Lord of the Flies meets 28 Days Later in this disturbing postapocalyptic adventure. Higson (the Young Bond series) presents a kids-only world with shades of Michael Grant's Gone books, though in this case, a disease has turned everyone over the age of 16 into mindless, flesh-eating nightmares, terrorizing and devouring those unaffected. Packs of resourceful kids have holed up in supermarkets, constructing defenses, foraging for supplies, and fighting off feral “grown-ups.” For the group sheltering in a Waitrose store, it's a ceaseless battle for survival, where even the simplest expedition can prove fatal. When the possibility of a haven arrives, the Waitrose kids band with new allies as they make a hazardous trek across London to the promised land: Buckingham Palace. Alternately bleak and defiant, this splatterfest doesn't pull any punches (“The skin blackened, shriveled and split, the overripe flesh inside squeezing out.... This was what happened if any grown-up lived long enough to let the disease run its full course”) nor is any character safe. It's up to a sequel to sort out some plot threads, but this is a solid start. Ages 12-up. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—In this dystopian thriller set in London, everyone over 16 is dead or diseased, and youngsters are in constant danger of being eaten by boil-infested grown-ups who roam the streets like zombies looking for children to kill. Led by teens Arran and Maxie and armed with makeshift weapons, a group of kids sets out from the uncertain safety of an abandoned supermarket to travel to Buckingham Palace, where a young messenger promises that food, medicine, and a haven are available. Along the way, Arran is killed. One youngster selfishly decides to stay behind with a secret stash of food and is there to tell Small Sam, who had been abducted and feared dead, where the others (including his sister) have headed. Sam's quest to find Ella parallels the story of the large group with similar run-ins with marauding adults and mistrustful children who scavenge about the city. The bleak setting is filled with decay, danger, and puss-oozing parents who have turned into butchers. On arriving at Buckingham Palace, Maxie decides that David, the teen leader there, is too tyrannical, and she must regain control of her brood and convince them to leave for a new location. The last chapter squelches any real hope for the future and will leave readers somewhat haunted and chilled about the doomsday scenario. Descriptive and suspenseful, this title is similar to but less imaginative than Patrick Ness's "Chaos Walking" series (Candlewick).—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Nearly two years ago, the world changed; everyone over 16 became horrifically ill and began to crave fresh meat. As supplies are exhausted and the vicious grown-ups grow braver, Arrum and Maxie, along with their band of refugees, must embark on a perilous journey across London to reach the safest spot in the city: Buckingham Palace. Multiple narrators both propel the action and provide an abundance of danger-wrought scenarios. Such division weakens character development somewhat, however, leaving the lead teens rather thin in personality-but this story's all about plot, anyway. Higson does an admirable job developing the survivalist theme; the addition of the crazed adults to the subgenre raises this above similar works, such as Michael Grant's Gone series. Avoiding many English colloquialisms, the text will be easily understood by an American audience, and readers unfamiliar with London's geography will appreciate the endpaper maps. Intrigue, betrayal and the basic heroic-teens-against-marauding-adults conflict give this work a high place on any beach-reading list. (Suspense. YA)
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE ENEMY"
The Enemy grabs you by the throat . . . and bites off your ear. It's kids versus zombies and no one is playing nice. The actionand boy, is there actiontakes us through a London transformed by the unexplained illness that has turned every adult into a shuffling, drooling, kid-crunching machine. Bonus: zombie royals. Sheer fun."Michael Grant, author of the Gone series
PRAISE FOR THE FEAR"
The third book in Higson's terrifying zombie series will continue to enthrall horror fans."VOYA
PRAISE FOR THE DEAD"
. . . Higson delivers an action-packed summer read."Kirkus
PRAISE FOR THE ENEMY"
...the action is of the first order-Higson writes with a firestorm velocity that inspires to the sweeping reach of Stephen King's The Stand."ALA Booklist