Only children under fourteen remain, and they’re fighting to survive.
Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city – down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground – the grown-ups lie in wait.
But can they make it there – alive?
A strange illness has struck Britain, affecting everyone over the age of 15. The lucky ones died. The unlucky ones were driven mad and left with a terrible hunger for human flesh.
Maxie and Arran lead a group of kids who’ve set up camp in the Waitrose in Camden but their food supplies have gone and they must send foraging parties to look for supplies elsewhere. Their main rivals are a group of kids who have set up a similar camp in Morrisons supermarket led by Blue. Competition for resources is fierce. Worse, the grown-ups are getting organised – their attacks on the camps are more co-ordinated and they’re setting up ambushes for unwary stray kids.
One day a strange boy arrives – Jester – bringing news of a commune of kids living in Buckingham Palace – kids who grow their own food and have their own medical supplies. Aware that their situation is untenable, Arran and Maxie take the decision to move their group to the commune. THE ENEMY follows their merger with the Morrisons crew, their journey across London, the alliances they make and what they find at Buckingham Palace. This story intermingles it with the story of Small Sam (a boy taken by the grown-ups but who manages to escape and is engaged in his own, equally dangerous journey, to rejoin the group) and of Callum (a boy who decides to stay behind).
The first in a series, THE ENEMY is a terrific story about survival and kids managing on their own in a confused situation with no information. There is a lot of gore and violence in the story together with some swear words so it’s not for sensitive readers. Higson’s also unafraid to kill characters who you are fond of, sometimes in wrenching circumstances.
The wide cast of characters means it’s sometimes confusing to work out who’s who – particularly with side characters - so I cared about some characters less. A cast list would have been useful (although the book comes with maps and an interview with the author, which are a lot of fun). Sam is undoubtedly the hero of the story for me – it’s easy to root him on in his journey to be reunited with his younger sister, Ella, and he really develops as his journey continues.
All in all this is an exhilarating, scary read and one that budding zombie fans will love.
This is 28 DAYS LATER for a young teen audience and is a must for budding zombie or horror fans. It’s a thrilling, action-packed read with a lot of violence and gore and an unsentimental attitude to its characters (many of whom get whacked). It’s not a book for sensitive readers and parents should be aware of the language (no f-word, but it gets close) but I’d have no hesitation in recommending it to all readers from age 13 up.