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Nessa's Thoughts

Just a British girl who reads a bit too much.

Currently reading

The Dead Zone
Stephen King
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Jean-Dominique Bauby
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady
Samuel Richardson, Angus Ross
Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
Piper Kerman
The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith
The Dead (The Enemy #2) - Charlie Higson Charlie Higson is a pretty amazing writer, you guys. He may be writing for teenage boys who love computer games and want constant action in their books, but man, do I love his writing. It's so wonderfully short and snappy, and... oh, man. He's really good at characterisation too and had me damn near on the verge of tears or gasping at my copy at certain parts. Excuse me for a moment while I go flap my hands and squee.I'll try my best to review without getting too excited, but basically, the ending of this book made me go just as loopy with fangirl fervour as when I finished Monsters of Men. (Minus the flood of tears, though.) And that's a very high compliment.The Dead is the second book in Charlie Higson's The Enemy series, about kids and teenagers trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic London, with every adult or older teen having been turned into a zombie. Not green, wide-eyed infected people who shuffle around the city going: “Braiiiins.” No, think the zombies from Left 4 Dead. If you accidentally bump into a car and set off its alarm, you are going to get killed in a matter of moments, my friend. The zombies in The Enemy are actually, as it is revealed in this book, super-efficient hunters. The disease itself (shown to us by one of the more likeable older kids actually succumbing to the sickness, sob sob) makes it painful for the zombies to be out in daylight, and makes them gradually lose every memory and every bit of individuality until they are just working off their instincts, hunting, trapping, and killing their prey. Their symptoms, however seem to recede when they eat the flesh of the uninfected, in this case, the children who are desperately trying to survive.The book begins at an all-boys boarding school, in which the teachers have become infected and are trying to pick off the students. Some of the boys are swept up in a religious fervour, believing that the disease is an act of God, and creating their own little cult, refusing to be swayed by logic and demanding to be taken to the places promised to them by 'the Lamb'. The majority of the boys, however, think it would be much more sensible to go out into the countryside and establish a farming commune. Unfortunately, they are told by an uninfected coach driver that everyone tried to do that when the virus hit. "Everyone's had the same idea as you - go back to nature, live off the land. They've watched too many Bear Grylls programmes on telly. And what happens? They've all wound up in the great outdoors with everyone else. City types. Useless. Didn't know one end of a cow from another. It's all right one bloke and his dog living off the land - not millions of blokes, and their wives and kids and hamsters."Unfortunately, all adults eventually get infected by this illness, and... oh man, there is no creepier scene than when Greg, the coach driver, hugs his son close to him at night as the sickness is starting to really get to him, and kills Liam by constricting his breathing.From then on, it's the kids trying to get to safety, or talking about how they're going to survive, and... oh God, man. Charlie Higson is so good at making you care for these kids. They're funny, a little bit naïve, and most of all, everyone is really likeable. Even when they do make stupid mistakes, they are just kids, so you can't really blame them too much for not thinking beyond the simplest option to a dilemma. Still, it works really well for those nail-biting moments. I almost dropped my iPad on the bus floor at one particularly shocking revelation, so yeah. It's that good.Another thing Charlie Higson is really good at? Grossing you out. I think the man should take up a side job as a dietitian or something. Normally, I read with something to eat by my side. I can't do that with these books. My stomach just churns too much. And this coming from a girl who's normally quite non-plussed by gore!Greg belched, causing a big brown bubble to form between his lips. It burst, filling the coach with a foul stench. He wiped his mouth and then spat a gobbet of rubbery mucus against a window, where it slowly crawled down like a fat yellow slug. (40%)He rubbed his neck. It was ringed with boils, like a horrible shiny yellow scarf. (59%)...A cascade of dead bodies tumbled down from one of the piles directly into their path.They had no choice. They would have to climb over them.They tried, but it was like wading through deep mud. The bodies were so soft they gave way beneath their feet and the boys found themselves treading in shredded skin and innards. (64%)His body felt hot and damp. His breath came straight from an abattoir. He was breathing through his mouth, and pink-flecked saliva foamed at his lips. (72%)This book was absolutely excellent. Paced perfectly, with wonderful characters who will have you screaming: “IT'S A TRAP!” like Admiral Ackbar, virtually no slowing-down of the plot, and some great psychological questions to ponder over, The Dead deserves nothing less than 5/5 stars.(This review is also available on my blog: http://book-wyrm.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-dead-enemy-2-by-charlie-higson.html)