A review of Darren Shan’s “ZOM-B Family”

Don’t read any further if you are new to Shan’s ZOM-B saga, as this review will be chock full of spoilers….

Beginning with the brutal betrayal at the close of ZOM-B clans, the ninth book in Darren Shan’s ZOM-B series sees B Smith taken prisoner by the vile Dan- Dan into a fortress at Battersea Power-Station.  There she finds an unholy alliance between surviving members of the Board, the Klan, the army, Owl-Man, and her Father.  Here at this base B must endure her most harrowing ordeal yet, one that will call on every ounce of her undead strength and living spirit.

B faces the emotional torture of facing up to her father and what he is, by showing him what has she become, a repudiation of all he stands for.  B also discovers the fate of her mother, in one of the books many unsettling and shocking scenes.

B refuses to join this “axis of evil,” to borrow a phrase, and is so given into the clutches of Dan-Dan. There then follows an extended scene of torture which is pretty audacious for a young adult title.  I kept expecting an imminent rescue or reprieve, but B finds no short-cuts from this.  It’s not a literal crucifixion but follows the slow torture of this execution, without the reprieve of death.  I would caution more sensitive readers (although those most easily offended won’t have made it this far in the series)!  However, the scene is not salacious, or cheap, in any way.  The focus is on B’s mental, emotional and spiritual endurance, and her repudiation of Dan-Dan’s evil.

Following this, there are more scenes of gladiatorial combat, more wrenching loss, and at the denouement, a siege which for B means out of the frying pan, into the fire…

This is probably the toughest and most unrelenting book of the series yet, but a gripping little page turner that once again shows how Shan is adept at switching from fast paced gore and action to pretty weighty moral content.  It’s the latter that is so refreshing.  Shan’s treatment of racism in particular, and the theme of the battle of the individual’s moral choices, is utterly refreshing, and timely, in today’s particularly xenophobic, other-hating political landscape.

Roll on” ZOM-B Bride.”

 

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