The Enemy, by Charlie Higson
You know how some movie reviews say, “This film grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go”? Well, The Enemy does that in book form. I was hooked from the very beginning of this dark and somewhat disturbing story. It is set in London a year after everyone over sixteen falls victim to an unexplained illness. The adults who did not die are now zombie-like, killing and eating whatever they can to survive, and their kids are left to fend for themselves.
A band of kids are using the Waitrose grocery store as their home base, and they have turned it into a fortress. They send out parties to scavenge for food, which is becoming harder to find, and they must fight roving bands of zombies, whom they call “Grown-ups.” Don’t get too attached to any particular character, even if they seem to be one of the main protagonists, as the death toll is high. It gets even higher when Waitrose is visited by a kid they have never seen before, who claims to be from a similar entrenchment of kids at Buckingham Palace. The Waitrose kids, along with a group of kids similarly holed up in the nearby Morrisons grocery store, decide to abandon their stores and attempt to travel to the palace, where survival is promised to be much easier. And it’s not necessarily a suicide mission. As one character says, “The thing about grown-ups is, some of them are strong, some of them can run fast, and some of them are clever, but the strong ones are slow, the fast ones are stupid, and the smart ones are weak.”
I had to push past a particular incident very early on featuring the kids taking on a pack of feral dogs, but I can tell you dog-lovers that this is the only instance of canine violence in the story. There is plenty of human violence, however, and fans of Michael Grant’s Gone series and the Hunger Games series will find similarities here: kids in peril fight for survival in a world where adults can no longer help them.
Check the WRL catalog for The Enemy.