The Fear, by Charlie Higson, is the third volume in his zombie series – The Enemy.
In this volume, the story continues to get richer and broader. Rather than take a traditional approach to a series, in which the action progresses in a linear fashion; i.e. this happened, and then after that, this happened, the action in each successive book takes place at all kinds of different times. The action in the second book takes place a year before what happens in the first book for example. In this book, the story takes place five days before what happens in The Dead.
All the stories eventually interweave, and the narratives cross and recross as the story builds. In this way, the story becomes richer all the time, as events and details drop into the time line, expanding and building the picture of what it is like to be a child in a post apocalyptic London, ravaged by flesh eating zombie adults.
The premise, as with the other books, is that some kind of disease/virus that nobody really understands, has decimated the adult population, infecting everyone over the age of fourteen. Those who have not died from the disease are mutated into mad, shambolic, flesh eating zombie creatures, whose only peace is found by eating the flesh of undiseased children.
This story follows Dognut and Courtney, who appear in The Dead, as they set off across London from the Tower of London, with a small band of friends. Each of them has a different purpose in making the journey, some to find friends, some to try to find family, and other, deeper reasons, like trying out leadership, or being in love.
As they cross London, the children bump into other gangs of survivors, and as they do, they learn more about each other, about what has happened, and what the world they are trying to survive in will throw at them.
I don’t want to give too much away, as the thrill of the book are the unexpected twists and turns the plot takes, which make it much, much more than a straightforward horror story. The intelligence with which the books are written, and the knitting together of the different time lines, and characters from the other books really bring this series to life and make it exceptional.
As before, it is very violent, and only suitable for teenagers in terms of subject matter. It is suitable for both boys and girls, with strong plot lines for characters of both sexes.
One of the things I particularly love about this series is the way that London is such a big part of the story. The books roam across London, from landmark to landmark, and the way they’re used totally changes the way you will think about them from now on.
Charlie Higson’s website is here, and on the book page, you will find a time line for the events of the books, should you be starting to get confused. Obviously, if you haven’t read all the books yet, the time line will contain spoilers. You have been warned.