"Zom-B Bride" Book Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
Published by Little, Brown and Company
Written by Darren Shan
2015, 175 pages, Fiction
Released on February 24th, 2015
I've never heard of Darren Shan's Zom-B novels. When asked if I would review the tenth novel in the chronology, I thought it would be an interesting idea to delve into the pages not knowing a damn thing about the series. Normally, I must start from the beginning of any kind of episodic books, film or television, especially with a narrative arc, but I'm trying to break new ground. When the parcel envelope arrived and I opened to the title Zom-B Bride, I was really bamboozled. What the hell was I about to embark on?
What I was dropped into was a world of dread and decay, smack dab in the middle of a story with a deepened history. Continuing from the ninth installment, Zom-B Family, Bride chronicles B (formerly Becky Smith), a sarcastic, wise-ass zombie and her budding relationship with the murderous clown, Mr. Dowling. At the end of Family, the two struck a deal to save the Battersea Power Station and the babies (yes, sharp-fanged mutant babies!) would lift B on their shoulders down to Mr. Dowling's underground lair, where he ultimately claims his long-desired love for her. One thing about B is, I couldn't help notice, she has a Katniss Everdeen quality to her, and I think it is because of the first person narrative. Having this story being told through B adds inner dwelling you don't get through third person.
Darren Shan presents a unique story with prose that is simple and visual – an excellent combination. It has YA written all over it, but that doesn't mean adults won't take pleasure too. People love Harry Potter (which I've never read or watched, though not opposed to). There is an immense amount of brutal imagery, juxtaposed with there being no curse words. That's pretty radical and amusing to see this horror written with such a blend of gore, wit and delight. The descriptions of Mr. Dowling's underground lair, which is where this whole book takes place in, is chock full of blood, severed limbs and guts. For example, characters hanging out in a vat of blood and stapling severed limbs to clothing for fashion purposes are fantastically written.
Among B's first person dialogue, there are characters brought up who seem to be crucial in past novels, such as B's parents and Vinyl, and what exactly happened for the world to become the way it is. This is not a just a zombie apocalypse, but there are other supernatural things going about. A whacked-out, mute, mind-reading, serial-killing clown is the primary antagonist here, though there are others such as Owl Man and Dan-Dan. I wish I knew more about these characters, but Shan gives enough insight to the past, keeping us limited to who they are (barely) and their significance to B, while not deterring from the main story.
I would recommend the Zom-B series to anyone looking to read a horror series with not just humor and gore, but also substance. The relationship between many of characters and the idea of "love" is a sub-text throughout, as it seems "family" is of the previous novel. The relationships between B and Mr. Dowling; B and the babies; B and Owl Man; Mr. Dowling and his loyal assistant Kinslow; and through monologue, B and her parents, are all representations of "love" in different manifestations. Zom-B Bride is a fast read, and I assume the other novels are of the same breed. The story kept my interest throughout, and I do want to know more about the Zom-B chronicles. I may not backtrack and read past books in the series due to life's time constraints, but books 11 and 12 are definitely on my radar for reviews.