Die deutsche Rezension findet ihr hier
B Smith is a teenager like anybody else, at least like any other teenager in that area: looking for trouble, disillusioned and slightly aimless. It does not really help that B’s father is a racist, on the contrary: B is repeatedly confronted with the question what is right and what is wrong. A child surely must love the own father, he has to be right with everything? However, doubts keep coming up while the once feigned behaviour to please the father becomes normality. Still, there is not much time left to resolve the conflict, even though B is not aware of that yet. There are reports about zombie attacks in Ireland, but just as everybody else B thinks it is a hoax or a PR campaign. Nobody realizes in how much danger they are …
Just a little warning to begin with: you will not like B. Maybe you will suddenly feel like kicking or screaming at somebody, or like hitting someone in the face. And as soon as B’s father enters the stage it will get worse.
“Zom-B” is not primarily about zombies, even though that is what the title suggests, but about racism. B’s father is the perfect example. He stirs up hatred against foreigners and those he believes to be such; he is in favour of violence and disapproves of good deeds when someone of another nationality benefits from it. At home he is the ruler, his word is law and if you do not obey him, you will be given a taste of the whip. That is where the main character was raised; by now B is good in being quiet and changing the topic when it is necessary – not so the mother. In the end, both are too often the target of the father’s violence and as crazy as it sounds, B still tries to be sitting pretty. It is for the father, you see?
It is frustrating, and in a bitter way realistic. Even though I often screamed at B to be reasonable, it is good that the book was written in the way it was written. “Zom-B” shows where it can lead us if we always prefer to go the easier and often cowardly way only because we do not dare to face the challenges. We become what we secretly despise until we cannot be sure any longer who we actually are. It takes a lot after that to get us back on the right track (or rather: the not-right one), but it is possible.
“Zom-B” deals with the missing logic of racism and the ridiculous excuses we come up with to calm ourselves. A friend of ours is a person of colour, so we cannot possibly be racist. That is by no means true, but it is something many say in one moment and the next they lash out again against “the others”.
Despite its shortness, the book holds a mirror in front of us to show how all of us think in stereotypes – because human perception simply works like that – and how we come to conclusions that are not necessarily based on any facts. Well done, Mr. Shan, you completely fooled me! It makes me all the more happy that I was constantly tearing my hair and sometimes even had to laugh.
However, there still have to be some zombies. At the very end they get introduced, same as some mysterious clues that point towards those pulling the strings in the background. There is not much happening concerning this mystery, so in the end, “Zom-B” is an introduction. There was still much going on, only it concerned B’s personality.
Shan is back, maybe better than ever? That will have to show; so far, we are only at the very beginning of this journey and got to know B. The following books will deal with the zombies, but this one only introduced them. The main topic of “Zom-B” is racism and it is approached by the author in an intriguing and effective way; I would like to claim it might help those who are in B’s situation – though they will probably never read it. It is a pity.
To everybody else I can only strongly recommend to read this book, which you will hopefully love. It deserves it.