Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

From a book that had a very self-conscious "this-is-a-children's-book" vibe to it, to one which would have scared the living daylights out of me if I'd read it as a child. To be completely honest, I am still pretty scared, and I finished reading it over an hour ago. And I am 33 and in a room with my husband, who I keep sneakily looking at to make sure he is not showing any symptoms of disease.

The Enemy is completely brilliant. The premise is brilliant. It's set in central London and follows the fortunes of young people who have been left to fend for themselves. A horrific disease has struck everyone over the age of 14. Most of the adults have died, but others are still alive, but reduced to child-slaying animals, stumbling around killing and eating any children they can get their hands on. There are many groups of children who are doing their best to survive in the increasingly dangerous surroundings of London.

Over the course of the story we are introduced to several groups of children, but we begin with those that live in Waitrose on Holloway Road. A good choice of hide-out. I think I would have gone for Fortum and Mason, however. Aim high.

The characters are skillfully drawn and the action is electric and often shocking. There is some blood and gore, but there are also moments of phsychological terror. Not for the faint hearted. Although I was scared when I read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at the age of 22, so I may not be the best guide.

There are several more in the series, and I will definitely be reading them. It is most emphatically not the sort of book that I would normally read, but I will have no qualms in recommending this to my students. Mainly because it is a brilliant story, but also because it will provide them with survival tips should this disease actually come to pass, and instead of providing them with pastoral and literacy support at school, I suddenly start to attempt to bundle them into a sack and take them back to my filthy den to cook. No harm in being prepared for all eventualities.

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