Charlie Higson, The Enemy

I'm not quite at the point where someone's going to have to bring me warm milk and watch over me as I sleep, but Charlie Higson's The Enemy is seriously scary. I avoid parties, because they're fine without me, and a popular-genre-with-a-twist novel usually deserves some mockery, but this The Enemy series? Yikes. Also, whoa.

Our scene is London, round about now: 18 months ago, everyone over fourteen years of age developed some kind of disease that turned them into zombies. No one knows what happened, though there are lots of theories, and all we see are isolated groups of kids with no future, no plan, no real defenses. They're Lord of the Flies hard on each other, but internal conflicts are a long way from being important enough to matter in this reality.

The kids still struggling to survive call the zombies "mothers" and "fathers" (so awful!), and the kids' lives are entirely consumed by avoiding or killing the grownups. The killing is gory and detailed and gruesome, plus nearly constant, but the grownups are so grotesque and blood-thirsty that you don't really mind. Well, sure, problems arise when you remember that you're a grownup yourself, but come on, they're zombies, so.... And when the kids die, and lots of kids do die, there's far less detail: this may be what Higson means in his interviews when he says it's tough to get the gore balance right.

The Enemy is a popular-genre-with-a-twist novel, and like I said, this sort of thing deserves mockery, but I just couldn't step reading. If you start, and if you're okay reading about massive disasters and violence against children and appalling darkness, you're not going to stop reading this novel. I don't know that I need to read the next one, unless somebody tells me it's somehow life-changing, but I don't see that happening. Good stuff, but so many books, you know?

Incidentally, there's a pretty great YouTube teaser video, noted in the book as perhaps the first clue that something was happening in the world: check it, if you dare! It's meant to be taken as real, inside the novel's world.


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