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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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on 21 October 2011
This is a brilliant book. I read this book in a day and a half. I bought it to read and see if it was suitable for my great grand son but he is too young for it, children need to be at least 12 or 13. It is exciting, very scary, a real can't out it down kind of book, grownups will enjoy it as well, I did and I'm 74 years old.
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on 4 October 2010
I was a bit worried when i found out that this book would be about a different group of kids and not the group from the enemy. But i was pleasantly surprised.
The action is great and the gore will genuinely make you squirm. The characters all have their own individual stories and you are gripped all the way
through. There are also some surprising twists that kep you reading further.
Overall, this book is amazing and if you are a teenage boy then you should get it. I really cant think of any other reason not to.
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on 12 May 2017
The second book in Higson's The Enemy series, The Dead takes place about a year prior to the first book, and focuses on the immediate aftermath of the outbreak of the horrific illness that turns previously normal adults into snarling, pus filled, cannibal zombies.

It starts with main characters and best friends Jack and Ed fighting off hoards of their former teachers at their secluded and exclusive boys' school. They're part of a group of surviving students holed up in one of the dormitories- after convincing their remaining group that it's not safe at school anymore, Ed and their friends set off for the countryside but Jack is determined to see his home again. On their not-as-straight-forward-as-they-would-like way out they rescue a second group of boys from the school chapel and gain a solitary girl, the French master's daughter Frederique. When the group are ambushed on the edge of town by a group of young, not-too-diseased adults, they sustain some pretty heavy losses and it all looks set to end for the boys. Even when it's life or death, Ed struggles with the idea of killing. He just can't seem to make himself do it. Fortunately for him, at the last second they're rescued by a coach driven by what seems like a healthy adult. Seeing strength in numbers, the group team up with the coach's inhabitants; a couple of primary aged kids, three attitude-heavy rude-girls and a couple of older kids. The stay for the safety and for the ride but it all goes quite spectacularly wrong for their driver.

The Dead populates the familiar tourist attractions of London with more settlements of kids- mostly in this instalment the Imperial War Museum. Where better to hole up during a Zombie apocalypse than in a building dedicated to warfare and weaponry? I loved how meticulously researched the museum sections are the references to the particular exhibits and galleries added more than the necessary detail and authenticity to the book and it really ensured that London played its part properly. The Oval and the Arsenal stadium also feature a little. This second part of the series also introduced environmental dangers- it's been a long time since fire was able to rage completely out of control but that's the reality now for these kids, and being burnt to death is no more pleasant than being eaten alive.

For the first half of the novel I still considered the cast of The Enemy to be the main characters and was waiting for this bunch to meet up with them. However, as the story progresses Ed, Jack, Frederique and the rest developed brilliantly and hacked out their own corner of the story, their own roles and their own share of the reader's concern. I liked how different best mates Ed and Jack were; one insecure about his appearance (due to his birthmark) but brave; a natural leader. Ed is good looking but struggles with the idea that he might be a coward and afraid he's not a survivor. Their difference, opposing reactions, opinions and coping strategies create loads of friction that kept them unpredictable and dangerous. I really liked the character of Chris Marker in this book. One of the original dormitory boys, he's always reading, even during an attack. He takes charge of the museum's library and starts thinking about what is surely one of the most important (if not entirely practical) questions; if the World is crashing down and society has collapsed, who is preserving and protecting the accumulated sum of human knowledge? Surely without this knowledge any future civilisation starts at year nought. That's a loooong walk down the road of progress before you get Internet again.

This book does a brilliant job of filling in the gaps left in the story of The Enemy and creating a richer, more complex and infinitely more dangerous world. Though for the most part the narrative follows a completely different cast of characters in similar but definitely different scenarios, there are a few individuals that cross over from the pages of the first book. I love the feeling of that sudden burst of understanding when you as a reader put two and two together and join up the dots. We learn more about David King, knowing that he will eventually become the little dictator in charge of Buckingham Palace. We learn the origin of St. George, the dangerously intelligent grown up that led the siege on the Waitrose supermarket in the first book. We can see Higson expertly pulling the strings of his world, revealing links and connections between the scattered bands of kids and their increasingly decayed assailants.

In all honesty, I can't praise these books enough. So far this series is genuinely tense, it's properly chilling and there's no heroic immunity. Higson will and does kill off a main character every now and again. Being central does not make you safe. The quality of the prose is brilliant. Unnecessarily brilliant. It's already full of bum-clenching tension, gore, anarchy, tyranny and brutality; there is absolutely no need for it to be skilfully and intricately written. But it is. The imagery is second to none and the keenness and accuracy with which the streets of London are rendered is pretty amazing. Higson seems to have a really good understanding of how people (kids especially) tick. He knows what scares them, what motivates them, how far people will go to get what they want. He sort of sneakily raises questions about power and government, about how those that seek power almost always turn out to be inherently evil and that those who have responsibility thrust upon them against their will are always better, fairer, more beloved leaders. The idea of religion and its value/lack of value in real everyday survival is raised in this book too. It's possible that Small Sam, snatched by the grown ups in the first book is about to become a God...

Brilliant. I've bought the rest of the series- I need to see how the big arcs pan out.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 April 2016
I really wanted to love this book; it has all the elements of a fantastic YA zombie World for me. But despite this, I just couldn't get into it. And there were so many times I almost threw in the towel. First, here's why I didn't and why you might like it:

The Enemy is the first of seven books in what must be a really addictive series for YA fans - particularly to have sustained so many sequels. Which makes me question if I even read the same book to be honest. It features a group of kids stuck in a world riddled with grown ups. But not the friendly kind, not the parental kind, not even the grumpy neighbour kind - all the grown ups are the rip your face off and eat you kind. Not. Good.

This makes for a really interesting read at first as the reader comes to terms with how the world became so damaged and infectious. I was itching to find out where the infection came from, how it's spread, if the kids can catch it and much more. I absolutely love books which make me want more in this way.

There are a great deal of characters to contend with at first, and ostensibly this is the story of their survival against all the odds as they try to work together to find a safe place. I love how the author split the story into the individual experiences of some of the characters to try and make it a more interesting read and I often felt like I was genuinely listening to kids speak - Charlie Higson really has nailed the dialogue between his characters which makes for a convincing story.

The plot moves swiftly with plenty of action, swift changes in the plot and some largely unexpected character deaths to keep the reader guessing. Sadly, the good stuff ends there. Because it was at this point, when key characters were killed off grimly, that I realised I just didn't care about any of them.

I'm the kind of reader who needs to get invested in the characters to really enjoy the story and get sucked in. A large fault of this story is that there are too many characters with superficial personalities or uninteresting stories to grab my attention. This made it hard to connect with any of them. Equally, we rarely get any genuine insight into what the characters might actually be thinking, because the story is just a little too simple to necessitate this, which became fairly boring relatively quickly.

There is just enough gore to pique my interest, but most of the excitement about a good zombie book comes with the rules - how are you infected? What can you do to protect yourself? And because there didn't ever appear to be any and only the adults seemed affected, there was no thrill when the kids went exploring - worst case scenario was one gets stuffed in a bag and kidnapped, presumably to be eaten, but even the mystery behind why they aren't just instantly devoured was left unexplained.

There's so much potential here, and I'd like to think that this book is just setting up for a massively exciting plot arc. But I just don't see that happening. It's clear Higson is a talented writer with imagination for days, which is why this was all the more disappointing because there was nothing new, tense or gripping about this story. I won't be investing my time in the next 6! However it appears to be a hit with many readers, so I hope you have more luck than me with this one!
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on 17 August 2017
Book 2 of Charlie Higson’s ‘The Enemy’ series doesn’t see the return of the original gang from book 1. Instead, ‘The Dead’ introduces us to a new set of characters, living in a world set one year before the events of ‘The Enemy’. I have to say I was more than a bit disappointed to discover this, especially after investing so much, emotionally, in the original group. And to be honest, I was eager to find out what the heck had happened to them all! However, in order to move forward we sometimes have to go back, so I began reading ‘The Dead’ with a sense of anticipation. Where would this new group go? What would they encounter? And how would their story fit with that of the group from book 1?

When we first meet the new group – made up for the most part by a group of school boys and a rag-tag assortment of kids trying to get to London on a bus – the school boys are trapped in their school by a bunch of sick teachers, all of whom have turned or are turning into zombies. The boys soon realise that their only hope of survival is to escape the school and the village it’s located in. The group is at odds however; some believing it’s safer in the countryside, whilst others think heading to London would make more sense. As a result, the group is initially split up before meeting again after a horrific zombie attack leaves one group with no other option but to retrace their steps.

Once again, Higson doesn’t hold back in ‘The Dead’. It’s a full-on gore fest, describing in graphic detail the putrid zombies, their faces covered in pustules, noses running continuously, eyes red and consumed by a rage that would put The Hulk to shame. These are not the slow-moving, brainless zombies of many a Hollywood movie; these ones can run fast and still have a modicum of intelligence, meaning they’re not to be taken lightly when you encounter one.

There are definitely good and bad aspects to this instalment. As we’re essentially starting from the beginning, much of what’s been before in ‘The Enemy’ is rehashed here, which doesn’t make for particularly interesting reading. After all, we already know what will happen if you’re caught by a zombie, encounter a sick-looking adult or you happen to be over the age of 14. But for this group, none – or very little – is known about these things, so we have to watch as they learn what and what not to do.

The problem with this approach is that it makes the first third of the book very slow going indeed. It takes almost 30 chapters for the group to finally make it to their destination and when they do, they encounter another group of kids who are less than welcoming. It doesn’t take long for everyone to make friends however when they realise there is safety in numbers, but this detracts from the sense of danger and apprehension that could have been developed out of having two groups battling against each other, as well as against the zombies.

What saves ‘The Dead’ from being an almost carbon copy of ‘The Enemy’ however is the story of Ed, Jack and Bam, three members of the schoolboy group who decide for very personal reasons, to embark on a separate journey of their own. Their encounters with the zombies – or ‘sickos’ as they fondly call them – in particular one in a well-known landmark, genuinely make the heart pound and re-establish the fact that these are children, operating in a world that is completely alien to them and without the help of adults. In this setting however, Higson does what many authors fail to; give them the credit they’re so often denied. Yes, they’re young; yes, this is a terrifying world with none of the rules they’re used to; but that doesn’t make them helpless or hopeless. In fact, without the more jaded view of the world seen through the eyes of adults, ‘The Dead’ fills the reader with a strange sense of hope; that perhaps these children CAN and WILL survive, despite their lack of experience or knowledge of the world around them.

As with ‘The Enemy’, Higson isn’t afraid to kill off key characters in ‘The Dead’. Some are more shocking than others, but the message is the same whoever it is; the group realise it could be any one of them, so no death is overlooked or dismissed as unimportant. There is less time spent on petty squabbles and plays for power – as there no doubt would be if these were adults – and more spent on working out strategies, like how to get more food, what to use as weapons and where the safest places are to hide out from the sickos.

The end of ‘The Dead’ brings things nicely full circle, with a small overlap with a member from the original ‘The Enemy’ group. And as much as I didn’t enjoy ‘The Dead’ quite as much, I’m still intrigued to see where Higson will take the series and the children who inhabit it. I have a feeling we’ve not seen the last of the two groups and it will be interesting to see how and when they finally meet.
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on 4 January 2018
I love this books plot and overall concept... But, I really don't like how it is put across.
World over-run by zombies - sounds amazing to me! So, I was really looking forward to reading 'The Enemy' after picking it up at a bookshop: along with its second installment 'The Dead' (got it because I though I wouldn't be able to wait to start reading the second novel).
Unfortunately, the way in which this novel is written just annoys me to no end.
Yes, I get that Higson writes his dialogue from the POV of the -14 age bracket, but this simplicity of language also seems to appear outside of the dialogue. I forced myself to read half way and try again a few months later, but, my life, the LANGUAGE - or lack thereof. I just can't get past it!
Reading all the reviews makes me feel like I've read another novel, form another author, in another time period, on another planet... It's crazy.

So, from a person who loves reading YA fiction, this is for the YOUNG adults out there. For those who don't like big words and complex sentences, which form amazing things... like medium/long paragraphs!

But great concept.
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on 16 September 2011
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.
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on 19 May 2017
Great read!
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on 21 May 2016
Im 12, nearly 13 and I saw an ad for this book and tried the teaser for it, and one thing that made me read the whole series, start to finish was the mixture of thrill, action, suspense and drama.

It buillds an image of what the world would be like if something like this happend, and what children would do during these sort of events, how they would form different clans, how they would fight the enemy or "sickos" as they call them. Its an exciting and detailed series, and I really find it addicting to read. The author makes lots of characters, who each play an enourmous role in the seres. I would reccomend you read the entire action packed series of "The Enemy". 5 out of 5 stars.
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