What if everything you knew was a lie?
B Smith is on the run...
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book Links: Goodreads
We're here, folks! Shan's unique take on the zombie mythology has reached its penultimate entry!
And everything's building towards what's looking to be a colossal climax.
In standard Shan fashion, Zom-B Fugitive is a compelling, fast-paced ride of undead proportions. There's action, twists, self-reflection, and a terrific lesson that will have you questioning the people in your life.
If you've ever wondered how B Smith feels with a hole in her chest and her heart literally gone, Zom-B Fugitive is about to show you.
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
Tortured, beaten, and married off to a crazy clown who revels in the blood of innocents, B Smith knows the meaning of torment, and then some.
After a strange and instinctual traipse through Mr Dowling's mind, B accomplishes the impossible.
She escapes, with a weapon that could change the world.
But B soon finds out she has nowhere to turn.
No allies, nowhere to go.
The only things left, are the ones who chase.
And B, who runs...
Plot - 4/5 Stars
Picking up directly after Zom-B Bride, Zom-B Fugitive is surprisingly more of a slow burner than its predecessors. There's a ton of self-reflection, predominantly from our main character B. Personally, I feel like this is a pro and a con: A pro, because the depths we dig into B's psyche do wonders for her already fantastic development; and a con because there's a large chunk of the book centred on just running.
Fugitive is the build-up to the finale, and that can work against it, with events setting big things up, rather than executing them.
B's fugitive status though isn't all bad. When she's running from Mr Dowling - the supposed main evil - nothing's amiss. But when the story decides to mess with your perceptions, and our protagonist flees from those she had been running to, the playing field crumbles, and what we've taken for granted is obliterated.
There are some twists that are complete gold! Oystein, for example. Despite guessing the twist thanks to some earlier pointers in the series, it's still a jaw-dropping spin that you can't quite believe. It reinforces the tearing of the universe's fabric. Oystein, the supposedly good-hearted hero, is really the instrumental instrument that destroyed civilisation!
It also highlights a recurring theme that slots comfortably in beside Shan's exploration of racism throughout the series: Appearances. Zom-B Fugitive focuses on this aspect heavily, and I'm actually not long finished writing something similar in my last review of Karin Slaughter's Pretty Girls.
Appearances can deceive; personas can be adopted; and actions can be forced, all to create a false perception. There's no real way of knowing someone until you see their true core, a feat only accomplished when everything about them is stripped away. While Oystein is the more obvious example to pull from, I think B's progression - more so in this instalment than any - is the stronger highlighter. She's committed horrible acts, died, returned and been forced to fight for sport; she's been tortured and destroyed.
Yet, still, she fights for an outcome that would see her dead for good, just to give the living their lives back.
I guess, simply, Fugitive teaches you that good isn't always good, and bad isn't always bad.
The concluding note to this entry shocks me to my core! I completely forgot about Owl Man's mysterious manipulative power over B! Shan does a wonderful job of quickly, but smoothly, injecting such chemistry into B and Barnes that, the end...
Pace - 5/5 Stars
The Zom-B series' flow has never really changed. It's fast and smooth. The books are easily read in a couple of hours, but they remain with you for far longer than that.
Characters - 5/5 Stars
I delved quite a bit into B up above, but there's never enough opportunities to gush. She continues to be a compelling protagonist. Despite her upbringing and what the world's thrown at her, she's grown to be such a selfless, kickass character. Plus, she still has her witty wisecracks.
There's no Mr Dowling in this entry - he's probably still recovering from B kicking his backside - but the creep factor is held by the demonic babies. Holy Moly, while only briefly present, is a terrifying, cute, and capable being. They're my favourite species of this series, who inspire a gallimaufry of emotions.
There's the reveal of Oystein's role in the apocalypse; there's the return of the Owl Man; the melancholy reunion of old friends. Shan's ability to create an engaging cast is envious, and Fugitive brings the main players back into the game.
The finale is coming...
Writing - 5/5 Stars
Everything is rapid, spurned on by Shan's use of the first-person narrative and the present tense.
We're immersed, involved, and interested, with the story's immediacy waiting to bash you around the head at every turn.
Overall - 4.5/5 Stars
With only one more book left to go, intriguingly named Zom-B Goddess, the need for answers is more powerful than it's ever been.
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