The Fallen is the fifth novel in the zombie series, The Enemy by Charlie Higson.
The other four books in the series consist of: The Enemy, The Dead, The Fear and The Sacrifice.
There are scheduled to be seven books in the series by the time it is completed. The last of which is slated to be titled; The End.
I have blogged about other books in this series here before. I was going to save The Fallen, because the sixth book in the series is not scheduled to be released until the Autumn of this year (2014) and I didn’t want to wait on the edge of my seat for the next few months until being able to see what happens next.
I failed to be patient, and read the whole book last night in one sitting.
I love this series, and this book is as good as any other in the series so far.
You will need to have read the other books in the series before you try this one, or none of it will make much sense to you at all. In an interview, Higson stated that he was going to suggest different ways that readers could eventually read the novels out of sequence and still make sense of events, but for now, I’d stick to starting with the first one and working your way through them, although as you read you will see that his non linear narrative means that it would be possible to come up with some other sequence of reading that might prove equally rewarding.
The non linear narrative is one of the things I find so appealing about the books. At the beginning of each novel he tells you what time frame this book operates in, in relation to the other books in the sequence. If you find yourself struggling, there is a time line available via Charlie Higson’s website, although if you haven’t read all the books before you look at the timeline, it will obviously contain spoilers.
In this book we are re-introduced to the characters we meet in the first book; the girls and boys who were, in book one, holed up in Morrisons and Waitrose on the Holloway Road. The merging of their two factions and their danger fraught trip across London is described in the first novel, and there we leave them until now, when we finally get to find out what happened to them. We also piece together more about what happens to various other characters who have appeared in the subsequent volume, and in this novel, the mystery of the disease/plague that has caused the adults to become flesh eating predators is explored in more depth.
This is not a book that is suitable for pre teen readers unless you’re very confident in a) their reading ability b) their ability to work out non linear narratives over a long period of time and c) their nerves. It is very, very violent and the descriptions of battles with the adults are extremely graphic. There is also a great deal of death in the book, not all of it zombie related, and much of it emotionally very distressing.
I would recommend it to children aged twelve and up, possibly slightly older.
The thing that separates these books from the usual, run of the mill horror stories that are churned out in droves for children, is that they are extremely well thought out. They are emotionally engaging, the characters are brilliantly drawn and become totally real to you, which is what makes it so difficult to take when something happens to them. Higson does not shy away from brutality, but he always makes sense of it, looking into a character’s past or their emotional make up to show us as readers what it takes for the children to do the things they do.
The books are probably pitched more at boys in terms of marketing, than girls, but there are plenty of strong girl characters in the novels and I would say that if zombie/horror is your thing then these books are equally strong in their appeal to both sexes.