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on 6 October 2009
I bought this book for my son, aged 11, who is a reluctant reader. He is really enjoying this book and comes through to tell me what is happening in it (a first). I think he is reading this for pleasure rather then because I make him read. He likes the way it is written and because it is exciting and about children his age trying to survive.
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on 9 October 2010
While I usually prefer a first-person narrative, Charlie Higson's zombie horror The Enemy is very much an ensemble piece - and that's part of what makes it so frightening. This isn't the story of one character's nightmare future: it's a story that both male and female teens can find a version of themselves reflected in. There are characters here from all walks of life - from the kids who have found shelter at a downmarket grocery store because it's the one their parents shopped at, to those who have already spent years having leadership qualities instilled in them at expensive boarding schools. Their lives before adults started turning into zombies were worlds apart, but now they're all facing the same horror... and it's pretty obvious none of them can survive alone. So when a small group of survivors are visited by a strangely-dressed boy who tells them there is a safe place left in the city, they figure they've got nothing to lose in setting off through the zombie-infested streets in the hope that it's true - and that some of them will make it there alive.

Without a single protagonist we can count on to triumph against the odds, there's a real sense that any of these characters can die at any time - and many of them do. The world Charlie Higson has created is a dangerous one, and he doesn't let the reader forget it for a second. Because unlike the majority of undead creatures you'll find in recent young adult fiction, Higson's zombies are hardcore. They're decomposing, they eat human flesh and they're scary as hell. I'm not especially squeamish, but even I found myself fighting nausea at several of The Enemy's more stomach-churning episodes. The best / worst part? These zombies are all that the survivors have left of their parents' generation. Our young characters even refer to the undead as Mothers and Fathers - they're running scared of the very people who should be protecting them from danger, and that's both dark and poignant in itself.

If all this is sounding pretty terrifying, that's because it is. But strangely, there's an element of wish fulfilment in this terrible scenario that somehow also makes The Enemy... fun. With all sense of authority gone, those aged fourteen and under now have free run of London. Hiding out in a supermarket, shopping for free in one of the city's most famous department stores, and even getting to explore Buckingham Palace - the possibilities are endless, as long as they can avoid becoming a zombie's lunch. For those determined to restore some sense of order to society, there's also the possiblity of creating a brave new world - but they'll have to convince the less law-abiding peers first, and that's a whole other battle in itself.

The Enemy is a gripping new take on a horror staple. It's a book that reimagines the familiar theme of zombie apocaplyse for a YA audience - and ends up being all the scarier for it. While action tends to take a front seat, there's enough character development to satisfy those who can't survive on plot alone... as long as they like it with a side order of oozing gore. Chilling.
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on 1 January 2015
For a long time Charlie Higson’s - The Enemy book series has been on my TBR pile. Last month was my birthday and I was gifted the full series, all other reads and reviews were put on hold I had to delve head first into this post-apocalyptic world where adults are no longer the protector but instead, kid chomping psychopathic killers.

Early into the Enemy it is apparent that no one is safe and Higson doesn’t hold back on the violence and gore. The characterisation is superb and Higson has you siding with the kids sheltering in Waitrose supermarket and hoping for their sake there is light at the end of this monster filled tunnel. Each kid is unique with their own set of personality traits and skills which they are made to utilise in order to survive. It’s easy to become attached to each kid and it really is an unexpected and devastating shock when one dies.

The story firstly introduces you to the kids of Waitrose, some children seem to have grouped at the old supermarkets where their parents shopped. Further down the street are the kids of Morrison’s who are described as rivals as both groups scavenge for the limited supplies in the area. The Waitrose kids are led by Arron, who quickly became my favourite character. He and a few others scavenge the surrounding area for supplies whist Maxie, his second in charge looks after the fort and the younger children. Things turn bad for both parties as Arron’s group are set upon by a murderous pack of “Mothers and Fathers” losing a member of their group whereas Maxie loses one of the younger kids, Sam, who is abducted. It becomes evident that the kids cannot continue surviving this way.

Apparent salvation comes to the group in the form of a stranger calling himself Jester. Stories of Buckingham Palace and a safe haven for children quickly results in both the Waitrose and Morrison’s groups joining and working together, travelling across London to see for themselves.

Throughout the book there is nail biting action filled with gore and unimaginable puss-filled horror. The action is quick, bloody and brutal and makes for an extremely fast pace, enthralling read. I’m a little late reviewing this book due to this characteristic and instead opted to use my spare time reading the rest of the series, it’s just that good. Some potential readers might feel put off because the main protagonists are teenagers but trust me, Higson’s post-apocalyptic zombie novel isn’t no PG15 and you can expect the blood and guts you would find in any good zombie story.

I highly recommend these books, hugely entertaining with horror galore, enthralling and hard to put down but also leaving you dreading what will happen next.
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Horror books are not usually my cup of tea, but in my job as librarian/story teller for a school I do like to keep abreast of current trends in children's fiction. I'm always on the look out for well written books that will work for boys in particular. Someone recommended Charlie Higson's zombie books to me, and I thought I'd give the first one a try.

I work in a primary school and it was pretty clear from the beginning that this is not primary school material. There is a great deal of violence and some swearing in the books, none of which make them suitable for 4-11 year olds. It's a shame really, because there are some boys in the top years in the school who I know would absolutely love these books, but I cannot stock them. I can recommend them, with cautions, and I will.

I loved this book, absolutely loved it. It is clever and well written and extremely pacey. I finished it in a sitting. Someone said it was rather like Lord of the Flies with zombies, and I think, if you're looking for a pithy summation, that will do as well as any other.

A mysterious virus/illness/plague has infected everyone over the age of fourteen. Great numbers of them have died, but some are taking a long time to die, and while they're about it they have turned into ramshackle, diseased, flesh eating monsters who prey on and eat children.

The children who survive are holed up in various locations around London, trying to find ways to keep alive.

We first meet a group of children who are based in Waitrose on Holloway Road, having converted it to a rudimentary fort style base. They send out scavenging parties for food, and we encounter them on a scavenging trip that goes horribly wrong. Events spiral out of control as it becomes clear that the zombies are changing tactics, becoming harder to pick off, and working together. The children are forced to leave their base and make their way across London, hooking up with various other survivors along the way.

The characters are fantastically drawn. I love the different narratives that thread through the novel, following different characters as they merge and split from each other's groups. I loved everything about this book, including the London setting. In fact, I think that was the thing that really made it work for me. I know the places Higson writes about so well that it made the whole story come alive in a way that perhaps it wouldn't otherwise have done.

I am off to pick up volume two today. I literally cannot wait.
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on 21 September 2012
I got this after reading through the all of the fantastic Zombie Fallout books by Mark Tufo and wanted something to fill the gap until book 6 of his series came out. I wasn't sure if it would be satisfying enough because of the fact it is aimed at younger readers as well as us `old kids' and therefore may be a bit tame in its content. By the time I had got past the first twenty or so pages I was hooked though.

There is no steady introduction to the characters before getting into the action. It just throws you in at the deep end and does an excellent job of letting you know what each person is like through their actions and attitudes. These kids are a great mix of personalities and how they behave is different to how adults behave in other zombie / disaster stories. It is entirely believable that they would act as they do if faced with a catastrophe on the scale of the one they are going through.

The plot runs along at a great pace. It never slows down to a speed where it becomes dull and yet manages to have brief rests where the some of characters personalities are allowed to come out more. These characters are treated as real people though, not super heroes, and real people die. So a character that may seem like they are going to be there for the long haul could quite easily be dead within a few pages, whilst another that you think is a goner can unexpectedly reappear. They are also faced with believable problems such as whether they will be better off where they are or moving elsewhere to a supposed "promised land".

My concern about it being too tame wasn't necessary either. The blood, guts, puss and general gore is there for those that want it. One bit almost had me putting the book down until I had finished my left over curry that I was having for lunch at work. It was particularly sickening whilst trying to eat. The `zombies' sometimes behave slightly differently to your usual brainless eating machines too. Only slightly, but it does make a slight difference to how they need to be fought. In a post catastrophe world though, zombies are not the only enemy to look out for.

I'm now on with The Dead (The Enemy), book 2 in this series and I'm just as hooked after the first few pages. Excellent stuff!
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A strange illness has struck Britain, affecting everyone over the age of 15. The lucky ones died. The unlucky ones were driven mad and left with a terrible hunger for human flesh.

Maxie and Arran lead a group of kids who've set up camp in the Waitrose in Camden but their food supplies have gone and they must send foraging parties to look for supplies elsewhere. Their main rivals are a group of kids who have set up a similar camp in Morrisons supermarket led by Blue. Competition for resources is fierce. Worse, the grown-ups are getting organised - their attacks on the camps are more co-ordinated and they're setting up ambushes for unwary stray kids.

One day a strange boy arrives - Jester - bringing news of a commune of kids living in Buckingham Palace - kids who grow their own food and have their own medical supplies. Aware that their situation is untenable, Arran and Maxie take the decision to move their group to the commune. THE ENEMY follows their merger with the Morrisons crew, their journey across London, the alliances they make and what they find at Buckingham Palace. This story intermingles it with the story of Small Sam (a boy taken by the grown-ups but who manages to escape and is engaged in his own, equally dangerous journey, to rejoin the group) and of Callum (a boy who decides to stay behind).

The first in a series, THE ENEMY is a terrific story about survival and kids managing on their own in a confused situation with no information. There is a lot of gore and violence in the story together with some swear words so it's not for sensitive readers. Higson's also unafraid to kill characters who you are fond of, sometimes in wrenching circumstances.

The wide cast of characters means it's sometimes confusing to work out who's who - particularly with side characters - so I cared about some characters less. A cast list would have been useful (although the book comes with maps and an interview with the author, which are a lot of fun). Sam is undoubtedly the hero of the story for me - it's easy to root him on in his journey to be reunited with his younger sister, Ella, and he really develops as his journey continues.

All in all this is an exhilarating, scary read and one that budding zombie fans will love.
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on 18 February 2010
For Christmas I treated my to The Enemy by Charlie Higson. It tells the story of a world were all adults have become sick and turned in to stupid crazed children-eating monsters. The disease effecting the adults doesn't effect children under fourteen. You are quickly absorbed in to this world and meet two groups of children living on the outskirts of London. The first group lives in Waitrose and the second in Morrisons.

You soon discover that when the children go in to the streets scavenging for food that it is unsafe, filled with diseased and disgusting adults looking hungrily at them. There is real fear of danger amongst the children as they are being picked off one by one, weakest first.

As the many children characters are introduced each with their own attributes, skills and personalities you begin to care for them. One night outside of the Waitrose a lone child is being attacked by the adults. The Waitrose group rescue him and he tells them and the Morrison group of a place of safety: Buckingham Palace. The adults start off slow moving, unorganised and stupid meaning the children who are more intelligent and faster moving have the advantage. Although don't let this fool you as if -or should I say when they get hold of the children they are much stronger and brutal. Some characters discover this for themselves as they meet a bloody end. As you continue to read the story you see the adults starting to get more organised and efficient and one seems to stand out. Is it possible these monsters have a leader?

You join the children as they head out with their destination set for Buckingham Palace. But will they make it? And will it really be safe? And if it is safe ' will it what the children expect? The book becomes a page-turner that you are unable to put down as you follow the many twists, turns and surprises. At one point, I simply couldn't put it down. I finished the 407 page book in two days.

As you finally reach the end you are left with questions as you discover that this book is the first in a series of books.
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on 1 January 2010
I saw this book in the library, and although it is a kids book I liked Charlie Higson in the Fast Show so I decided to give it a go.
Well! It may have been aimed at people a good decade younger than me but I loved this book. I realy got sucked into the story and at times I found I was biting my nails as I read. During some of the scenes my heart was pounding and I ended up reading the whole thing in one go.
I would definitely recommend this book to other adults - the characterisation was very good, I got a real feel for the characters, and Higsons descriptions were excellent. There is certainly enough going on here to keep adults entertained.
I liked the way that Higson was not afraid to kill off main characters and that he did not shy away from less palatable topics. I thought the political angle as well was well handled. This was far better than some of the thrillers and horror stories aimed at adults and Higson is a skilled writer, able to write convincing dialogue and maintain the suspense and pace throughout the novel.
I think this would make an excellent book for younger people, although I would be wary of giving it to very young or particularly sensistive children as some of the descriptions are quite gory and graphic at times.
The premise of the story, as outlined by others, is that a mystery illness has struck, killing off the majority of people over the age of 14. Those that are not killed become kind of zombiefied, no longer fully human, and these grown-ups kill and eat children. A group of kids are living together ina supermarket when they hear rumour that Buckingham Palace is a safe place amidst the hell and chaos, and so they decide to try and get there for a better life. However the journey will not be easy, and they have no way of knowing if they really will be better off at the palace. Is it all just too good to be true?
A brilliant read though and I will be eagerly awaiting the sequeal.
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on 6 April 2010
I first saw this book in my local book store - well, with a shedload of x-ray'd skulls on the cover it was kind of hard to miss, even for a guy who's eyes are pretty much shot! As was (and still is) the case, I didn't have the money to buy it there and then, but even then, I put it on my "Books to Buy" list (which is exponentially long and only getting longer).

Boy, I'm glad I did.

Higson, well known for his other series, the Young Bond novels, shows his diversity and his ability to write complex plots superbly with this book, which is clearly aimed at an older audience from the outset - the descriptions of the adults' gruesome forms is stomach turning to the extreme, and the deaths (of which there are a fair few) are brutally described and, for want of a better term, executed.

With an ensemble cast of characters that is changing all the time, it can be hard to keep a track of them all, especially when there are multiple viewpoints from several characters, but Higson manages to navigate this hurdle by mostly ditching conventional names and going more for nicknames (well, I assume so, particularly in the case of Achillius), which helps to make each character stand out.

Higson weaves a work of brilliance, tense, exciting, dark to the extreme (if this was a film it would almost certainly be rated 15), and ultimately fulfilling. I have only one sentence of advice:

Don't read it at night!
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on 23 March 2014
Read this book whilst trying to research great texts for upper key stage 2 pupils. I would recommend for age 11 up, but I loved it anyway! One of the best books I've read in quite a while! Y5 teacher.
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