After being really impressed by the first two books in this series, I was itching to read this one - I ploughed through it and read it all really quickly.
I think this is easily the best book in the series so far, and it strikes me as an outstanding piece of horror writing for young people - but, like Harry Potter, I can see it's going to appeal to people way beyond the teen demographic. I enjoyed it at 37, and a five-star review on Amazon was written by a 55-year-old.
It gets increasingly gory as the army of caniballistic zombies begin to organise themselves and increase the terror on the streets. Meanwhile, more groups of surviving kids emerge, and other groups we've already met begin to interact. The first two books feature an almost entirely different cast of characters, the second book beginning a year before the first, with the events at the very end of the second book linking things together. This third book for most of its length focusses on people from the second book, with those from the first introduced later on - it draws together the separate plots of the first and second books really well, and sets up a pretty impressive cliffhanger ready for the next book. Shame I'll probably have to wait about a year for it!
The way that each book describes some of the same events from different points of view is very clever, and a lot of things become clearer as you read on, such as how each character gets to be where they are. In the process of the book, lots of characters, DogNut in particular, have to deal with mistakes - and DogNut's mistake leads to some potentially gruesome consequences - but that's the cliffhanger, and we'll have to see what happens next. I suspect quite a lot of blood might be involved. :)
There's more to be seen of a tyrannical leader, David, and his attempts to manipulate and cajole others into doing his bidding. He's turning into a seriously scary dictatorial figure, and the psychology involved in this is well treated and encourages readers to ponder the nature of power. One group absent, which I hope will be picked up on later, are the ones who founded a new religion and decided to hole themselves up in St. Paul's Cathedral. I'd love to see what happens with them.
Some of the scenes in the book are just brilliantly described, and create vivid (and sometimes very scary) images in your head. The Collector's den is certainly something I'd like to see on the big screen - these books seriously need to be made into films. Any directors reading this? Go on!
Superb read. For someone like me, who loves a bit of post-apocalyptic horror, it was unputdownable, and I really can't wait for the next one - The Sacrifice, due out next year.