Review: ZOM-B Gladiator / Author: Darren Shan / Publisher: Simon & Schuster / Release Date: Out Now
Pretty much everything you need to know about Zom-B Gladiator is in the name, which conjures up images of fighting your own kind while depraved individuals watch and bay for blood. B faces this situation in this, the midpoint of the ZOM-B series. It’s just a shame that it takes half the book to get there.
Fortunately, one thing that makes this easier to deal with is that B is starting to become likeable and it’s about bloody time. Especially when one considers that likeable characters are in short supply in this volume; it’s difficult to root for The Board but only because they feel like caricatures for the reader to get angry at. Scads of money? Check. Child murderer? Check.
Of course, telegraphed plot twists (which always make it hard to invest anything in the ongoing story) mean that it comes as no surprise to the reader that at least one of them escapes. We’re sure that they will menace B in some capacity in a future book.
The bottom line is that if you’re outside of the book’s target audience, you are a lot more likely to notice the cracks in the storytelling. We’re sure that 9-12s will love the superficial aspects such as the zombie killings and the mayhem, but anyone older than that won’t really take a lot away from the book. It’s telling that when each new book arrives in the Starburst mailbox, we’ve forgotten everything that came before even though there’s only about three months between books. Shouldn’t a book, no matter what its target audience is, leave some kind of impact?