Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Dead by Charlie Higson

Target Audience: Older Teens/Young Adults
Genre: Horror/Dystopian

If you thought that The Enemy was very gory and frightening then this will terrify the hell out of you. Initially i thought this continued from the first in series, but it is actually a different set of kids from a different area, trying to escape to London, but a year before the events of the The Enemy. Don't get me wrong, the books are intertwined and things overlap slightly with some characters from the first novel appearing in this one, but in different ways.

In summary, The Dead is about a group of children who are at a boarding school in Kent at the time the infection starts and it begins with a flashback to the very start of the infection, with a youtube video, which to me served as a stark reminder of the modern time it't set in. Shortly after the outbreak, the boys at the school realise that there only chance is to leave their school and look for safety. Eventually, they decide on London and then the most terrifying, gory and emotional story i've read in a long time, begins.

If this one thing that makes these books so enthralling, it's the characters as well as the plot and Mr Higson is once again, not scared to kill off main characters. This in itself adds to the emotional impact when bad things happen. I found myself getting attached to characters only for them to die, and this really made me feel like my heart had been twisted and on one particular occasion i found myself in floods of tears.

The actual events roll along nicely and i loved how simply growm-up these children were in the face of disaster. Ultimately this book does score one for the kids of the world, showing them in a capable and responsible light, as they manage to get by without adults. Having said that, there is a bit more interaction with the adults in this novel and you get to find out a lot more about the infection and what causes some to get it, some not to and why different people react differently to the disease. The idea is very plausible and the setting is so modern that the possible realism of it scares me to a certain extent.

My favourite characters were Ed and Jack, i loved there complex friendship and how much they both change over the course of the novel. The way they dealt with things was very grown up and extraordinarily mature, probably even more mature than the adults if there were any sane ones left. I thought the story came together nicely at the end and it linked perfectly with the first book, this is most definately a must have for fans of the first book and of survival horror!

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