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A Book Review of “The Enemy” by Charlie Higson

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Rose is an enthusiastic writer and reader who publishes articles every Thursday. She enjoys all book genres, especially drama and fantasy.

What’s the Big Deal?

If Charlie Higson’s The Enemy doesn’t ring a bell for you, it’s likely that it will for someone else you know. The series, a seven-book, critically-acclaimed, post-apocalyptic joyride, is a staple in many middle school, high school, and local libraries. And with fellow authors relating it to Stephen King’s The Stand, it’s easy to see why. The first book was released in 2009, and since then a book has been released consistently every year, with even a companion short story, Geeks vs. Zombies, published in between works. Like many popular series, The Enemy is a commitment worth making—and hey, you never know when you might need to use the apocalypse survival information in it!

“The Enemy” by Charlie Higson

“The Enemy” by Charlie Higson

Plot Summary

It’s been a year since the disease hit, and a group of kids living in a Waitrose, UK supermarket are learning how to redefine their lives. The leaders of the group—mainly Aaron, the official leader, Maxie, his second-in-command, Achilleus, the fighter, Ollie, the thoughtful one, and best friends Freak and Deke—are trying to manage survival with scavenging parties, meetings, and new technologies as the brain-dead grownups attempt to pick them off one by one.

But when a scavenging party goes wrong, enough kids are killed that when a stranger named Jester appears in the supermarket, announcing that there’s a safe place for the Waitrose crew, they jump at the chance. The safe place is, interestingly enough, Buckingham Palace—all its previous inhabitants are either dead or diseased, so a large set of kids have apparently taken up a structured and organized residence there. Excited by this idea, the group from Waitrose and another group of kids, the Morrisons, join Jester on the long walk to the palace.

However, only some of the kids end up making it there. And even when they do, it isn’t the paradise they’d hoped for. Although life at the palace is indeed structured and highly developed, the overseer, David, might be more than a little bit power hungry. And if that isn’t bad enough, he’s using that power to demand that the foreigners help “drive out” some other kids who are causing them trouble—really, though, he wants them dead. When Maxie, with the help of the leader of the Morrisons, commands their group to leave the palace once and for all, who will prevail? The good kids, the bad kids, or the enemy?

Quick Info

  • Author: Charlie Higson
  • Pages: 440
  • Genre: YA horror, post-apocalyptic fiction, suspense
  • Ratings: 4.1/5 Goodreads, 5/5 Toppsta
  • Release date: September 2, 2009
  • Publisher: Puffin Books

To Read or Not to Read?

I recommend this book if:

  • You like quick-paced, youth-led series such as Gone by Michael Grant or Suzanne Young’s The Program.
  • You have an affinity for action and fighting (at least in media).
  • You don’t mind it when authors kill off important or particularly interesting characters.
  • Stories of zombies, deadly diseases, or worldwide pandemics are topics that interest you.
  • You’re looking for a series you can read with a friend, or at the same time as someone else (book club, anyone?).
  • You don’t mind gore or graphic descriptions.

There was a reason these boys were still alive, though. Something made them stronger than the other kids, the ones who had died in the early days, who had simply lain down and given up, unable to cope with the terrible things that were happening in the world. These boys were survivors. The will to live was stronger than any other feelings.

— Charlie Higson, “The Enemy”

Reviews

“Intrigue, betrayal and the basic heroic-teens-against-marauding-adults conflict give this work a high place on any beach-reading list.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Thank the higher powers that be, Higson is one hell of an author with an ability to create highly infectious personalities. We’re talking about characters a reader can actually invest in, and begin to genuinely care about. That’s very, very important. . . it’s the one element that genuinely distances [this series] from the rest of the pack.” —Horrornovelreviews.com

Charlie Higson, the book’s author

Charlie Higson, the book’s author

The Takeaway

I’m not a huge fan of book series by any means—the only ones I can honestly get behind are the Dorothy Must Die books, the Chaos Walking and Shadow and Bone trilogies, and maybe The Hunger Games. So I wasn’t expecting a hit when I picked up The Enemy, maybe a mediocre distraction at best—but boy, was I wrong.

The book is grueling. It’s graphic, gory, adventurous, thrilling, captivating, and scary. There’s so many end of the world stories out there, but The Enemy beats them all. It’s an excellent example of what fiction can be, and that books don’t have to be boring—kids everywhere who thought they hated reading have changed their minds with this series. If you’re interested, you can buy the book here.

Comments

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 13, 2020:

The gore and graphic descriptions will prevent me from reading the book, but did a great review. Thanks!