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Book Review: The Dead by Charlie Higson

By Saturday 2 October 2010Books & Authors

The Dead is a prequel to The Enemy and like most I desperately wanted to find out what would happen to Maxie, Blue and the others on the cliff hanger at the end of The Enemy. I wanted to find out if Little Sam would ever make it back to the group and expected to be disappointed by this book. But I wasn’t, indeed I actually thought The Dead was better than the first!

In this book we meet Jack and Ed from Rowhurst all boys school. As the name suggests it’s a private school, with Jack and Ed being best friends. They fight night after night as the infected, disease ridden, zombie-like adults try to break in to get to them. They are running out of food and water and know that the school is not longer safe, so they decide to look for somewhere else that is safer and has more food and water on offer.

Along the way they meet Mat and Archie who have followers of their new religion with “The Lamb” as their god. Then in crisis with diseased adults at all sides they are saved by a coach driven by an adult named Greg. Greg claims to be immune to the disease – but is he? They meet and join with other kids on the bus including Brooke (a verbally strong girl), Alisha (who only says nice things) and Courtney (that they describe as the “larger” one of their group). The two groups join together to become one, on the bus they are safe. But this new found safety doesn’t last long…

After being forced to flee for their lives the group make it to The Imperial War Museum, finding another group of kids got their first. They make friends with this group, led by Jordan Hunter. Jordan allows them to stay, but they must find their own food. On a scavenge hunt they find a Tesco truck filled with food and after a struggle get it back to the museum. However by this point Jack and Ed’s friendship has been pushed to the limit with Jack calling Ed for being a coward. Jack has a deep longing to go home and decides as it’s close by that it’s now or never.

On the way they find the Oval, which was being protected before the adults got ill. They decide that it must have something valuable inside so go inside to check. This leads to several explosions and a fire that will consume the whole of the east London, where they are. They must get across over to the other side of the Thames river. The only problem? Every other kid needs to get across as well, as it’s the only way to escape the raging fire that now lights up the entire sky helped by the direction of the wind. The diseased adults are behind the kids trying to escape the fire and there’s some blockage ahead on the bridge. What will they do? How will they escape? If the diseased adults don’t get them first, the fire surely will.

Towards the end of the book this is were it starts to fascinate me, it links in with The Enemy and Little Sam’s quest.

I’ve deliberately left out the details of what happens in the story as I don’t want to give spoilers away. Throughout the book what strikes me is the friendship between Jack and Ed as they try to adjust to this whole new world, each using their own way of coping with the stress and constant life threatening situations. From early on in the book you come to like Jack and then as Ed’s character develops turning from “Ed the coward” to “Ed the leader” you begin to like him as well. You gain an understanding of what Jack, Ed and the other characters are feeling and thinking as the book steps in to their thought processes from time to time.

Charlie Higson’s use of excellent description enables you to imagine every scene and the characters perfectly. Indeed at one dark evening walking home, I had to remind myself that it was only a story and there were no shadows in the dark. Charlie’s writing is so easy to read that it makes the story flow along and before you know it, your hooked, desperate to read on and find out what happens. The book has the usual action scenes followed by slower reflective scenes, which add depth to the book.

What I most loved about the book is how it gave me a new set of characters with their own stories but linked in to what had previously been written, adding more information to the over arching story. The Dead seemed to hint at links that will be picked up in the next book. And I do think that when the next book comes out you’ll be able to read The Dead again and see that those links were cleverly placed for the next book.

I utterly enjoyed reading The Dead and The Enemy both of which are available to buy on Amazon.

Another link you might like: Book Review: The Enemy by Charlie Higson.

Write soon,



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