I tend to get a bit squee-y and excited about Charlie Higson’s The Enemy series, I literally started reading the series in the queue in Tesco’s on a very cold camping trip a couple of years ago, when I bought the book on a whim (well not quite a whim, as I loved Higson’s Young Bond books, so it was inevitable I was going to read these at some point) and anyway, from those very first pages, in the queue in Tescos, I was gripped and three books later, I am even more gripped.
For those that don’t know The Enemy series, what are you missing? Well, The Enemy series is a series of six children’s books (number three has just been published) about what happens when a disease sweeps the country either killing you or worse turning you into a zombie if you’re fifteen or over. And although it is a children’s series, well obviously it’s not for six year olds but I’d say anyone from 12 onwards (and that includes adults), who likes intelligent, graphic, action stories with zombies as an added bonus, would love these.
The series was originally, apparently meant to be a three parter but the books have been pretty successful and are now a series of six, consequently Higson has been allowed to develop the world he has created, of a disease ravaged London where the children fight to survive, to an even greater depth. Higson introduces us to separate groups of children across London and chronicles how they interact with each other as they struggle to rebuild some form of life. The books aren’t in a strict chronological order, with Higson going back in time a little at the start of books 2 and 3, so that we see common events running throughout the series from different characters perspectives. On reading books 2 and 3, I was struck both times with the desire to go and reread the earlier books first, so that I could remember every detail of the complex events more easily, but I’ve always been too eager to get to the new stuff straight away, so delved straight in and Higson doesn’t make it too hard to remember what has happened. And although you could start the series with book 3, I highly recommend you start from book 1, so that you get the full thrill of the ride. I definitely plan though, to read all six books back to back once the series is complete, it’ll be fun going back through the events in the older books knowing what was happening at the same time to the characters introduced in the newer books.
As for The Fear itself, if I were to rate it against The Enemy (book 1) and The Dead (book 2), I don’t think it’s quite as good as The Enemy because that book is extremely hard to beat (oooh the final scene in the supermarket, oh and the scene in the swimming pool . . . ) but The Fear is better than The Dead because, well, you can’t beat the initial tension of The Enemy, which felt a little flatter in The Dead but it ramps up again in The Enemy as the relations between the various settlements of children becomes more and more complex and the sickos (the zombies) more and more dangerous.
In The Fear we learn more about the Tower of London crew and the Buckingham Palace crew and finally get to see inside the Natural History Museum. We also meet up again briefly with the Waitrose and Morrisons crews. We watch the characters develop and grow and die (yes, nobody is safe in this series), as they go through everything from depression, terror, love and revenge. I can not recommend this enough. Argh, it’ll be what, a year till the next one?
- The Fear by Charlie Higson – review (guardian.co.uk)
- My thoughts on The Enemy, here, here and here.
- My review of The Dead.