The Enemy by Charlie Higson

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The Enemy by Charlie Higson

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Action-packed future catastrophe novel with chases and Lord of the Flies rivalries. Shuffling zombie adults lend shlock to a high adrenalin thriller. It's not that deep, but it's page-turning stuff - just as well given it's 400 pages.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: September 2009
Publisher: Puffin
ISBN: 0141384646

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HA! 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead meet Lord of the Flies in Charlie Higson's latest series. A mysterious disease has decimated the population, attacking everyone over fourteen. Most of the adults are dead but the ones that remain are shuffling zombies with just one thought in their addled brains - killing and feasting on children. The narrative focuses on London, where pockets of children are holed up in old supermarkets and tourist attractions. Rumour has it that there's a group in Buckingham Palace who are not only safe, but who are beginning to envisage ways of building a new life. Both the Waitrose and the Morrisons crew know that they can't last forever by scavenging, and so they decide to make the dangerous journey across London to the Palace.

But can they avoid the grown-ups?

I loved a great deal about The Enemy. It's pacy and colloquial and easy to read. It has oodles of George A Romero horror schlock about it - there's blood and pus and boils and severed body parts just about wherever you look. It's so vivid that I really don't think it would need five minutes-worth of adapting to bring it to a big screen. And this stuff is tremendously popular amongst tweens and teens at the moment. I can't count the number times my sons have watched 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead and last year's BBC remake of Survivors was a must. Both of them are now eyeing my review copy of The Enemy so they can make the first grab for it when the last word of this review gets typed.

And they'll both enjoy it. Higson knows how to hold his readers' attention. He does explore how society might look after a catastrophe that has left almost everyone dead but he doesn't make it too deep. He's not afraid to create interest in a character, then kill them off to everyone's great astonishment. He knows how kids relate to one another and he portrays both kindness and meanness in equal measure. He even hints that it's the clever and quiet kids who will probably succeed, not the bullies or the have-a-go heroes.

It has unashamed popular appeal, The Enemy, and deep-thinking children might prefer something a little more demanding for their four hundred pages, but all schlock-horror fans will absolutely love it.

My thanks to the good people at Puffin for sending the book.

The adults don't get ill, they simply disappear in Gone by Michael Grant, which also has undertones of Lord of the Flies. An eco-catastrophe has drowned most of the population in X-isle by Steve Augarde. And children are left alone after another environmental disaster in The Rule of Claw by John Brindley. There's a lot of it about! Deep-thinking children will love the world created by Patrick Ness in The Knife of Never Letting Go.

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Buy The Enemy by Charlie Higson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Enemy by Charlie Higson at


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