Synopsis from Goodreads.
They’ll chase you. They’ll rip you open. They’ll feed on you…When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician – every adult – fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. 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?
Can you enjoy a book where pretty much every one of your favourite characters gets chomped on by a zombie?
I’m going to say yes because this book was brilliant.
This book was genuinely creepy and I like to think I’m made of strong stuff. Unless clowns are involved… and boats….and, like, those huge Australian bugs that Mandee and Reynje take so much pleasure in sending me pictures of when I’m expecting wallabies and koala bears.
OK, actually…. Maybe I am a bit of a wuss.
But one thing that struck me about this book was how atmospheric it was. I know I made a similar observation in my review for This is Not a Test, but one of the first scenes (the bit in the swimming pool, for those who have read it!) was like the beginning of a horror film.
A group of kids are inside somewhere and it’s quiet. Too quiet. But they’re safe in here. Aren’t they? You get an idea of the individual characters. You have the leader, the cocky one, the cheeky two and the one who keeps looking over his shoulder. Better safe than sorry, right? And they’re all talking and sniping at each other and behaving like boys do. And none of them have noticed that something is wrong. Really wrong.
And that’s where I’ll stop.
I can’t describe it because I’m not a writer like Mr Higson. I mean, you’ve read my other reviews, right?
“He’d always been scared of the dark. His mum had told him not to worry.
‘If you can’t see the monsters, they can’t see you.’
Back then there had been no monsters. Not real ones. Only imaginary.
[FYI: That quote is from my favourite scenes in the book. SO GOOD.]
And also, it’s bloody disgusting. It’s really gruesome. We’re talking Yancey’s The Monstrumologist gruesome.
“The skin blackened, shrivelled and split, the overripe flesh inside squeezing out. His insides had turned to mush… Arran prodded the body with his trainer. As he did so the skin popped, a stream of pus oozed out followed by a bright pink blossom of soft fat.”
I mean, that’s disgusting, right? That’s so vile. That’s absolutely horrendous.
It’s also AWESOME. And that’s not even the best bit. That comes later and eeerrrrrrgrgrghhhh it’s brilliant.
Mr Higson certainly knows how to write a story. The twists and turns were perfectly executed and, even though if you’ve ever read a zombook or a zombie film you may guess some of the twists and turns, it didn’t bother me at all. There were certain scenes and certain things that happened that had me completely thrown. Mr Higson really took the phrase ‘Kill your darlings’ to a whole new level. Or at least ‘Kill Jo’s darlings’… so, yeah, THANKS FOR THE ANGST, CHARLIE HIGSON.
I think without Mr Higson’s attention to detail with the characters this could have fallen into the ‘Oh… a zombie book? Now that’s original!’ trap. I have lots and lots of notes about my favourite characters in this book but seeing as I’ve told you that most of ‘em turn into Zombie Snacks (similar to Scooby Snacks, by the way, but more…um, living) I’m not going to share my specific thoughts and feelings. I kind of loved every single one of them. Their back stories, their dialogue, their reactions to what was happening around them, how strong they were when…things….happened. Love love love.
But even though I loved a lot of the characters individually, I adored how they worked as a group. They all had their roles to play without it being cliché and box-ticky. Yeah we have the smart one and yeah we have the one who wants to go zombie hunting, and the one who isn’t sure what to do but everyone’s looking at for help? Yep, they’re there too. But it felt fresh and exciting and by the time I got to the end, I really felt like I was part of their group.
Though, that’s probably wishful thinking because I would want to be part of their group. Because, if/when a zombie apocalypse happens, I’m going to be used for bait. I know this and I’ve accepted this. But maybe if I stuck with the kids in this book I’d last a little bit longer before they dress me in a bright colour and shove me out into the street before locking the door behind me.
You know that feeling when you read the first book of a series (although, from my understanding, they don’t follow on? Just the same universe, though I may just be telling you vicious lies) and you get all excited and giddy
and you look at every grown up thinking they might eat you? I have it with this book and I’m really excited to read more because if that ending is anything to go on, a lot more scary brilliance this way comes.
Oh and also; zombie monkeys.
What was that? You want me to elaborate?
If the phrase ‘zombie monkeys’ doesn’t make you immediately add this to your reading list, I don’t think anything will.
Anyway, I’m gonna have to go because there’s this really creepy bloke just standing outside my house. I mean… what kind of grown man wears a St George’s flag t-shirt and oh my god, I don’t believe it! He’s just got his friends to come too and… nope, I’m not having this. Hold that thought… I’ll be right back.