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The Dead by Charlie Higson

The Dead

by Charlie Higson

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This novel presents a gritty and violent image of London in ruins. Higson excels at physical horror, illustrating the horror of the kids' situation through their isolation, starvation and grotesque sickos that savagely attack them on site. If you like your horror fast paced and gory, this is certainly the novel for you. It can even be enjoyed without having read The Enemy as it's technically its prequel.

Unfortunately for me, the story was very disappointing. The Dead failed to advance the story beyond what had already been presented in The Enemy and therefore felt more like a continuation of this story than an advance in the overall plot. The cast was also almost entirely new and so we did not find out anything more about those that we had been introduced to in the first book.

In terms of characterisation, I did really like the principle three characters. Ed, Jack and Bam all showed depth of character and development. The subplot where they look for Jack's house is one of the strongest point in the story and shows that the relationship between lads can be emotional and complex - something that is often sorely lacking in literature aimed at teenage boys.

Unfortunately, this depth did not stretch to the other cast. Everyone else within the story were very flat and unmemorable, serving mainly as cannon fodder. The female characters were especially bad as they were presented as being shrinking violets or loud mouthed Essex girls. As the climax of the story largely focused on Ed, we also did not discover what happened to many of the characters. I expect that they may reappear in later stories but it was a shame that they essentially walked out of this one.

In conclusion, I feel that this novel will only really appear to fans of violent horror and/or the first book in the series. Anyone else could probably give it a miss ( )
  ArkhamReviews | Sep 30, 2014 |
Couldn't drag myself to the end of this one. Really popular with the students but it was all too dour and repetitive for me. Battle after head exploding battle with the "mothers" and the "fathers" ie the zombies. A smattering of suspense kept me going . . . just.

I will probably go back to it if only to see what happens at the palace. ( )
  michelegorton | May 27, 2014 |
Okay I umm well let me think. Yes I loved this book and the series so far. But I do not like the order in which they are written. I have read many reviews and such and they all say stick with it it all comes together at the end but it's distracting. To read the first one then to start the second one only to find out it's beginning begins five days or something like that BEFORE the 1st ones ending. Are you lost yet trying to understand what I'm saying. Well, that's how I felt reading this book. I hear the next one has the same five days before confusion.My advice read the series as it's a good one but do not space reading them. ( )
  justablondemoment | Jul 20, 2012 |
A gruesomely violent zombie story, The Dead by Charlie Higson is the second in his Enemy Series where all people over the age of fifteen get sick. Some people die, but many are turned into flesh eating zombie like creatures that prey upon the children.

This book starts a year earlier than the previous one. The time is the early days of the zombie plague, the opening is set in a boys school in the countryside. The children realize they must band together to be safe and they decide to try for London, hoping to find other survivors. Again, the author rolls the dice randomly and you never know who is going to make it and who is going to die. After many adventures, the survivors hole up in the Tower of London, but realize that even though they are relatively safe here, they must go out and search for supplies and other survivors in order to establish themselves and expand their society.

Although this book did a very good job of keeping me enthralled, it didn't have quite the punch that the first book did. Even so, I will be looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy which will hopefully reunite all the different groups of children and supply some kind of hope for these survivors. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jan 2, 2012 |
The Dead by Charlie Higson is a prequel to The Enemy. The books can be read in any order. If you aren't familiar with the series, it is set in a post-apocalyptic England, after a virus caused everyone over 16 to change into crazed, hungry, single-minded adult creatures ("Mothers" and "Fathers") who only want one thing: to eat kids.

The Dead is set in the immediate aftermath of the virus (a year before the events in The Enemy), and tells the story of a group of children who are at a boarding school when the virus breaks out. They realize that the school is not safe, and that they need to find a place which is not only safer but with food and water to support them. They have to decide where to go; some of the group want to seek refuge in the countryside, while others (lead by Matt, who believes that God is speaking to him through Revelations and telling him to go to London). Their decision is made for them when they are rescued by another group on a bus, and friends Jack and Ed are determined to lead them to the relative safety of London.

This is a different group of kids than in The Enemy, so those hoping for an update on characters from The Enemy will be disappointed. However the book is fascinating in its own right, and I would be happy to read a million stories about the children left to fend for themselves in this harsh world. It is bittersweet to see them form little family-units and try to help and protect each other, and especially sad that they often need to protect themselves from other kids.

Like The Enemy, The Dead doesn't pull any punches, with central characters dying, disappearing, or being wounded, which makes the story heart-breaking. But the strength and character of the kids as they rally around each other and fight to survive makes it worth the heart ache. Excellent, thought-provoking series which evokes "Lord of the Flies" along with "The Road". Highly recommended. I'm impatiently waiting for the third book in the series to be released in the US. ( )
  cmwilson101 | Oct 2, 2011 |
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Book description
The disease only affects people sixteen or older. It starts with the symptoms of a cold. Then the skin begins to itch, and spots appear--spots that soon turn into pus-filled boils. But the worst part is the headache, the inner voices that tell you that you need to eat them . . . the young ones.

When the Disaster strikes, the world turns upside down for Ed, Jack, Bam and the other students at Rowhurst School. The parents and older siblings they left back at home are dead--or worse. Once the teachers go on the attack, the kids know it's time to escape and make their way to the city. It's got to be better in London . . .or will it be worse?

Higson's terrifying, utterly compelling prequel to The Enemy introduces an all-new cast of characters and sets the stage for a dramatic third book in the series.
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As a disease turns everyone over sixteen into brainless, decomposing, flesh-eating creatures, a group of teenagers head to London. Ed, Jack, Bam and the other students at Rowhurst School learn more about the Disaster, and meet an adult who seems to be immune to the disease.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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