The Fear by Charlie Higson is the third in The Enemy series (the first being The Enemy and the second The Dead).
The opening chapter describes The Collector and his search for new “toys” which we quickly discover means kids. This really sets the tone of the book. It it is different from The Enemy & The Dead, rather than just focusing on the children this book gives an insight in to the mothers and fathers, grown-ups, strangers – the diseased adults as well.
I got a little worried when after the opening chapter a page states: The action in this book begins five days before the incidents described at the end of The Dead. Having read The Dead when it first came out over a year ago, I was worried that I’d have to go back and re-read it before I could enjoy and understand The Fear. My worries were soon put at rest as I started to read. Charlie (Higson – the author) gives enough information about the characters and the events that have happened to them so that even if you hadn’t read any of the previous books in the series you could pick it up and have an enjoyable read. If you have read the previous books you’ll see the links to The Enemy & The Dead and it is these links that help you remember what has happened the previous two books as well as contribute to the over-arching story.
The story starts in The Tower of London with Dognut, Courtney, Marco, Felix, Al, Fin, Jessica and Olivia deciding to go in search of the others they lost at Lambeth Bridge a year ago. They all have their own individual motivations. Dognut wants to find Brooke (a mouthy girl who he fancies); Courtney (one of Brooke’s best friends) is going to show she can be strong and brave to Dognut who she fancies and can’t decide if she wants to find Brooke or not; Marco & Felix are going for adventure, Al is looking for his little sister Maria, Fin to look for some of his friends from Rowhurst (a private school from one of the previous books); Jessica because she’s just split up from her boyfriend and wants to be away from him and finally Olivia who wants to find her brother Paul. They travel up the Thames by row boat, to avoid the diseased adults and stop when they see a group of children in Westminster at the Houses of Parliament.
Their boat unfortunately sinks and they are met by the leader of this group Nicola, elected by the other children as Prime Minister. They ask about the people they are searching for but they don’t know anything. Nicola is also oddly suspicious of them. They ask about David and Nicola tells them that David has taken up residence at Buckingham Palace, but that he can’t be trusted. Dognut and the group know they must travel by foot and that it will be dangerous. Nicola gives then a good meal and water. At the gates to The Houses of Parliament once the gates are open a group of kids barge in. They claim to be looters and begin to pick on a kid called Bozo whose on the gate. Dognut doesn’t like seeing Bozo getting bullied and after a few exchanges the looters are fended off by Dognut and his group. It turns out these looters are from St. James Park and are led by a psycho child John.
Dognut and his group set off and at first all is fine. Until they see a large group of disease ridden adults. They get cornered in a dead end of a side street. They know there are too many to fight but as they’re out of options that’s what they do. Then another group of children save them and send the adults off running. This other group describe themselves as “hunters” and stated they are mercenaries that for payment from the settlements of kids they clear the streets of the adults killing as many as possible. Their leader Ryan. Dognut states that his group are on their way to Buckingham Palace and Ryan explains that he doesn’t like David (the self appointed King) as he never paid them for some work they did for him. They urge Dognut to be careful and offer to get his group to Buckingham Palace safely – free of charge.
Dognut and his gang arrive at Buckingham Palace and are introduced to David and his right hand man Jester. David claims that he doesn’t know where Brooke is. To make things worse David tells the group that Brooke abandoned them and didn’t share the loot on the back of the Tesco lorry in The Dead. Dognut’s group ask about their friends and family are looking for and David reveals that Maria (Al’s little sister) is there. Maria tells the group that Brooke and some of the others have made Natural History Museum their home. Dognut finds away over Buckingham Palace walls and all but Al (who chooses to stay with his little sister Maria) escape and head to the Natural History Museum.
While all this going on their’s a kid whose an observer and his name is Shadowman. Shadowman is a great addition to the story being generally a loner and gives Charlie (Higson – the author) a different method of telling the over-arching story whilst telling Shadowman’s story as well.
As Dognut and his group make their way to the Natural History Museum, David decides he needs kids that can fight and sends Jester on his way to find some. David makes an agreement with Nicola (from Parliament) that if he can rid St. James Park of the looters that they will join forces and rule together. David not just thinking about their part of London, or the whole of London but all of England. David’s dastardly plan is for Jester to find kids that can fight to clear St. James’ Park of the rough, looter kids living there. Whatever the group of kids there had always been the rule: Kids don’t harm kids. The ememy are the grown-ups.
This twist gets you thinking, who are worse? The different groups of children plotting against one another (who have their minds intact) or the adults (who are acting with twisted minds because of illness). This is exactly what Charlie Higson (the author) wants you to ask yourself. Indeed it could be said that the theme of the book is about human nature and our nature to be selfish, greedy, power-seeking, even if that means the death and destruction of other human beings.
On the way to the Natural History Museum unfortunately Olivia gets killed by The Collector (the group do later go back and kill The Collector in what could be seen as a revenge attack). Dognut and his group arrive at the Natural History Museum and they finally find Brooke and the geeks. Brooke’s changed a lot in a year, less mouthy (reporting that she had grown-up), short brown hair (her bottle blonde having grown out as the year passed) and wearing old fashioned clothing from the Museum. The kids catch up and Dognut tells Paul (Olivia’s brother) what happened. Paul is distraught about learning of the death of his sister. Brooke reveals why she left David behind instead of sharing the loot from the Tesco lorry – because David shot a kid on Lambeth Bridge when the kid refused to move.
In the Chapters that follow Greg makes an appearance (the clever diseased adult from the The Dead) as The Fear begins to link The Enemy and The Dead together. Jester meets the Waitrose and Morrisons crew led by Blue and Maxie and it was at this point that I started to realise how clever of a writer Charlie Higson is.
Dognut and his group decide to head back to The Tower of London with Brooke going with them. But on the way the group are attacked by grown-up’s and are forced to seek refuge in a tube station, but this is exactly where other diseased adults like to live as it’s dark. They are quickly overwhelmed but then are saved by Blue and Maxie’s gangs. Out of Dognut’s group only Brooke survives, and she is taken to Buckingham Palace to the infirmary. Luckily David and Jester doesn’t recognise her. Blue and Maxie are quick to join her in the infirmary after clashes with the rough looting kids from St. James’ Park. David intends to keep them both in the infirmary so that he can take control of their groups.
While all this is going on Shadowman has observed that the diseased grown-up’s seem to be getting leaders – the more clever ones of the group. He realises that the more intelligent leaders can use tools (such as knifes and sticks) and that there is quickly becoming an army of diseased adults following these leaders.
Back at the infirmary at Buckingham Palace Brooke tells Blue and Maxie the truth about David. Meanwhile Paul (Olivia’s brother) still bereaved goes to David and Jester slightly mad talking about how he can’t trust anyone at the museum. David and Jester convinces Paul that they had caused Olivia’s death and Paul agrees to go back to the Museum and release the diseased adults from the basement to set them loose on the kids. Paul tries to strangle one of the guards but fails. While the kid guarding the locked door comes round Paul pulls down his polar neck and reveals a bite from an adult – which is how the disease is spread. Paul opens the door and let’s the grown-ups loose to get the kids in the museum.
The book ends there and I can’t believe I have to wait over a year for the next part of the story. I received the book from Amazon on a Saturday afternoon and had finished it within twenty-four hours. It truly is an addictive page turner, especially if your into diseased adults and kids making an attempt at surviving the blood thirsty adults.
You can read my reviews of the other two books in the series here: