Having waited a year for this book I couldn't wait to get my teeth into it. The previous four books in the series are excellent and this instalment is no less brilliant. You really do need to have read the previous books to understand the story and characters though. Don't try reading this if you haven't.
Set just after event from The Enemy
and running simultaneously to events in The Sacrifice (The Enemy)
the surviving kids that reached the Natural History Museum now have new problems to contend with. Not only do they have to get along with a new group of kids that are initially suspicious of them, but there is also someone sabotaging their safe haven, (read The Enemy to learn about who this is).
The museum kids have a bit of a science division set up and are trying to work out what is causing the illness in adults, possibly even to find a cure. They are, however, not fighters. This is where Blue, Maxie, Big Mick and the rest of the gang come in. They can provide the muscle and security needed on an expedition suggested by the lead `scientist', Einstein. He wants to go to a scientific research facility near Heathrow to get medical supplies and research equipment to use in their labs at the museum.
As with most events throughout this series things are never easy and the trip across London gets a bit messy. The sickos cause problems as normal and the two groups of kids argue about how to do things and who should be in charge. A clash of personalities amongst teenagers... Who would have thought it possible?
Once at the facility there are more new problems and mysteries to work out. Who is at this place? What are they? Are they safe? It's a rather strange turn of events and at first I was unsure whether Mr Higson had maybe taken things a bit too far down the weirdness route. However, things are explained and it is worth reading this book just for these new additions to the already amazing character roster.
The character list is brilliant in that you feel different things towards them all. Love, hate, pity, sadness, respect... you want the good guys to succeed and the bad guys to get their just deserts. None of them ever feel like they don't serve any purpose in the story.
The series is quite a gruesome one and has had more than its fair share of blood and gore splattered scenes. The Sacrifice had slightly less of it though and this book is along the same level. Again, it seems to focus more on the kids working together and creating groups of differing skill sets than on constantly killing sickos. It's this building of the central characters that makes the series so brilliant. Some of them change as events unfold, some of them don't. Some are natural leaders, whilst others just like to think they are. Some put on a brave face whilst being inwardly terrified, and others are just in it for the fight and don't appear to be afraid of anything. Constant battling would just get tedious. The people need to be interesting to keep your attention, and they certainly keep your attention here. All these groups of people mean there are various plots running simultaneously. All of them are great and I can't wait to find out how they pull together. This book makes a start on this in a welcome event that led to an intriguing twist.
As I understand it there are to be seven main books in total, so I'm guessing that the stories are going to really start coming together in the next two books. Unfortunately, that means waiting another year for my fix of kids vs. sickos.
Also, see if you can spot and work out the anagram that Mr Higson has used for the name of something.