Hands down, Charlie Higson’s The Enemy is one of the best YA books I’ve ever read. It also happens to be one of the best horror books I’ve read as well. In something of a cross between Lord of the Flies and 28 Days Later, The Enemy finds modern-day London ravaged by a terrible plague that has killed off everyone over the age of 14. The handful of adults that have survived the plague are shambling cannibals out to devour the children who struggle to stay alive.
Perhaps best know for his Young Bond series chronicling the adventures of James Bond before he becomes a secret agent, Higson has already proven himself to be a talented writer. But nothing in the Young Bond series can compare to The Enemy, which is Higson at the top of his game. Fast paced, violent and surprisingly grim, The Enemy isn’t for young readers or the squeamish. But if you are a fan of horror, especially zombie-fied horror reminiscent of movies like 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead, then you should enjoy The Enemy.
Kicking off more than a year before the events in The Enemy, The Dead starts several months after a mysterious disease has killed off everyone over the age of fourteen. Those that haven’t been killed have been turned into hideous diseased cannibals that hunt and devour the children who have not been affected by the disease, but are still struggling to survive in a decimated world. The Dead follows a small group of survivors as they forage for food and look for a safe place to stay. But as anyone who has read The Enemy knows, Higson does not play favorites with his characters—no one is safe in this brutally violent world.
Although I was initially disappointed that Higson didn’t pick up where he left off and continue the tale of the survivors in The Enemy, all was quickly forgiven. The Dead is as compelling and fast-paced as The Enemy, and the characters are just as interesting. If you are a fan of the zombie horror genre, you’ll love Higson’s books. His storytelling and characters are far more compelling than film series like Resident Evil or comics like The Walking Dead. In fact, with the exception of George Romero’s earlier films, no other zombie series, regardless of medium, is better than what Higson has put together in his first to books of this series.
WARNING: The Enemy and The Deadare both very violent. I would only recommend these books to older, more mature teens, or adults who love a good horror book.