Caroline's Reviews > The Dead

The Dead by Charlie Higson
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's review
Apr 09, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, zombie, dystopia

The Dead is the amazing prequel to The Enemy. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this. I absolutely love series, but I particularly love series where each book is different from the others and which you can read also as a stand alone novel. The Dead is set in the same world as The Enemy, but not only are there new characters in the book, but there are also very different themes and actions. It is an absolutely brilliant book, I haven't been able to put it down and I was completely fascinated by the plot!

The Dead is set a few days after the strange epidemic has killed the majority of the adult population in the UK (but as we come to know in this book, in the rest of Europe as well) and turned a minority into “zombies” - children-eating animalistic-looking monsters. We follow a group of boys from a school who had been hiding in their dorm rooms during the events. They were at first helped by teachers, but they soon became hungry zombies themselves. After some painful moments, they decide to move from the school and try to find a better shelter and some food elsewhere. The eternal debate over countryside vs. London took place and in the end London won.

They meet other kids on the way and some very resisting adults who seem immune to the disease. I really found that the book was an amazing vision of human nature. Though some episodes were clearly gory (incredibly so) it is a work of undeniable genius balancing between the fun, the horror and the originality.
Some kids are very brave, others are so deeply afraid of the situation that they get sometimes paralysed. But one of the biggest lessons in the book is that you are not naturally brave, some might be more inclined than others but facing the unpredictable events, some characters just grow a pair during the action even though they would have been considered cowards at the beginning of the story. (Oh dear did I just say “grow a pair” in my review?!)
The new group of characters present in the book are all very interesting and I find that Charlie Higson is just so talented in bringing those very typical and various teenage personalities from today's world to this horrible situation. The moment where they recall their cell phones and the films they used to watch is just priceless.

The religious aspect of one part of the plot seemed slightly weird and out-of-place at first. Not in the sense that I didn’t like that it was written in the story, just that I strongly disliked some of the characters and would have chopped their heads off had I been present in the action. But throughout the book, it did make me think about religions in general. I think that Charlie Higson has, in an absolutely brilliant way, introduced the question of the beginning of a religion. Ok so someone who does believe in God might have a different opinion on this than mine, but the book really does raise the debate in a very unique and original way and makes you think about things.
there is also an interesting character having a very interesting vision on history and the power of the written words versus the entire world which just collapsed. A question has been nagging me: is it just a coincidence if he is named Chris Marker like the French director/photographer? If you have the answer, tell me!!

The Dead is a brilliant book and even though some might not like the gory parts, I really feel the series will soon become a horror classic in Young Adult literature. Between Dystopia and Horror, the story will appeal to many, so get started on the series!
I definitely want to read more about all this and I can’t wait for the next book in the series to know what will happen!!

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