human hunters Barnes and Coley, and we find out why there was so much shooting from the HMS Belfry in ZOM-B City.

B’s journey and development makes a satisfying path here as she learns to live with the tension between friendship and fear of loss.  It’s the combination between a fast paced narrative and enjoyable, well rounded characters, monsters and humanity, which makes this such an addictive series.  I continue to recommend it.

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