This review and others are posted at Read, Rinse, Repeat.
This is one zombie book that doesn't hold back. When the apocalypse hits, it hits hard, and the majority of the brain-gorging happens to kids trapped in a high school. They die in a variety of gruesome ways, occasionally with limbs their ripped off. B attempts to lead a group of kids to freedom, and the group is slowly getting picked off.
But before we get to the good stuff in this short (180 page) book, we're first introduced to B and dear old Mom and Dad. There are news reports of zombies nearby, but B's parents don't believe it. They are convinced it's a government conspiracy designed to frighten citizens and ultimately allow more immigrants into the country. (Just go with it.) This is the first hint that B's father is an awful – repeat, AWFUL – racist. He's never met a non-white person he couldn't disparage in some sickening way. He also doesn't seem particularly fond of white women and children, as evidenced by his physical and mental abuse of his wife and child. Throughout the book, I was looking for some deeper meaning to the racism. Would it somehow be used make a connection between humans and zombies? “Hey, deep down, they're just like us, y'all!” But if there was a message here, I never found it. I think B's father is just a vile human being, seemingly destined for zombie bait.
At school, the students are just as skeptical of the coming zombie apocalypse as B's parents. The students wonder whether the zombies are a result of a government experiment gone wrong, perhaps involving chemical weapons. Or maybe they're aliens. A teacher encourages the skepticism: “Trust no one. Always question what you're told.” But soon, the school is overrun, and there is no denying that zombies are real.
The action is exhilarating, and it leads up to a whopper of an ending. Where can this story possibly go from here? I took a peek at the synopsis for the sequel, and I'm intrigued. How exactly is Darren Shan going to paint himself out of this corner? Books two and three are already out, so I won't have long to wait.