Thursday, November 12, 2009
REVIEW: The Enemy by Charlie Higson
Wow. I finished this book last night and I'm left almost speechless by it. It isn't what I was expecting and in a really good way. Charlie Higson, author of the Young Bond series (which I've loved up to a point), has gone in a different direction with The Enemy. He's taken on zombies. Zombies are all the rage at the moment, but I can't say that I've had much experience with them, either in books or movies. So this is a new one for me. Here's the description on Amazon:
They'll chase you. They'll rip you open. They'll feed on you...When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician - every adult - fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they're fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there - alive?
I'm a little queasy when it comes to horror. I generally avoid it. And my assumption that because this book is aimed at a young adult audience that it would be watered-down, less horrific was entirely false. Higson does not hold back on the scary. It's fast-paced and very thrilling. But it's also very gory. Kids die. They get eaten, dragged away or attacked by dogs. Bad things happen and nobody is safe.
And in this very horrific new world these kids are living in, there's also some humanity left. The book focuses around a group of kids who have made their home in a Waitrose in North London. They try to protect the little ones, they try to maintain this sense of what's right and what's wrong. They struggle with the responsibilities of leadership, and their guilt when things go wrong. There's some great dialogue here and you really get a sense of who these characters are and where they are coming from. When a new kid comes along telling these kids about a safe place, they must figure out who to trust and how to work together. Meanwhile, the grown-ups are organising themselves, getting smarter and stronger...
It's the first in an exciting new series, and I cannot wait for the rest.