The Sacrifice by Charlie Higson is the fourth in the zombie series The Enemy. The first book: The Enemy, is reviewed here. The second book; The Dead, is reviewed here. The third book; The Fear, is reviewed here.
The books are all concerned with a virus/plague that has swept through the world, killing off everyone over the age of fourteen. Those who survive it are altered irrevocably by it, rotting slowly and turned into zombie creatures who prey on the flesh of children. The books each tell the stories of survivor children, either singly or in bands, and how they manage to survive together, fighting the zombies, and sometimes each other, to try to create a new life for themselves.
The books are set in London and show the children moving across a post apocalyptic city landscape as they make camps, group together, disband and fight for their lives. Rather than taking the narrative in straight linear fashion, each book threads into the books that have preceded it, inching the story along in time only slightly, but enriching the initial story so that the reader is drawn deeper, and deeper into the world the children inhabit.
The writing is excellent, the plot is thoughtful, stylish and clever and the books are gripping in the way they tantalise you with a little more information every time you read. The picture is always building, and in each book there are at least a handful of lightbulb moments where you suddenly make the link with something that has happened in a previous book.
This book is my favourite of the four so far. It is by far the most revealing of the four, not just because it builds on the stories that have gone before, but because it gives new information about the enemy the children are fighting and they suddenly become much more than shambling cannibalistic puppets.
I’m not giving anything else away, because the real thrill is reading the books themselves and just not being able to put them down.
As I have said in previous reviews, these books are very violent, extremely graphic and not at all suitable for children. They are strictly in the YA/Teen genre, and I would not recommend them to anyone under the age of twelve, and I’d hesitate to go as young as twelve unless I was sure they had very strong stomachs.
The books, as ever, are written with pleasingly strong characters of both sexes and I recommend them to both boys and girls.
Charlie Higson’s website is here, for more information on the books. There is a time line available so you can see what happens when, but it will, of necessity, contain spoilers if you haven’t read the other books, so I would advise you not to look until you’re up to date, unless you don’t mind finding out what happens before you read.
Higson’s next book: ‘The Fallen’ is out in September 2013. I rate them so highly, my copy is already on preorder.