Monday, June 2, 2014

The Fallen by Charlie Higson

Cover art for The Fallen (The Enemy #5) by Charlie Higson
The Fallen (The Enemy #5) by Charlie Higson, pub. April 2014, 502 pg.
Zombie lovers everywhere should be cheering – or, um, groaning? – for Charlie Higson’s YA horror series The Enemy. The fifth and latest installment in the series, The Fallen, hit shelves in the U.S. on June 10. Zombie fans won’t want to miss the latest and greatest addition to this scary series.

The events of The Fallen pick up where the first book in the series, The Enemy, ended. A year after the world has been infected with a mysterious disease that turns everyone over the age of 16 into flesh-hungry zombies, the Holloway gang – Blue, Maxie and all their friends – are headed for London’s Natural History Museum.

When they get there, they find the kids who had taken refuge at the museum are under siege by the infected grownups. After helping battle the bloodthirsty adults, the “geeks” from the museum tell the gang that they are working on a cure, and a nearby pharmaceutical warehouse might have just what they need to end the disease. A harrowing trip and some haunting discoveries follow setting up for some pretty big bombshells in the upcoming final two books of the series.

Most horror novels are aimed at adults, so it was refreshing to read one specifically meant for younger readers. The characters are all in their mid to young teen years, so the pages are packed full of all the tender, angry and idiotic moments all teenagers have. It’s easy to root for the characters, but there are times where you cringe because you know how horribly a plan will backfire or you just want to give them a hug and help them out of their terrible situation.

I absolutely loved the characters in this story. Maxie is amazing – she takes on a larger leadership role in The Fallen, and it’s clear that she cares about all the members of her gang, even the ones who drive her crazy. She’s tough, but she also has tender moments. I love that, while they’re dealing with horrible situations that adults would struggle with, these kids somehow hang on to the scraps of their childhood. They don’t become numb, heartless beings like you could expect. They know what they have to do to survive and they do it, but they still have strong emotions and they still act like kids in the rare moments that they aren’t in immediate danger.

If you’re looking for a YA series that’s packed with action and adventure, this is it. These books are chock full of huge battles, small brawls, narrow escapes and daring missions. Charlie Higson has taken a page out of George R. R. Martin’s book, meaning that absolutely no character is safe. I would personally advise readers to not get overly attached to any character – you never know who will survive to the next page.

Anyone who is a fan of the big zombie craze or who likes to read about dystopian societies should definitely check The Fallen out. Even if you don’t want to pick up the whole series, this book stands pretty well on its own and provides plenty of background so you know what’s happening. The Enemy series is definitely one those who love horror stories will want to pick up.

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