Synopsis from Goodreads.
A terrible disease is striking everyone over the age of fourteen. Death walks the streets.Nowhere is safe. Maxie, Blue and the rest of the Holloway crew aren’t the only kids trying to escape the ferocious adults who prey on them.Jack and Ed are best friends, but their battle to stay alive tests their friendship to the limit as they go on the run with a mismatched group of other kids, nerds, fighters, misfits. And one adult. Greg, a butcher, who claims he’s immune to the disease. They must work together if they want to make it in this terrifying new world. But as a fresh disaster threatens to overwhelm London, they realize they won’t all survive.
Right, so I’m not entirely sure what to do with this review. Writing reviews for series kind of makes me anxious because on one hand I want to talk about it and entice you and hypnotise you with my words to make you want to read this book. Because you should read it as it’s fantastic.
But on the other hand I am very aware that the majority of the people who will be reading this review won’t have read The Enemy (my review), the first book in this series. Now, I’m not saying this is because I am unique and original and like to read against the grain (can even you do that?). But, I have snooped on Goodreads and in blog land and, in comparison to other YA books, there are so few reviews for this series!
Which is sad for two reasons: One, this is a series and an author that deserves your time. I’m talking to you, dear reader, who grumbles that all YA books are getting samey and boring and there all safe and blaaaah. And also two, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ALL ABOUT IT.
Of course, there are people who have read this book and they will be who I choose to be in my team first in the inevitable YA Readers vs Zombies that will happen… eventually. Especially Erin who got me involved in this series.
So I have to kind of make you want to read this book (but first The Enemy) at the same time as telling you absolutely zilch about it.
This is why I usually write letters or poems about series. I take the easy way out. But not with this book because there’s something about Mr Higson’s books that makes me want to be brave and fearless and… um… other things. And seeing as I’m not going to daub myself in blood and launch myself into a gaggle* of zombies armed only with a cricket bat and a Cornetto, you’re getting a review.
Let’s do this.
I liked this book and I liked it a lot. I am very aware that in my review of The Enemy I used the other ‘l’ word. I did love The Enemy and I liked this one. The story is just as great; fast-paced, exciting and full of twists and turns that genuinely surprised me.
I guess the main ‘problem’ (and it wasn’t even a problem) was the fact that I just didn’t connect with the characters as much as I did with Maxie, Blue, Arran and the rest of the gang. I’m not sure whether it was because this book was more about the story and the physical journey as opposed to the connections and the relationships between the characters in the first book. I guess in that way, because I felt a little bit removed from the characters, I found this book a lot less creepy. The first book made me shiver at the thought of children running around London (and, presumably the rest of the country) trying to fight adults who want to eat their brains. Braaaains. I felt their hearts pound as they peered through the glum darkness after they heard a soft scuffle, I felt their helplessness when the truth that they were never going to see their parents again finally sunk in and I felt their horror when they saw their friends die in horrible, vile ways.
However, that’s not to say that this book lacked emotion. One scene in particular (Floppy Dog) was so moving, I had to blink a bit fast because…. Floppy Dog. I just think it lacked the heart-wrenching ‘oomph’ the first book had.
And also, another tiny problem, seeing as I learnt pretty early on that Mr Higson likes to SLAUGHTER his character, I was kind of expecting it in this book. So when the characters that I had become attached to got cornered by a snarling pack of Mothers and Fathers or, actually, if they got a bit of a sniffle, it wasn’t difficult to guess that their future wasn’t bright… or long.
ALSO and this is a
for The Enemy and The Dead: I found it quite interesting that both Arran and Jack, the two main heroes, both die because of their fellow kid… not because of a chomping zombie. Intriguing, no?
end of proper spoiler.
I actually preferred the story to the The Dead, though. Maybe it’s because I knew that this book was a prequel and I knew how it would end (SAM!) but I found that it had a lot more structure to it and you could actually see why they were going to these places as opposed to just accepting that they were.
A large part of that was because of the setting. You probably know I am a huge geek. I love museums and I love history. So throw in some zombies at the Tower of London and The Imperial War Museum and I am one happy lady. Also… GENIUS. In all these films where the characters fall over themselves to find the nearest shopping centre and supermarket but I want to be in the gang that goes to either a place that was built for keeping the enemy out (or… in duh duh duhhhh) or a building full of weapons. Plus, there is bound to be a Pret a Manger or a Costa Coffee nearby that you could plunder.
There’s one of those bad boys on every corner in London.
Also, a bit randomly, I have mentally cast Christopher Eccleston as Greg. Because I always seem to associate him with turning nasty when zombies are about.
I already have the third book, The Fear, lined up so I can read it before The Sacrifice comes out at the end of this month. And then, of course, the films.
OK, I’m joking, there aren’t any films of this series. And that thought alone is making me as sad as Floppy Dog.