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The Enemy

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Charlie Higson's The Enemy is the first in a jaw-dropping zombie horror series for teens. Everyone over the age of fourteen has succumbed to a deadly zombie virus and now the kids must keep themselves alive. When the sickness came, every parent, police officer, politician - every adult fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they're fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there - alive? 'Higson has got the balance of blood and gore just right' Daily Mirror 'Clever...fast-paced...inventive' Guardian Charlie Higson is the author of the bestselling Young Bond series of novels for young readers, including Silverfin and Double or Die, and the spine-tingling, teen zombie-horror series The Enemy. Can't wait for the next instalment? This edition contains the first chapter of the mind-blowing first chapter of the second book The Dead. Check out www.the-enemy.co.uk for more blood, more zombies and more terror.

406 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 2009

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About the author

Charlie Higson

124 books1,428 followers
Higson was educated at Sevenoaks School and at the University of East Anglia (where his brother has taught since 1986 and is now a professor of film studies) where he met Paul Whitehouse, David Cummings and Terry Edwards. Higson, Cummings and Edwards formed the band The Higsons of which Higson was the lead singer from 1980 to 1986. They released two singles on the Specials' 2-Tone label. Higson then became a plasterer before he turned to writing for Harry Enfield with Paul Whitehouse and performing comedy. He came to public attention as one of the main writers and performers of the BBC Two sketch show The Fast Show (1994-2000). He worked with Whitehouse on the radio comedy Down the Line and is to work with him again on a television project, designed to be a spoof of celebrity travel programmes.[1:]

He worked as producer, writer, director and occasional guest star on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) from 2000 to 2001. Subsequent television work has included writing and starring in BBC Three's Fast Show spin-off sitcom Swiss Toni. He is currently starring in Tittybangbang series 3 on BBC Three and has appeared as a panellist on QI.

He published four novels through the early to mid 1990s which take a slightly dystopian look at everyday life and have a considerably more adult tone than his other work, with characters on the margins of society finding themselves spiraling out of control, leading him to be described by Time Out as 'The missing link between Dick Emery and Brett Easton Ellis' [2:]

In 2004, it was announced that Higson would pen a series of James Bond novels, aimed at younger readers and concentrating on the character's school-days at Eton. Higson was himself educated at Sevenoaks School where he was a contemporary of Jonathan Evans, current Director General of MI5. The first novel, SilverFin, was released on 3 March 2005 in the UK and on 27 April 2005 in the U.S. A second novel, Blood Fever, was released on 5 January 2006 in the UK and 1 June in the U.S. The third novel, Double or Die, was published on 4 January 2007 having had its title announced the day before. The next, Hurricane Gold, came out in hardcover in the UK in September 2007.[3:]In this year he also made a debut performance on the panel show QI. His final Young Bond novel, By Royal Command, was released in hardcover in the UK on the 3 September 2008.[4:]

Charlie has signed a deal to pen a new series of children's books for Puffin. According to the author, "They are going to be action adventures, but with a horror angle

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Profile Image for Laura.
1,375 reviews206 followers
January 13, 2021

”We can’t lose all we believe in. Our sense of right and wrong, said Maxie. Just to survive.
Just to survive? There’s no just about it. Survival is everything.”

Have you ever noticed that big budget everyone-is-pretty-as-all-hell-even-covered-in-blood Hollywood horror movies hardly ever kill kids? The kids escape, live to tell the tale, and walk off into the sunset with their “happily-ever-after” tucked under their arms. Well….let me say here and now—the same can NOT be said for a Charlie Higson world. The man has no problems slaughtering his characters—his kids. I realize that might sound sick, but hey, I’m talking horror here. haha… So yeah, I love the man already and this is just book one! :D

Come on. Let me introduce you to Charlie Higson’s world! The Enemy pulls readers into a world a year in to a “disaster” that made every grown up 16 years or older sick, crazed, and diseased. Adults overwhelmed with madness tear through the streets of London with a hunger for blood and flesh. Mothers and fathers turn on their own children. Teachers show students whole new kinds of bloody lessons. Neighbors killing neighbors. So in return, the children must take up arms and defend themselves. Kids killing parents, brothers, sisters, and friends. Brutal, bloody, disgusting battles of survival that will rip your soul to shreds!

All over London, groups of armed to the teeth kids have holed up to fight, work, and hopefully survive together. Readers meet two groups of kids banded together in supermarkets faced with hard decisions, low food supplies, and constant attacks from the grown-ups. When news comes down and around about a better place, a safe place with more kids, protection, and food—the kids decide to risk it all and head to Buckingham Palace. Yes, I said Buckingham Palace! Haha…Bloody brilliant, right? As a history geek, Higson is my hero. He has infused history lessons into a zombie tale! Haha…*bows head in awe*

The groups of children range from the very small to the older teenagers in charge with life and death decisions of sacrifice and loyalty. Attack, RUN, fire, or die! Fighting the grown-ups is a must to live another day, but when the fighting, power struggle, backstabbing, and manipulation grow within the bands of kids, each one must learn to stand up, pick a side, lead, follow, or question. The kids always assumed the dangers would come from the outside—drooling, sick, mad, grown-ups trying to get in. But what if the enemy is inside, in charge or right beside you? Can trust and loyalty survive the bloodbath and slaughter of this zombie like disaster?

Haha…I told myself I would not ramble on, but hell I haven’t even touched on the characters yet. Some of these voices and kids stole my heart right away while others slowly grew on me through the battles and chaos. Several were gone in a blink of an eye while others made me root, cheer and hope to see them lead in the future. So many kids woven together with their own voices, humor, and style. I loved them all! Each one contributed leadership, heart, intelligence, compassion, strength, and ingenuity. All coming to together to form a society. The way the different threads and ingredients twisted together here on the page was amazing! Brilliant! I have to shout love out for a few of my favorites though:

Arran—A leader we all hope for in real life. One who pulls everyone together by example, strength, and teamwork.

Maxie—The heart of the story for me. Pumping compassion and loyalty into the madness.

Oh, Whitney!—Haha….Girl, you are kickass! :D I would hug ya, but I’m willing to bet you would kick my ass!

Small Sam—Too cute for words, little man! He tiptoed right into my heart with his tenacity and courage!

The Kid—I can’t wait to see what this “half clever, half stupid, and half crazy” boy has up his sleeve. :) A character I kind of put in the same league as my love and obsession with Dodger from Oliver Twist. A character to keep your eye on at all times!

And now to my personal favorite (If I was forced to pick one anyway.) ACHILLEUS! He forged a fierce path through this story with humor, strength, and blood. *shakes head* The boy made a dent in my heart the size of Texas! Hell, they all did!

This brutal, no holds barred punch was filled with gruesome and disgusting detail. No illusions. No mercy. No pulled punches. Honest, bloody slaughter-like style that hit me in all the right places! This is their life now. Some kids could let go of the old life, accept, change and survive in the new brutal way of things. Others could not. Sad, bitter, and heartbreaking one minute—hilarious and hopeful the next. This story clawed at my insides in more ways than one….

I am reading book two as we speak, so I’m sure you will hear more of my gushing soon. :)

Will the gang survive the royal zombie treatment at the Palace? Hope you dive in and find out!

Read it. Charlie Higson’s world is unforgettable.

January 2021 Re-read:
I really missed these characters. All of them! It felt so good to see and hear them all again. I didn’t think it was possible, but my love grew ten times bigger after this re-read. To read this story right now, with everything going on the world, was something special. It was creepy and powerful. It packed a wallop! This end-of-the-world zombie battle has the action, humor, gore, and heart, but it also holds a lot of truth. So many lines made me stop and think. Like this one…

“We’re going to have to fight. That’s how the world is now. Better that we fight for something that’s worth it.” –Who decides what’s worth fighting for though?

Or this gem…

“In the end, all the bad stuff that happened to us, as well as all the good stuff, we got to share.”

This series says it over and over again—we have to work together to survive. It’s a lesson that fit right into my current world.

Read this book!!!

Profile Image for carol..
1,535 reviews7,873 followers
July 30, 2013

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One of my least favorite books from 9th grade English class was Lord of the Flies. I hated its theme, I hated its deliberate cruelty, I hated its vision of an island that was about the exact opposite of Island of the Blue Dolphins, a far more preferable tale. The Enemy is Lord of the Flies amped up, and while adding zombies would seem a natural fit for addressing survival in a world without adults, not even the undead can (re)animate this into a pleasurable tale.

Essentially, The Enemy combines zombies with the world of adolescents, scatters in a generous helping of random violence, all in a base layer of basic prose. Something has either killed the adults or turned them into zombies, leaving small groups of children under sixteen on their own. The setting is basic urban survival, and a band of youngsters is steadily growing more desperate when a pied piper comes to lead them to London. Specifically, to Buckingham Palace--I suppose if you are going to hole up in the apocalypse, why not go big? There's a parallel plot with a member of the group, Small Sam, seeking to rejoin his sister Ella after getting separated, and another limited storyline that deals with a boy who didn't want to leave their fortress. Overall, while the plot wasn't particularly surprising, it does moves quickly, despite kids arguing virtually every step of the way.

There were a couple of interesting offshoots, but unfortunately, they were likely there as teasers, as they weren't addressed before story end. For instance, Most of these questions come with the Small Sam storyline, where he is too focused on survival to question the larger issues. To some degree, I like a story that doesn't need to explain everything, and allows the reader to puzzle out solutions. Yet, without integration into the larger whole, the questions seemed to mostly fall into the deus ex machina category of unexplained actions/events that propel the plot forward or solve Sam's current problem.

Hisgen clearly has a developed world vision, and despite the unadorned prose, is able to create an atmosphere of depression and even despair. Clearly, while all are exhausted, a number of the children are also emotionally overwhelmed, burdened with the lives of those depending on them. Atmosphere excelled, but as mentioned earlier, it's the kind of skill that will fail to entertain me. Add in a willingness to sacrifice characters and a scattershot third-person subjective narrator and emotional engagement becomes a critical problem. Perhaps the Small Sam storyline is done to mitigate the emotional distancing, but for me, it wasn't enough. Both times through I noted dialogue is done well--the voices did seem like kids speaking, and if it later treads into well-worn philosophical territory of defining humanity and rebuilding society, it at least takes awhile to get there.

The zombies are largely there as action propellents, inciting the kids into ill-planned action. Once they serve their purpose, they are largely left behind to focus on the social dynamics of the children, so zombie-fans beware. Were you questioning why I mentioned Lord of the Flies?

Ultimately, it felt like a read for a more masochistic kind of mood--one where I don't mind the violence, the negative philosophy, the lack of emotional connection, the basic prose and too many teasers.

Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0...
Profile Image for Aaron Vincent.
94 reviews21 followers
August 9, 2010
Perhaps the most brutal and goriest YA dystopia novel I ever read. It's bloodfest almost every chapter. The novel is jam-packed with things that makes peace-loving bitches wince. Zombie attacks, strong language[There is a line from a character that shocked the hell out of me: "I didn't like him. He's getting on my tits!". Fuck Yeah Awesomeness!] cannibalism, and gladiator, everything. It's bloody, dark, violent and best of all, it's pure fun. Definitely not for the faint heart and sensitive stomach[especially the self-righteous douchebags:].

Charlie Higson is a damn brave author. He's nonchalant about killing his characters left and right. He doesn't care if its a major or a minor one. He's a psychopath. He will let you get attached to the character first, then he will kill it. He's like "You're liking this character, eh? What you would feel if I do this", then he'll kill that character in a brutal way. Pure wickedness. No one is safe.

I highly recommend this to those who loves Michael Grant's GONE novels. Both book shares the same elements such as big casts, in-your-face non-stop actions, kids going against each other, alternating perspectives, fast pacings etc. It's fun literature at its best.

It will leave you exhausted but it will also leave you zombie-hungry for more. I'm effin ready for more bloodfest and in-your-face violence. The Dead, bring it on!

I dare you to read it!
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 509 books402k followers
November 8, 2013
The Enemy, by Charlie Higson. I got to hear Charlie speak at the Disney-Hyperion dinner at BEA in New York. He said he tried to make this book as scary as possible, and would read scenes to his son, ratcheting them up until his son had trouble sleeping at night. I figured this must be worth checking out! The best description I can think of: The Enemy is The Lord of the Flies with zombies. It’s set in London after a mysterious sickness has killed off most everyone over the age of sixteen, but left some adults alive as mutated, brainless creatures who want to kill and eat the surviving children. Gruesome enough for you? Bands of children roam the streets looking for food and trying to survive. One such group has created a fortress at a supermarket, but they are out of supplies and the situation looks grim, until a mysterious messenger arrives with an invitation: Come to Buckingham Palace, and you’ll be safe. Is it a dream come true, or a trap? The novel offers tons of nail-biting action. Be aware: children die in this book, sometimes in nasty ways. The violence is not graphically portrayed, but Higson presents a dark, scary future. Different families have different comfort levels about this sort of thing, which is why I mention it, but is The Enemy a page-turner? Absolutely!
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,354 reviews123 followers
August 12, 2021
What happens when all the grown ups turn into zombies and the kids have to look after themselves? Charlie Higson will tell you!

What an excellent book. I was hooked on this and will be reading the rest of the series.

It's classed as a YA book but in all honestly, at 35 years of age I was scared!
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews946 followers
May 12, 2020
Can you enjoy a book where pretty much every one of your favourite characters gets chomped on by a zombie?

I’m going to say yes because this book was brilliant.

This book was genuinely creepy and I like to think I’m made of strong stuff. Unless clowns are involved… and boats….and, like, those huge Australian bugs that Mandee and Reynje take so much pleasure in sending me pictures of when I’m expecting wallabies and koala bears.
OK, actually…. Maybe I am a bit of a wuss.
But one thing that struck me about this book was how atmospheric it was. I know I made a similar observation in my review for This is Not a Test, but one of the first scenes (the bit in the swimming pool, for those who have read it!) was like the beginning of a horror film.
A group of kids are inside somewhere and it’s quiet. Too quiet. But they’re safe in here. Aren’t they? You get an idea of the individual characters. You have the leader, the cocky one, the cheeky two and the one who keeps looking over his shoulder. Better safe than sorry, right? And they’re all talking and sniping at each other and behaving like boys do. And none of them have noticed that something is wrong. Really wrong.
And that’s where I’ll stop.
I can’t describe it because I’m not a writer like Mr Higson. I mean, you’ve read my other reviews, right?

“He’d always been scared of the dark. His mum had told him not to worry.
‘If you can’t see the monsters, they can’t see you.’
Back then there had been no monsters. Not real ones. Only imaginary.

[FYI: That quote is from my favourite scenes in the book. SO GOOD.]

And also, it’s bloody disgusting. It’s really gruesome. We’re talking Yancey’s The Monstrumologist gruesome.
“The skin blackened, shrivelled and split, the overripe flesh inside squeezing out. His insides had turned to mush… Arran prodded the body with his trainer. As he did so the skin popped, a stream of pus oozed out followed by a bright pink blossom of soft fat.”

I mean, that’s disgusting, right? That’s so vile. That’s absolutely horrendous.

It’s also AWESOME. And that’s not even the best bit. That comes later and eeerrrrrrgrgrghhhh it’s brilliant.

Mr Higson certainly knows how to write a story. The twists and turns were perfectly executed and, even though if you’ve ever read a zombook or a zombie film you may guess some of the twists and turns, it didn’t bother me at all. There were certain scenes and certain things that happened that had me completely thrown. Mr Higson really took the phrase ‘Kill your darlings’ to a whole new level. Or at least ‘Kill Jo’s darlings’… so, yeah, THANKS FOR THE ANGST, CHARLIE HIGSON.

I think without Mr Higson’s attention to detail with the characters this could have fallen into the ‘Oh... a zombie book? Now that’s original!’ trap. I have lots and lots of notes about my favourite characters in this book but seeing as I’ve told you that most of ‘em turn into Zombie Snacks (similar to Scooby Snacks, by the way, but more…um, living) I’m not going to share my specific thoughts and feelings. I kind of loved every single one of them. Their back stories, their dialogue, their reactions to what was happening around them, how strong they were when…things….happened. Love love love.
But even though I loved a lot of the characters individually, I adored how they worked as a group. They all had their roles to play without it being cliché and box-ticky. Yeah we have the smart one and yeah we have the one who wants to go zombie hunting, and the one who isn’t sure what to do but everyone’s looking at for help? Yep, they’re there too. But it felt fresh and exciting and by the time I got to the end, I really felt like I was part of their group.

Though, that’s probably wishful thinking because I would want to be part of their group. Because, if/when a zombie apocalypse happens, I’m going to be used for bait. I know this and I’ve accepted this. But maybe if I stuck with the kids in this book I’d last a little bit longer before they dress me in a bright colour and shove me out into the street before locking the door behind me.


You know that feeling when you read the first book of a series (although, from my understanding, they don’t follow on? Just the same universe, though I may just be telling you vicious lies) and you get all excited and giddy and you look at every grown up thinking they might eat you? I have it with this book and I’m really excited to read more because if that ending is anything to go on, a lot more scary brilliance this way comes.

Oh and also; zombie monkeys.
What was that? You want me to elaborate?
No way.
If the phrase ‘zombie monkeys’ doesn’t make you immediately add this to your reading list, I don’t think anything will.

Anyway, I’m gonna have to go because there’s this really creepy bloke just standing outside my house. I mean… what kind of grown man wears a St George’s flag t-shirt and oh my god, I don’t believe it! He’s just got his friends to come too and… nope, I’m not having this. Hold that thought… I’ll be right back.
Profile Image for Lindsey Lynn (thepagemistress).
373 reviews93 followers
April 2, 2016
3.5/5 Stars

This book takes place in dystopian London and all adults have succumbed to this disease, making them zombie like. There are only the kids left unharmed and now they have to survive daily life. With the threat of the grown-ups around every corner we follow a large group of children who are just trying to make it to the next day.

I'm a very character driven reader, and this book quickly throws people at you. So I found it a bit difficult to connect to anyone.

The world building was great and I appreciated the plot. The idea of this disease only targeting adults was also very intriguing. I ended up really liking Small Sam and his character development since we spent the most one on one time with him.

Liked this book, not the best dystopian that I've ever read but I am curious to see what happens in the rest of the series, especially since there are 6 more books.
Profile Image for ☣Lynn☣.
743 reviews203 followers
February 15, 2023
June 2016

This is the fourth time I've read this and I love it more than the first time. Can't wait to finally finish this series!

This series is going under my favorite YA zombie books. Even though I wouldn't really call the 'grownups' zombies, but oh well. It's gory, has plenty of action, has great characters, and I love that it takes place somewhere else besides the U.S. I also love the fact that a lot of characters die. The author isn't afraid to kill of some characters. It's like how GOT is...so my tip is to NOT to get attached to anyone. I made that mistake the first time I read this years ago. Got attached to one specific character and Bam! they die. :/

Can't wait to finish rereading them all and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of the last book in November.
Profile Image for Amber.
992 reviews
January 19, 2015
When a mysterious virus turns all of the adults into kid-devouring zombies, the children must do all that they can to survive. Can they while out-running the adult zombies and find a place they can call safe? Read on for yourself and find out.

This was a pretty good Ya zombie book that was a different take on the zombie mythos. Definitely check this out if you are a fan of horror and zombie books. This book is available at hastings and wherever books are sold.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,304 reviews384 followers
October 11, 2021
Sure it. Ight not be the greatest Zombie novel ever written. But it was a lot of fun and a great start to a series. Very excited to see what's gonna happen next!
Profile Image for Erin.
232 reviews103 followers
February 20, 2012
Aw yeah. This is more like it.

I usually read books that are more romance-heavy, and reading this has really proven to me that I needed a break. This book was SO GOOD, you guys.

I'm not much into summarizing, so in short: for some unknown reason, all adults and older teens (at the time the illness struck) have either died or turned into a zombie-like creature. They will kill and eat any children they can. The Enemy is about a large cast of young characters trying to stay safe by any means necessary.

Favorite Characters
Arran The head honcho of the kids. He is the quintessential "leader" character, with a heart of gold to match. He gets much love from me.
Ollie Ollie was pretty much the best. He's shrewdly intelligent, always calculating and quiet in the background. His motto: don't play your cards till your adversary has played all of theirs. He also is pretty sick with a slingshot, which I thought was a cool weapon. Ollie, I will always trust your judgment.
Maxie Maxie* is Arran's second-in-command. She's a plain-looking girl with a no-nonsense attitude, but when things start getting ugly (as they are bound to get in such circumstances) she's strong enough to retain her humanity, even as those around her slip into savagery.
Blue Hello, recipient of my romantic love. Although he's probably thirteen, so, gross. He's the leader of a semi-rival group of surviving kids and can keep his head in almost any situation.
The Kid OH MY GOSH, THE KID. And that's all I'll say for now, for fear of spoilage.

*tee hee... Edited this a month later, because for some reason the original said "Marcie". Sorry Maxie.

Best Parts
The beginning started with a bang. I was grabbed almost from the first page (the omniscient narration took a while to get used to) and thrown into the action. I don't think I handle stress very well, because I was shrieking and squealing and generally making a scene throughout the whole book, but especially during this beginning scene, which is a great introduction into the tone of the book:

He had the familiar look of a vegetable, or a piece of fruit, left too long in the sun. The skin blackened, shriveled and split, the overripe flesh inside squeezing out.

I literally yelled "OH NASTY!" at that part, it was so revolting. And yet I loved every second of it. :)

My favorite scene, however, took place toward the end. Two hardcore guys have an intense fight to the death. Oh my word. I could barely read it, yet I was fascinated. There was so much tension and repulsion and the stakes have never been higher. Shout-out to Achilleus, the fighter I was rooting for. Sorry you didn't make my "favorite characters" list, buddy, but sometimes you scared me.

Also, there is a section with cannibals, which is a basic requirement for any post-apocalyptic story. Can't say I blame them for choosing that route.

Like I mentioned earlier, the narrative technique kept me at a distance for quite some time. It was omniscient to the extreme, bouncing from perspective to perspective constantly. Like, every other paragraph type of constantly. So for a while I felt detached from the characters and couldn't imagine caring about their deaths (BOY WAS I WRONG), but I eventually grew to cherish every small peek into their minds. The characters were pieced together one brief dip into their heads at a time. It was a very interesting way to narrate the story, and one I don't think I've come across before.

The Enemy was a fabulous page-turner. It terrified me, it made me laugh (sometimes nervously, sometimes out of real mirth), and it made me cheer (WHERE MY LADIEZ AT?). There wasn't much emotional depth to it... but at the same time, there was. I dunno. What I do know is that if the action gets any scarier, there is a chance the next book will make me pee my pants. Gah.

Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,364 followers
October 11, 2017
So good! I ordered the complete series before even finishing this one! I'm on #2 now and completely hooked! I've been in a huge reading slump the past year - trying and failing to get captivated by a book. This is the first one I've been completely lost in in such a long time and finished it in only a few sittings (I'm a slow reader too lol).

I love how in just a few pages, and with many characters to boot, you really get to understand and root for every single one. Which is likely not the best idea seeing as this author KILLS. A LOT! It stings! But... I love how brutal, realistic, and horrific it all is. You start to feel the loss that these kids are all feeling. It's gutsy and awesome! There's also a good dose of humor, witty banter, tons of personality, and strong friendships that are bonded from the need to survive and create some sort of stability (however small) into a world that has spun out of control. Definitely a must read for any post-apocalyptic fan!
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,419 followers
August 27, 2018
I love zombie apocalypse in all media apart from in books, it seems. I find the high-action scenes that work so well on screen fail to appeal to me in quite the same way, in literary format. This is entirely a personal preference and found this book excellently executed in what it was (as all the other rave reviews will attest to) but was merely not the read for me.

This did, however, manage to provide the creep-factor I do love in my fiction, on multiple occasions, and created a startlingly bleak yet vividly realistic future landscape, with a lovable band of rogues, in which to bring this dystopia to life.
Profile Image for K..
3,673 reviews1,007 followers
July 21, 2022
Trigger warnings: gore, death, violence, death of a child, cannibalism, zombies, seriously y'all there is LOTS of death and violence and gore, death of a parent (in the past), animal death, blood, gun violence, stabbing, mentions of depression and mental health.

I failed to heed my own warning from 2020 and now I have REGRETS. (The book was still fantastic. I just feel queasy now...)

Public service announcement: Don't eat while you're reading this.

I stand by everything I said about this book last time around. Except that this time, I adopted a don't-read-before-bed strategy to avoid the nightmares, which was incredibly successful. HURRAH.

It's such a fast paced and engaging story, and I was on the edge of my seat for the duration of the book. There are characters you'll hate but can still feel for, and characters you just want to hug, and characters you'll be terrified for. It's gory and violent and creepy and gross, but I just couldn't put it down. And I think I'm going to try and read one of these books a week over the next six weeks to keep the story fresh in my mind.

Holy crap. This is quite possibly the most terrifying book I've ever read, and it's YA. This book gave me nightmares about zombies. Of the wake-up-at-2am-sitting-bolt-upright-in-bed-with-your-heart-pounding variety. The kind where it takes you an hour and 60 pages of a happy adorable squee-worthy book to calm you down enough that you can actually get back to sleep. Admittedly, zombies are my personal squick, but this book is still terrifying.

If you're squeamish, this book is not for you. This book is like The Walking Dead meets Lord of the Flies. The zombies ooze and drip various substances (and occasionally burst). Kids get eaten, attacked by dogs, attacked by each other, shot, bitten, held prisoner and are generally living in squalor. And when I say kids, I don't mean teenagers. One character in particular reveals towards the end of the book that he's only nine, which practically ripped my heart out of my chest because OMG NO NINE YEAR OLD SHOULD HAVE TO GO THROUGH ANY OF WHAT HE'S BEEN THROUGH IN THE COURSE OF THIS BOOK.

It felt quite similar to Michael Grant's Gone series a lot of the time - a world where anyone older than 15 is gone and where kids are fighting for survival and to find food and water and a sense of stability - but with a better sense of organisation. The older kids look out for the younger ones and try to keep them safe as much as possible. Despite knowing that there's no one to stop them from smoking or drinking, no one seems to be doing so, perhaps because it would lead to increased vulnerability from the grown ups.

I wasn't expecting to like this, given that zombies freak me the hell out. And I'm not even sure that I *did* enjoy it - it's a brutal and often terrifying book from start to finish. But it WAS well written, filled with incredible characters, and (I really hate this "word" but there's no other way of putting it) unputdownable. Despite my zombie squick, I'm going to keep reading the series because OMG I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

Warning: do not become attached to anyone. They will probably die. Messily.
Profile Image for Emily.
201 reviews124 followers
April 19, 2014
I enjoyed this book so much! Characters are killed left and right, and none of the horrible details are left out. It's gory, brutal, slightly gross at times - just how I like it. The writing, guys, is just fantastic! There's nothing "special" about it: there's no flowery prose or philosophical quotes to hang on my wall, instead it's fast-paced and drew me in so fast! Higson has this way of writing that makes it feel so real. One moment I'm with Maxie and her gang, and in the next paragraph I can be a kid seeing grown-ups approach. It just flows so nicely, action after action after bloody gory battlescenes. There's no filtering here. There's no "he got a wound and died", oh no no no. Everything is described, every single detail. At times I was so into the book I thought I would get anxiety attacks, because no kid was safe. One moment they were there and then they weren't. It's so intense!

The characters had me rooting for them, and even though they could piss me off at times I just really love them all. As I said before, no kid in this story was safe, and every time someone died I would be getting teary-eyed and silently curse that fictional world for being so unfair. There were moments where I felt so happy for them, times when I wanted to hug them or help them kill some zombies, and all in all they were my friends. I miss them already! (especially you, Achilleus)
Profile Image for Andye.Reads.
843 reviews428 followers
April 20, 2011
This book has been sitting on my bookshelf since last Spring.
I feel like a complete idiot.
I absolutely LOVED this book.
Without a doubt my favorite book of 2011 so far.
Seriously my mind is blown.
This book was crazy.

I have never read a book that has kept me up at because it freaked me out so much.
I usually don't get freaked out easily, but The Enemy was definitely freaky.
Not to mention gross, whatever you do, don't read this book while eating.
I made that mistake and couldn't finish my food.
But I have one problem with this book...
I cannot decide which character I loved more.
There are three characters that I absolutely loved.
I loved Maxie because her character is crazy tough
and yet it stills shows you that she has her girl moments,
But then she freaking means business when there is crap to be dealt with.
I loved Small Sam because,
1. He was just so darn cute.
2. He is only nine, and he accomplished things that I could never do.
3. The chapters from his point of view were my favorite.
And since he is nine, I always imagined my little brother Adrien as Sam.
Which to me, made it a lot more stressful when Sam was in a tough situation,
with you know, getting away from flesh-eating-diseased-parents.
And lastly, I loved Blue.
Even though he didn't come in until about half-way through the book,
I fell in love with him. He was just such great guy,
he was really quite, but he kicked some serious zombie butt when needed.
So, if super gory details of kids killing grown-ups doesn't bother you,
then you MUST (seriously must) read The Enemy.
I am actually thinking about reading it again, but I have a pretty large pile in
my room of books that I need to read already.
But that is the only thing stopping me.
I absolutely cannot wait until the second comes out.
When I finished The Enemy, I closed the book and said,
"You've got to be freaking kidding me. I need the second one RIGHT NOW!"
And since then I have not been able to think about anything but The Enemy.
Just you know what, stop reading this review, and go to the nearest bookstore,
and buy The Enemy. The rest of my review doesn't even matter anymore.
You got the point that it's amazing, so that's all you need to know. (:

Abigaile http://ReadingTeen.net/
Profile Image for Millard.
44 reviews67 followers
February 4, 2019
The story of Dognut, Courtney and a few others in their search for Brooke. Their journey takes them across London encountering other groups of children and sickos. These groups are interesting because they have evolved into differing formats. Some political, some warrior like, some regal, some technical. Each group has its own way of running things and thinks that it has chosen the best methods to survive. The `leaders' of these groups have different agendas too with some just wanting to keep their pocket of survivors alive, some wanting action, and others wanting power over others. Several things become apparent in that no one particular method is the `correct' method, power may not be as glamorous as it seems, and some people don't care who they tread on to get what they want. This topic opens up quite well and is easy to understand from the way events unfold.
The blood, guts, puss and general gore is there for those that want it. One bit almost had me putting the book down until I had finished my left over curry that I was having for lunch at work. It was particularly sickening whilst trying to eat. The `zombies' sometimes behave slightly differently to your usual brainless eating machines too.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
660 reviews3,882 followers
October 13, 2016
“If a wolf attacks his sheep, the shepard kills the wolf, but he eats the sheep when he's hungry.”

The Enemy is one of those books I really, really liked when 14/15. I read all the series that was out at the time, and then I had ..... THE READING SLUMP™ . So I lost track of the series and now four or so years on I was like, hmmm, maybe I should check those books out again

Two things strike me about thse books:

2: They're not /as good/ as I remember. But still pretty good.

Basically, it's about a group of kids living in a supermarket at the end of the world. All the adults have become diseased and ... started ... eating the kids !! and it's hectic.

fucking terrifying. These books are so, so gory and awful. You got kids getting eatin all over the place, you got kids fighting eachother. You got cannibalism, you got psycho monkeys, you got disease and death and blergh just about everything other thing you can think of. I mean these books are brutal, you think your fave is safe because they're a ""main character"" but oooohh no. Charlie Higson definitely understands the concept of "kill your darlings"

&& Aside from the fact it's gory, the actual ""zombies"" themselves are INSANE These are not just lumbering critters who you might run into, ooh no.
These bad boys are INTELLIGENT.
THEY !! LITERALLY !! MAKE !! PLANS !! AND !! AMBUSH !! KIDS !! AND !! THEY !! ARE !! SO !! SCARY !!. Not to mention some of it is told in the POV of a zombie, shudders
They make the Walking Dead zombies look like fluffy little bunnies. Like, these books are scary as all hell I am worried about Past Me

→ Worldbuilding. Because, I know what you're thinking. Another zombie book? Another kids alone without adults book!? yeah, yeah I get you fam but listen these bring something new to the table.

First of all, they're set in London. And along with the setting comes the general annoying propriety that is associated with Brits. You got kids from posh boarding schools, Kings and Queens, and it's full of British slang. It was a new twist to the tired, typical American setting and I liked it. (plus, the "hideouts" of the kids are something else, since this is London, hub of ridiculous and over the top architecture - the hideouts are real neat I mean, they're hiding out in Buckingham Palace its amazing. ( So on a side note, how come Rick & Co from the walking dead haven't tried to shelter from zombies in the white house !?!)

But aside from that, the development of the kids, the different groups and cultures that have sprung up in these groups is good worldbuilding. Each different group of kids has it's own customs, traditions, languages and while they're not /too different/ they all still have their quirks and its just interesting. The expansion of the world just in one book was great.

→ ACTION. So much action, on every page. These are quick books because they're so fast paced and the pace never lets up. Something is going down on every single page and it's great.


→ Yeah, the characters. Just a bit of a letdown. They're not awful, not by any means. These characters pass, but they're nothing special. I don't feel any of them are particularly complex or well developed. They exist to propel the story but I just wanted MORE. I wanted more from them, I wanted more about how the apocalypse if effecting them, how they feel, what they stand for. Don't get me wrong because we do get it, I just wanted much MORE to really develop them.

And on another note with characters, I wanted to mention diversity because I felt, for a book written in 2010 when diversity wasn't so much of a big deal it's pretty good. I would have liked to see more anD I COMPLETELY FORGOT FROM THE FIRST TIME I READ IT THAT AKKIE KISSES JOHN AND I THINK IT WAS A /JOKE/ AND HE WAS JUST ESTABLISHING HIMSELF AND I DON'T REMEMBER IT BEING A THING LATER ON BUT I WISH IT WAS BECAUSE WHEN HE DID THAT I WAS LIKE ?!?! #GiveAchilleusABoyfriend

→ Representation of women. I just, eh eh eh. I don't wanna say too much about it but it was a bit disappointing that there are very very female characters in this and the ones that are there are often given the "mothering" role and while Maxie is the leader of the Waitrose kids by the end, no one really respects her and I just eh eh eh. It was okay, but it was kinda off too.


Anyway, overrall I'd give this a 3.5 I think these books are genuinely terrifying, and a great addition to a genre thats overcrowded, especially in recent years with the rise in popularity of The Walking Dead. Regardless, I'm glad I reread this and while it wasn't as great as I remembered, it was still pretty good.
Profile Image for thebookbitch.
340 reviews341 followers
March 5, 2017
Okay, so the ending really changed everything for me. I love the characters, although there are a few too many to follow but I think Charlie Higson has set up a series nicely. I'm super excited to continue on with the series and find out what happens to the Waitrose and Morrison's Crew.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,573 reviews33.9k followers
August 9, 2016
3.5 stars

I've been meaning to try out this series for a long time, and I'm glad I started! It's an interesting story that keeps you engaged, and features terrific action sequences. I especially liked how the gore was handled--squicky, but not too over the top. The author isn't afraid to kill of characters you've gotten attached to, and they aren't telegraphed too far ahead of time, either.

What prevents this from being rounded up for me is that those deaths, while piquing my interest, never moved me as much as they should have--and that's indicative of the lack of emotional investment I felt for the characters. There's a big cast of them in this selective omniscient third party POV, and while their stories are handled well for the most part, they're intriguing without being truly engaging...so the stakes never really feel that high, even when there are dangerous things going on. The pacing also felt a little off to me, and the dialogue is serviceable, but not much more than that.

I give it points for the creepy couple, though, as well as logical and engrossing progressions in plot. I also liked Small Sam's story, and Callum's, and I'm interested in seeing what becomes of Maxie and Blue. Definitely continuing on with the series, as the story kept me interested, surprised me every once in awhile, and I'm curious how the author sustains this for seven books. SEVEN!

A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Profile Image for Patricia Crowther.
478 reviews44 followers
October 23, 2016
Maybe even 4.5*?

Is this MG or YA? I'm not sure. But either way it didn't feel like it. Sometimes when I read books with younger characters it feels like it's been written for a younger audience but not so with this one. I really liked the writing and the characters. Though I've decided not to get too attached to the characters because I can see there's no point. The death toll across the series is probably gonna be high. It all felt pretty realistic too. Though we don't get to know what caused the apocalypse I'm definitely intrigued by it and will continue. At some point!
Profile Image for Lazybee.
512 reviews25 followers
November 20, 2015
GOOD LORD! What a book!
Finally a book that is in league of gone series. Read it and you will love it
Profile Image for Annie (Sad Water Bottle).
190 reviews81 followers
May 26, 2020
4 Stars // 86%
I've always wanted to go to London. And I've always liked zombie survival stories. So when the two of them combined...you know what I had to do. I added The Enemy as soon as I saw it on Goodreads, and let's just say that from there on it was love at first sight.

Because The Enemy is phenomenal. Not phenomenal as in having no flaws, but phenomenal as in hooking Annie from the very first page. Phenomenal as in the characters were so well-written I just wanted to cuddle with them. Phenomenal as in maybe the best book I've read in ages. And, err, yes...phenomenal as in I'm going to be continuing the series even though my goal for 2019 is to finish my unfinished series. Not start new ones.

dont judge me
It's true love; you wouldn't understand.

👍 The Plot and Pacing
There are actually three separate storylines in The Enemy, and they all have there fair share of blood, death, and gore. The best part about these storylines, however, is that they're all open-ended. This, combined with the sheer amount of unanswered questions regarding the disease and how certain things came, makes for a million different ways the plot could go.
If a wolf attacks his sheep, the shepherd kills the wolf, but he eats the sheep when he's hungry.
Now that I look back on it, The Enemy felt very expository and serves as only an introduction to the series. Instead of plot set-up, it was a lot of getting things into place for future books and introducing the cast. But if you think that makes the book boring or lack conflict...ha! Higson drops you in a world ravaged by disease, and boy, there is definitely conflict. In fact, the breakneck action and fast-speed writing just might give you whiplash.

👍 The Writing
Some writers write like a song. Some writers write like a comedian. And then there's Charlie Higson, who writes with a raw simpleness that can bring out the deepest of my emotions. No, Higson's writing will not give you braingasms. No, Higson's writing will not make you laugh at every page. But where other writers can give you pleasure, Charlie Higson can make you feel. Throw out the gore, the suffering, the sheer hysteria because it's YA? I think not.
I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Reading The Enemy, I had this strange feeling of happy-bittersweetness which I thought was because of the bleak setting, but no. It was the way the words were strung together. I don't know how to explain it, except, think of the feeling you get when you hear a beautiful melody. Not the oh, look, Taylor Swift type beautiful, but the kind of beautiful that reaches into your soul and makes you want to cry. Because the writing The Enemy truly touched my heart, something that no other book has really done before in a long, long time.

I'll be the first to admit I found myself skimming at times, a fault of the writing and not something else. But it just felt so good to feel that feeling again, I think I can excuse it. My friends, you keep your purple prose. Me? I think I'll busy myself with something else.

👍 The Characters
Oh my goodness. You small precious cinnamon rolls. I need to roll everyone up in a blanket and steal you away from the absolute monster Higson who is no doubt plotting to kill you all. I just want everyone to bathe in the waters of eternal happiness forever and ever and ever. Look what you've done to me, Charlie Higson. You've made me care about a ton of misfit teenagers whom I wouldn't actually like to be friends with in real life.

Case in point? Meet The Kid, who is totally not my new book best friend. There are just so many paths his character could wander down. There are just so many paths everyone could wander down. So many backstories to discover, arcs to complete, secrets to reveal...I'm 100% on board with our cast. Just so long as Higson doesn't kill everyone first, which, at the rate he's currently going, is totally possible.

my dudes
Rule no. 1 is don't get attached to anyone because they probably die.

And, of course, the relationships are so on point they're sharper than Achilleus' spear. (Yeah, I didn't know that was possible either, but it is.) The platonic relationships between Maxie and Whitney, Maxie and Ollie, and of course, Small Sam and The Kid are amazing. Then there's Maxie and , a couple I can definitely see together given enough development.
These boys were survivors. The will to live was stronger than any other feeling.
Actually, I'm going to talk about Maxie's character arc. I'll admit it, I was growing annoyed by her whiny personality in the few hundred pages following The Incident, but she really did grow in the end. I love how she learned to be an independent young lady who could take care of herself just fine. As for The Incident itself (which, by the way, was totally uncalled for), I feel like it would have had more of an impact if it had taken place later in the story, but I get it. Every group needs a figurehead,

Final Thoughts
Many of you know that I love reading post-apocalyptic fiction for a lot of reasons, but ultimately, it comes down to those frightening, adrenaline-filled, heart-pounding, can't-put-the-book-down moments of terror. The Enemy delivered everything I loved on a silver platter, and for that, I'm grateful. Recommended for people who are in need of a good zombie thriller...and to people who aren't. Seriously, just read it. Meanwhile, I'll be reading The Dead...
“When we're strong enough," said Sam, "will you come with me?"
"Where? To Bucko Palace?"
"Yes. To find Ella."
"Course I will," said the Kid, and he put an arm around Sam. "It'll be a new grand adventure of the old school. They'll write books about us. Long books. Nothing's gonna split us up, small fry. We're a team. Like Batman and Robin Hood."
And he sang.
Happy Reading! Love, A n n i e ❤❤
Profile Image for Elena.
821 reviews86 followers
May 23, 2011
This book has a pretty great (if not entirely original) premise: A year and a half ago, everyone over 16 contracted a horrible disease that killed almost all the adults and turned the rest into what are essentially zombies. A group of ~50 kids has been making do by turning a Waitrose grocery store into their fortress, but food is becoming scarce, the grown-ups/zombies are becoming bolder, and kids are getting picked off one by one. Then comes word that Buckingham Palace is safe--no grown-ups, a walled yard, and the beginnings of agriculture. But first the kids of Waitrose have to get there through miles of hungry grown-ups, and even if they manage it, Buckingham Palace may not be the paradise it seems.

Sounds pretty good, right? It should have been.

My main problem with this book is that I didn't really connect to the characters at all, an issue that has two sources:
1) The book is written from an omniscient point of view. Not rotating points of view, mind, but true omniscient--the book skips around from one person's thoughts to another on a sentence to sentence basis. And the cast of characters is huge, with 50 Waitrose kids plus all the other folks they bump into. Hell, we even get one or two zombie perspectives. This means that the reader spends so little time with the characters that it's hard to form a connection. I like to crawl inside a character's head and live there, but I couldn't do that with this book.
2) Characters drop like flies. In this setting, it's super realistic to have a character die about every 20 pages, but it had the effect of numbing me. There were so many deaths that none of them really had the emotional impact that they ought to have had, and it also meant that I didn't want to get too attached to any of the characters, because there was about a 25% chance that the character would be dead before the end of the book, if not significantly sooner. In this case, I feel that Higson's emphasis on realism came at the expense of good storytelling.

Another problem I had is that I couldn't make heads or tails of the disease itself. I'm no biologist, but I am a fantasist, and worlds have to adhere to an internal logic. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the internal logic was here.

I really love this sort of premise (one of my favorite books as a pre-teen was The Girl Who Owned a City), and Higson has written some really deliciously creepy scenes. I'm a little bit curious about how he'll develop things in the next book, but the omniscient POV that prevented me from really getting into this book will likely prevent me from picking up the second.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,566 reviews259 followers
October 31, 2016
The Enemy by Charlie Higson is set during the middle of the zombie apocalypse in London, England and follows teen survivors. The zombie apocalypse came about due to a disease that only affected the adults who slowly deteriorated into mindless flesh-eating zombies. The main group of survivors have holed up in a supermarket, so when another group comes and offers them refuge at Buckingham Palace, they begin the dangerous trek across the city in hopes of finding sanctuary.

I plowed through this 448 page novel in two days - it's that fast-paced and addicting. I didn't want to stop turning the pages. While thrilling and a good take on zombies, the storyline felt a little too familiar and it was difficult for me to fully connect with anyone from the cast. However, the last hundred pages or so took everything up and even and made me bump my rating up to a full four stars. If you're a fan of The Walking Dead, you may like to begin this series opener. I believe I will be continuing on with it eventually.

My review can also be found on my blog.
Profile Image for Leni - From The White Cottage.
131 reviews55 followers
December 30, 2016
Lord of the Flies meets The Walking Dead
It was a good book but another series.... I think it would have been enough to add a few more pages and leave it as a stand alone.
Still a fast read!
Profile Image for Tina.
444 reviews457 followers
February 21, 2012
Original post at One More Page

It's been a long time since I last read a zombie book, so I knew I was in for a bit of an adjustment when I decided to read my stocked zombie books for my February challenge. The Enemy by Charlie Higson has been languishing on my shelf since 2010, after my friend Aaron lent it to me for my YA-D2 challenge for that year. Obviously I never read it for that, and I don't think I would have unearthed this now if I didn't choose to read it for this month.

Besides, a borrowed book on my shelf for a year feels wrong.

In The Enemy , all people aged sixteen and above have succumbed to a disease that turns them into flesh-eating monsters. Only the children are left and several have made it into some safehouses, banding together using their own abilities to survive in a bleak world. One of these groups of kids were the Waitrose kids, led by Arran and Maxie, who has lived in an abandoned grocery in the last few months. Food and resources are scarce, and the kids are already losing hope. Until one day, a kid in a colorful coat comes and invites them to join him to Buckingham Palace, where another group of kids are living and are successful in creating a new life for themselves. The kids decided to go with him, but will their lives really change for the better once they get to the palace?

The Enemy starts of with action and doesn't really leave that kind of mode until the end. Which is good, because it kept me on my toes and had me biting my fingernails for whatever else could happen to these kids. Other people warned me not to get attached to any of the characters in the book because the author kills them -- and it is true. Boy how true is that. This makes for a very gripping read because you just never know who would die and how, and you never know who are the bad guys really are.

I also really liked Small Sam's story -- I think I was rooting for him the most! I like how his story paralleled the others, and where he got to. The subway (or to be appropriate, the tube) scene in the dark reminded me of a similar scene in The Dark and Hollow Places , and it truly got me worried for him and how he would get out of it. There's also a hint of cannibalism in the story and I have to admit that it got my stomach churning uncomfortably there.

With all these positive things, though, I have to admit that I wasn't that invested in the story. That, and I was partly grossed out for some reason. Maybe I've turned soft and my stomach isn't as adept as handling zombie gore anymore. There were several times I felt like gagging while reading the book, and I couldn't handle reading it while eating. With that, I didn't really feel like I was glued to the pages. True, the story had all sorts of action and it made me fear for the characters, but my overall feeling in the end was, "Okay, finally that was done." I only really wanted to see how it ended, but I didn't care that much as compared to the other zombie novels I read and loved. My friends who have read this all sang praises to this...but I'm afraid I'm more on the lukewarm side.

Now that I think about it...maybe I have turned soft. :O

Nevertheless, The Enemy is still one of the better written zombie novels out there, and it's a good read especially for those who like more gore than the usual. If you want to read a book about survival, a bit of politics and the undead, then his Higson book is for you. What's more: its sequel, The Dead , is already out so you won't have to wait too long to know what Charlie Higson had in mind when he thought of a post-apocalyptic world.
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