Darren Shan's zombie horror series stars a butt-kicking, bull-headed girl in the vein of recent post-apocalyptic novel heroines like Katniss of The Hunger Games and Tris of Divergent --- except for one thing: to humanity, she is the enemy. At the end of the first installment (ZOM-B UNDERGROUND is the second), B had her heart ripped out during a zombie attack at her high school, and now she is a zombie herself. Except, unlike most zombies --- both in this book and in pretty much any other zombie-centric book, movie or television series apart from the recent Warm Bodies --- B has retained her intelligence and personality. Her mind is the same as it was when she was alive, but her body is a little bit different. She cannot blink (the better to see humans), has ever-growing, fang-like teeth (the better to eat humans), and she has claws on the ends of her fingers (the better to... scoop out human brains?!?). She also has a gaping hole where her heart should be.
"Though ZOM-B UNDERGROUND is suspenseful, comes with really interesting illustrations and has a great cliffhanger, it was B's internal struggle that made this book stand out and left me wanting more."
Oddly, though she is now literally heartless, B has decided to use her second chance at "life" to become a better person. Unfortunately her attempts to do so are constantly thwarted. She and the few other zombies like her are kept locked up in a military compound, where they are studied by scientists and the military and are forced to go out and kill regular old slobbering zombies once a week. These zom-heads, as B and her like are called, are treated with contempt by their human captors, regardless of the fact that they still have their human personalities. However, these zom-heads are a hot-headed bunch and fight far more than they get along. This makes for interesting and exciting reading, as B struggles to assert herself to her captors and her "friends" without returning to her former ways.
It is the difference between B now and B before that really makes the book memorable. B's father was a racist who raised her to be one as well, and her struggle against her ingrained prejudices is compelling, especially because she is now the one who has prejudice directed at her. Though ZOM-B UNDERGROUND is suspenseful, comes with really interesting illustrations and has a great cliffhanger, it was B's internal struggle that made this book stand out and left me wanting more.
Reviewed by Erin Allen on February 7, 2013