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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars

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on 12 May 2017
The Sacrifice is the fourth book in The Enemy series and we have a pretty established cast of characters by now. This breaks the pattern of the preceding books in the series in that it doesn’t introduce a new cast, instead the book begins to further develop those we have already met. This is where Higson has woven his web, now he’s beginning to pull the strands together. London, the World for what matters, is becoming smaller as contact is established between the groups. Community is reborn in a fashion. This book sees a watershed in the narrative where the focal point of the series ceases to be coming to terms and coping with the new world, instead shifting to making sense of it and the pursuit of answers.

This book focuses primarily on two related stories and on one apparently separate one. The Sacrifice continues the chronology, following immediately after the events of The Fear. It begins to look at the development and evolution of the adults and the disease that has changed them beyond recognition and turned the world upside down.

After being taken in at the Tower of London, the Kid and Small Sam are keen to get back on the road to the Natural History Museum in search of Ella, Sam’s sister from whom he has become separated. Nice guy Ed, star of the second book isn't keen to let them go as it would mean going through the No Go Zone and that’s just suicide. However, they slip away after encouragement and persuasion from Tish, a green-clad girl that Ed rescued from grownups. The three of them head off towards Kensington. Their journey and their eventual (unexpected) destination is one half of the main story, and we find out what some divergent characters from The Dead have been getting up to for the last year.

Realising that they have put themselves in danger by leaving the tower and reluctant to lose any more kids after the disappearance of DogNut, Ed sets off with a small rescue party of loyal fighters to find Small Sam and The Kid. Stopping off at the Houses of Parliament, he discovers the existence of a sort of information exchange between settlements of kids and the hunters that destroy adults on a mercenary basis. It’s here he meets Nicola at Westminster and learns not only that DogNut passed through recently, but that Small Sam and his friend are not on their way to the museum at all, but have seen sighted near St. Paul’s Cathedral. He also learns of David’s settlement at the Palace and the expatriates that have fled his regime. Ed’s group’s pursuit of Sam and The Kid and their dramatic rescue make up the other side of the group-based story.

Separately, Shadowman has continued to track The Fear singlehandedly through London, observing them, learning their behaviour and gathering intelligence on them. The adults are beginning to display some signs of organisation- setting traps, using weapons, displaying a herd mentality- survival of the fittest. Naturally this disturbs Shadowman greatly. I really liked the accidental lapses in Shadowman, when he catches himself off guard almost feeling proud of The Fear, impressed by their strength and organisation. I'm increasingly intrigued about Shadowman’s character in general. Inherently mysterious, he’s obviously an incredible survivor, intelligent and resourceful and he’s demonstrated both a detached and hardened exterior and a surprisingly heroic side. He's a contradiction and an enigma. What intrigues me most is his peripheral nature. The main story wouldn't be hugely different without him, but the amount of time invested in his narrative makes him seem incredibly important. I look forward to seeing where Shadowman is going.

Another aspect of this book that really caught my imagination was the religious themes. Being a huge extremist, Mad Matt, Pope of the religion of The Lamb really has change to flex his crazy muscles in this book. His pomposity, his arrogance and his fundamentalism lead him to make some really dodgy decisions- decisions that are not seen only in Theocracy but in Military rule too. But I liked that the scared 14 year old showed through sometimes. It’s something not communicated very often- that religious extremists might have a scared and confused person inside that just wants someone to tell them to stop. Is it important that the two primary themes are evolution and religion in this book? Is that intentionally polarised? Is Wormwood, the monster living underneath St. Paul’s some kind of bridge between the two? I honestly can't wait to find out.

Not as character driven as the previous installments of the series, The Sacrifice definitely gives the reader the sense that things are heating up. The adults are evolving, the settlements are all up to their necks in their own problems and conflicts. David is trying to take over the physical World, Matt the Spiritual one. The politics of power have remained dangerous and contaminating throughout. The kids are starting to ask questions about the disease, they’re starting to get a grip on the new world, establish an order, get things organised. But unfortunately so are their advisories. The adults in this fourth book are truly terrifying. They've stopped simply being gross and dangerous and have become eerie and uncanny, automatons in some cases. It’s just getting weirder. I'm continually baffled by the breadth of the narrative in this story and the skill with which the separate strands are all developed, reigned in then combined. To have so many plates spinning and to still leave the reader gagging for more is a pretty incredible feat. I'm sad already to have passed into the concluding half of the series. Two more books to go!
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on 27 June 2017
daughter loves it
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on 26 April 2017
Great book
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on 31 July 2013
The world according to Higson is terrifying ... life is so fragile and fleeting ... the characters so well crafted. I thoroughly enjoyed this and yet it made my spine tingle in horror.
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on 10 July 2017
Scary books for teenagers - love it! Swift delivery.
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on 5 July 2017
I love this book series, great story line and reads easily
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on 19 March 2013
Fourth of the series. There were some icky moments but otherwise it's the best of the series! 5 stars every day of the week!!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 September 2012
A seven year old who can read any book he wants. Some people may feel these books are too frightening for children - but it all depends on the child. My child finds it silly to be frightened by things that are not real - but Charlie Higson's books made him want to read so badly he jumped from reading picture books to YA books. The character development is second to none, Higson really brings each one to life. Ina sense this is also his downfall - the charcters are too real and even as an adult - you don't like to see one die. None of the books in this series has any lulls between action, from the first page you can't wait to get to the next. These are books you just can't bear to put down. I remember reading the first books long into the night to my son - only to find him awake at 3 am reading more on his own. These books are so good I feel they could work wonders for literacy and should be in every library.

However - my son never forgave the author for killing off a certain character in a previous book and he wasn't sure if he wanted to get this one. I couldn't stand the idea of not reading the rest of the story and bought this for myself the day it came out. It was so good I read it in one sitting. I do not like zombie books - but this is not the typical undead book relying on slash and bash to cover a weak story. This does have violence, but there is so much more to it as children attempt to rebuild society while dealing with hordes of flesh eating diseased ( not undead) adults. It has often been compared to Lord Of the Flies. There are similarities. In all honesty Higson's books are better and that is high praise. I am an adult - but I love these books and feel Higson is one of the best writers of this era. I would however, recommend you read the other books in this series rather than staring with this one. It is a continuing story and this does build on many events from "The Dead".

For those who have read the previous books - this one sees the return of Mad Matt - and some very interesting twists and turns - could his prophecies really have any truth in them? There are a few threads parallel to each other in this volume. Shadowman continues to monitor Gregg the Butcher's Army as it comes closer and loser to an inevitable catastrophic battle between good and evil - but we're going to have wait for book 5 for the final showdown. We're also going to have to wait for book 5 to see the events of book 4 with museum kids resolved.In the meantime - diseased adults are not their only enemy. Small Sam and the Kid will also feature heavily and we will come to see something very unique about this strange small character. Finally we will see more of Ed, by favourite character in the series. Ed started off a very ordinary child, frozen by fear in the first episode. He has grown into a true leader. The children or survivors as many of them are well on the way to adulthood, will also discover somehting about the orgins of the plague - but again we'll have to wait for book 5 to see what use they can make of this.

I have no problem recommending this book to adults - it is an excellent story. Carlie Higson is in fact my favourite author, and this my favourite series. Teenagers and preteens will likely love it even more. As to very young children, such as my own son - it all depends on the child's tastes. I would recommend that parents read this with the child - or read it on their own and talk about it with them - but I would not recommend censorship. Some children may find this to scary - others will love it. Different children like different types of books - if we limit what children can read - we will further limit the number of children who do read. Reading the books your children read yourself not only allows you to discuss any sensitive issues - I believe it does really encourage children to read as well. - it makes our family into our own miniature book club. As an added plus - you may find you enjoy this book as much as your child does. I do hope Mr Higson gets the book 5 out as quickly as possible. I can't wait to read it.

* This review also appears on dooyoo as a much longer and more detailed piece.
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on 24 October 2012
I have read every one of the books in this series, this last one took me two days, I think to market them just for teenagers would be unfair, although I think reading this in school would probably make more teenagers take up reading.

I would go as far to say there's not many adult books ive read recently that can stand next to these, and as much as I couldnt wait to see what happened to Small Sam, the Kid and Ed, I was gutted to finish the book, I have also got my husband hooked, and hes reading through the series as fast as I was.

I do love my zombies books (although these are technically not the undead), but I think these explore so much more, I love that there are characters who are moral and upstanding and who you want so much to be okay, and characters who are slightly off the wall, who again you want to pick up and remove from danger.

Although I want to know what happens to them all, ultimately, it will be a sad time when this series end. The new Harry Potter series for the cooler adults.
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on 11 October 2012
The Sacrifice is the fourth book in the series following The Enemy, The Dead and The Fear. This time the story follows Sam and The Kid in their efforts to find Sam's sister. Sam and The Kid were picked up by a group of kids based at the Tower of London led by Ed at the end of The Dead. Ed continues to play a part in this story and he crosses paths with a few individuals from across the series this time around. The interlinking stories format continues to work extremely well.

Sam is a really likeable character, not as old as a lot of the previous central characters and so his behaviour and thought processes work differently. This comes across well and you can't help but like him for being a cute, almost comical kid, but also a strong, determined one. The Kid continues to act in his strange, humorous way with his unusual way of speaking. At first you just find him funny but as the story progresses and events unfold you start to see him as more of a real person, not as daft as he seems, and suffering just as everyone else is, and not just someone to add a little comedy value.

Shadowman also has his story expanded. I had really hoped that he would become a bigger character in the ongoing saga and I was not to be disappointed. He continues to battle on in his own unique way in an attempt to learn more about the changing behaviour of a group of sicko's that he named The Fear in the last book. This is the group lead by The Butcher / Greg / St George that appeared to be learning / adapting / communicating when previously they just appeared to be thoughtless, brain-dead things only bothered about feasting on the flesh of any surviving children that they could find.

This book also marks the return of a character that was steadily going crazier and crazier in the The Dead with his religious ranting. This is one that I particularly disliked, but in a good way. His part in the story is well written but he is the sort of person that I would absolutely detest in the real world. He is just so frustrating and this comes across extremely well. He easily fits into the category of stereotypical cult leader, convinced that he is right and yet constantly changing his stories / theories / interpretations to suit what he believes / wants, and to get others to follow him. What a cult! Do his religious ramblings about The Lamb and The Goat have any real relevance and if so is he heading in the right direction with his interpretation of it all?

There is also a new addition to the cast in the form of Wormwood. I won't say much about him because that might give away a bit too much. He is an important person in the story though even if he is a bit peculiar.

There are plenty of other characters that I could talk about but the ones I have mentioned are the key players around which the story is told. Yet again all of the people are really interesting and you feel differently about each one. You love some, hate others, laugh at a few, pity a couple and cheer on some. You feel happy and sad as things happen throughout the book. These individuals feel real. They are not just words in a book.

The story itself takes on a slightly different style to the previous books in that they were more action packed whereas this time the blood and gore takes a slight step down to be replaced by story that expands on the behaviour and needs of the children and changing methods of the sickos. It does still have its fair share of gruesome, splatfest scenes, but they don't play as large a role in the plot this time around. This was a good change of pace and a great way to keep the whole story interesting, eliminating any chance of it becoming repetitive.

Whilst not being perfect, this is certainly one of the most entertaining series of books that I have read. It keeps the reader interested by having numerous stories branching out and coming together in a way that never fails to impress me. At no point does the timeline fall apart due to the numerous plots linking in impossible ways. In short, this series goes from strength to strength and I can't wait for book five to come out.
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