Sunday, October 9, 2011

BookNotes: The Enemy and The Dead by Charlie Higson

I read the second book first, something I seem to be doing lately.

The Dead envisions a London that has either killed or turned into child-eating zombie like creatures everyone 16 and over. It starts in a boys school where the plague is new (just a week or so) and kids are fighting off the teachers who have slowly turned from protectors to raging slavering beasts.

The kids decide they have to try to get away from the school, hoping things are better in either the countryside or in London proper. The group splits, and is soon ravaged by younger zombies who overpower them and decimate their numbers. They fall back together under the protection of Greg, a former butcher with a young son who seems to have avoided the plague and who offers them a place on his bus, headed to London.

I thought the wide cast of characters were well drawn, and as they were inevitably picked off one by one, you really felt their loss. No character, no matter how likeable, was safe from being dispatched in a quick or spectacular manner.

If you like post apocalyptic novels, survival stories, or just adventures, you can't go wrong with this page turner.

The first book, The Enemy, which I read next, is a bit slower, characters not as well developed (in fact I had a hard time deciding who I liked and was rooting for quite a ways into the book).

The Enemy takes place about a year after the beginning of the zombie plague. Kids have holed up in a supermarket which they have reinforced, but they must go in an ever widening arc to scavenge for supplies.

On one of these runs they are ambushed by grownups, which is new behavior for these lumbering beasts. Their ranks are decimated, and their leader, who is the most engaging character, is fatally wounded. I think that Arran's getting taken out so soon before all the characters were established was a real flaw in this one. It just left a gap in leadership and someone to root for too early on. Hmmmm.

There are a few characters in The Enemy who are further developed in The Dead. There is a new book out in England in the series called The Fear which we won't get here for, what, a year? I hate those delays.

I suspect and hope in book three that many of our characters will come together in a nice climactic battle. I hate waiting so long for a sequel.

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