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VINE VOICEon 12 November 2009
I first heard of this book from the creepy adverts for it on TV, the description sounded haunting, promising. Ordinary kids living ordinary lives, only for everything to change. Adults gone, reduced to slavering zombies eager to kill and eat the kids left behind.

Set in London, Higson's writing bears a lot in common with his contemporaries Anthony Horowitz and Garth Nix - it's got that youthful snappiness to it that grips you from end to start. It's quick, witty and in terms of the kids' dialogue, feels very natural. Crucially in this novel, you are made to really feel for the kids, to put yourself in their place (something aided by some wonderful description) - and thus, it's even more horrific when any of the protagonists are killed.

We are presented with a ruined city left in tatters, a year after all adults have suddenly transformed into shambling diseased hulks. A handful of kids, mainly ranging from 8-15 are left to scavenging homes and supermarkets to eke out an existence, constantly on the run from the `grown-ups'.

In time they are tempted away to seek out Buckingham Palace after hearing that it is apparently `safe', the promise of a better life proving irresistible to them. We are given an account of their dangerous journey across London, only to find when they finally arrive at the palace, that all is not quite what it seems. There's a strong essence of some of the themes of Watership Down here, the book as a whole coming out as a kind of mix of 28 Days Later and The Lord Of The Flies. And it works to perfection.

The relationships between the kids, from the bonds built up as they try to survive, to the opposite side of the coin - the conflicts when opinions clash. This in many ways lies at the heart of the novel, human notions like greed often leading to awful consequences as the protagonists are in turn tempted. If there's one criticism, it's that the ending is very open and a lot is left completely unresolved - although this is most likely due to the fact the ending leads on to a sequel.

All in all though, The Enemy is a thrilling book - scary, moving, dramatic, action-packed, everything you want in a teen novel.
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They'll chase you. They'll rip you open. They'll feed on you.

When the sickness came, every parent, police officer, politician - every adult- fell ii. 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.

The story starts with a bang, a daring daylight raid by a posse of diseased and animalistic adults that sees them make off with a small boy for the larder. It's a dramatic start that sets the tone for the rest of the story and cleverly slips in a whole bucketful of background info.

By the time we join the story, the mysterious plague has already wreaked its havoc on the adult population and the city; the kids who are still around have already learned hard lessons and are, in the most part, veterans of their apocalypse. Their position is precarious; while their current hideout is secure for the moment, it isn't sustainable; there are too many mouths to feed and resources are rapidly running out.

While not a wholly original concept, what makes The Enemy stand out is the constant feeling that a big brown comet is about to hit the fan; it's a relentless tension uniting the escapades of the various characters as time runs out and the adults start displaying symptoms of a cunning, feral intelligence. It's really one of those `missed-my-station' books- it's hard to tear yourself away once you get into it. Charlie doesn't pull any punches on the violence either, an important consideration that prevents anything from being taken for granted and makes for scenes of exquisite tension, because there's never any doubt what is at risk.

The principal characters are well drawn and convincing; their bravado and desperation is underpinned by sometimes poignant reminders that these are, after all, otherwise normal kids who've been plunged into a world where everyone they're supposed to trust is trying to eat them.

I've not read any of Charlie's previous offerings, but if they're anywhere as gripping, tense and more-ish as The Enemy then I've done myself a disservice.
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on 17 September 2010
My 11 year old son is a VERY reluctant reader, prefering to play computer games (unfortunately!). When I gave him this book, he was his usual, "oh no, I've got to read" self, however, from the start, he was hooked. He absolutely loved the story and finished the book in record speed. I couldn't believe how much he enjoyed the story and how captivated he was by the book, even reading in the car which he NEVER does! I didn't need to nag him to do some reading, which is a rare thing in itself! He said it was the best book he had read! He couldn't wait for the second book to come out, which arrived yesterday and he is itching to start The Dead! I haven't read the book so I don't know the story but from what my son says, there are scary bits in it. He was fine and didn't suffer any nightmares but if your child is sensitive or easily scared, then perhaps 11 might be a bit young for this book.
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"They'll chase you, they'll rip you open, they'll feed on you..."

I have a confession to make. I'm thirty six years old and when I first decided to do a zombie themed month on The Eloquent Page I didn't even consider including any young adult fiction. In the last couple of years I have read exactly two books that could be described as YA fiction. Both were pretty good, and I'll be reviewing one of them next month but I never thought something like zombie fiction could really exist for a younger readers. Let's be honest, flesh eating killers tend not to be the most upbeat bunch. In my experience, a lot of zombie fiction isn't really what you would consider ideal for a younger audience. I guess, in hindsight though, that is the challenge - creating a zombie novel that does work for teens.

Initially, I was somewhat sceptical of The Enemy by Charlie Higson. A couple of years ago I tried to read Silverfin, his first Young James Bond novel and failed rather epically. It's not that the book was bad, I just tried to read it at a time when I could not give it the attention it deserved. Ironically, I have had similar experiences with Ian Fleming's Bond novels as well. Perhaps it's just Bond in general I have issue with? That, and the fact I am about twenty years older than the target market.

The good news is that The Enemy was a completely different experience. I was able to focus on it over the course of a couple of days and found the story to be both moving and enthralling in equal measure.

Set in London a year after a viral outbreak has turned all adults into flesh craving monsters, the novel tells the story of a group of children hiding out in a Waitrose supermarket. Their existence is constantly threatened by roaming groups of 'mothers' and 'fathers' as the infected have come to be known. Into the group's midst arrives Jester. He is part of another group of children living comfortably in Buckingham Palace. Jester invites the children to come with him back to the relative safety of the ex-Royal household. The rest of the novel describes the children's difficult journey to what could be their new home.

The characterisation is just superb. I think Charlie Higson has created a very believable group. The older children are forced to act like grownups but occasional lapses prove they are all still terrified children at heart. There are a number of characters that stood out, but for me, there was one who elevated the whole experience of reading the novel. Small Sam is only nine years old. He is kidnapped by a group of adults and, after a daring escape, spends a large chunk of the novel trying to get back to his younger sister and the rest of his friends. Sam's story, as he moves from one horrific situation to another is utterly gripping. Though he is only nine he steadfastly refuses to give in to the gnawing horror the surrounds him. At one point he is in the London Underground system, alone, and is forced to confront some most unpleasant survivors. This whole section of the story very effectively portrays the sense of claustrophobia and panic that Sam was experiencing. It was genuinely creepy. I empathised with Sam as I have two young nephews and Sam's plight affected me more because I couldn't help imaging them in his situation. The horror for adults reading this book is the world that is left after the outbreak. Imagine the children in your life having to fend for themselves without your protection.

Unexpectedly The Enemy is one of the grossest zombie books I've read so far. I really didn't expect so much pus and face melting. There is a little swearing as well but really no worse than your average PG-13 film nowadays.

Overall I'm pleased to say that The Enemy met the challenge I mentioned earlier. Charlie Higson has crafted a superb novel that may just be the perfect introduction for a teen who wants to read about zombies.
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on 17 January 2013
When I started this book, I didn't realise it was aimed at teens - presumably I hadn't read the reviews. If I'd realised this fact, I probably wouldn't have bought it (I'm the wrong side of 60 and would be one of the losers!). However, I would have missed out because I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had everything I look for in a book - well-thought-out plot, plenty of action, believable characters which didn't suddenly do things out of character, suspense, and all this in a full length eBook in which I didn't note any typos or grammatical errors other than in speech which were obviously deliberate. Plenty of descriptive gore as well if you like that, and no gratuitous swearing (some, but in context) - nice to see in a story aimed at youngsters. The story has the main theme of some unexplained disease which only appears to affect adults, turning them into shambling zombies (I know a few of them already). Children and young teens are unaffected but have the problem that the zombies like to eat children! The story follows the fortunes (and misfortunes) of a group of children trying to survive. My favourite bit was when a boy says the "king" doesn't like being called "Dave" - he prefers "David" - is this a tongue in cheek reference to the Daily Mail's name for "CallMeDave" Cameron?! There are unanswered questions such as... What caused the catastrophe? Will the children also be diseased as they get older? There are several hooks at the end of the book which tempt the reader to have a go at the next in the series; perhaps these questions will be answered - I don't know yet, but I hope to find out.
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on 25 October 2012
I originally bought his as a paperback for my 12 year daughter to encourage her to read more. She still hasn't read it so I ordered it for my kindle to see what it was like. I couldn't put it down - read it in a day and cannot wait to read the next one.
It totally reminds me of 28 days later and The Lord of the Flies as another reviewer has said. I can see that it appeals to all ages although I am sure that it may be too disturbing for some youngsters.
It really is a page turner and I loved it! Anything that gets kids, teenagers and adults reading and off play station, DS or iPad has got to be recommended.
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on 25 January 2011
I bought this book not realising it was effectively a book aimed at teenagers. However I have to say It was more than readable. I think it would have benefitted from starting before 'the disaster', as it throws you straight in amidst a world of organised kids, with very little explanation of how they got there. Saying all this however, I found I kept returning to the book at every opportunity. I wouldnt say i couldnt put it down, but it certainly wasnt one i could ignore. Will definately be reading the sequel.
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on 6 March 2015
Warning - this book is not for the fragile. It does contain very descriptive scenes of violence (rated12) probably these days. However if you have a sensitive 12 year old then this book is not for them and perhaps best to try reading during the day to begin with. My 12 year old was perfectly fine with it but his younger brother by a year does not like us even talking about the book even without any of the scary bits! The book is set one year after the outbreak of the sickness which has turned all grown-ups into children eating crazies. The story follows the survival of a group of children holed up in London. It has sad and funny moments throughout the book and lets just say the plot does evolve as you read through the books. The book is a must for adult fans of the Walking Dead as with that TV series, this book has some engaging characters and good backdrops for story lines. It also fills a void in the teen market allowing younger readers a chance for a less visual and less violent yet still as thrilling look into this genre. Great first book in great series.
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on 30 March 2010
I wasn't too sure on this book as I'd never read anything by Higson before and saw that most of his books were for children but as it was in the zombie genre I decided to give it a go. I was not disappointed! Straight from the off you're thrown into a world of blood, guts and hardcore violence. I'd finished it in 2 days!! The story keeps you hooked and you genuinely care about the characters, all of whom are children of 14 and under.
However I wouldn't recommend this book to people who have children of that age. I'm not a parent but I've heard the thing they worry most about is leaving their children alone and this is basically what's happened. There are some really heart breaking 'scenes' where children are hurt but as there are no hospitals or adults to ask they subsequently die of their injuries.
But other than that I would recommend this again and again and have already lent out my copy to my friends. If you love the zombie or just general horror, this is the book for you. I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel!!
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on 3 September 2009
I managed to get this book yesterday and it's brilliant. Quite scary at times - Charlie Higson seems to know how to write horror and how to engage the reader. The ending is great and quite hard-hitting. A very good book by a very good author.
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