by Charlie Higson, Published by Hyperion, 2009
A book for teenagers about zombies. There is a lot of blood, some dying and zombies eating people. Ew, squicky! It happens in London where all the adults over 16 either died or turned into something similar to zombies. There are some kids who are trying to stay alive against all odds.
You follow a group of kids who have been living in a supermarket. They meet up with other groups of kids and try to get to Buckingham Palace where they are promised a safe utopia in the center of London, but first they have to get there.
“There are two types of leader in this world, Maxie. Wartime leaders and peacetime leaders. And they’re totally different. They need different skills. A wartime leader needs to show no weakness. A wartime leader’s got to show that one or two individuals don’t really matter. What matters is the survival of the group.” (pg 198)
Where did this kid get to be so smart? These poor things learn the hard way as they are picked off one by one. There is no time to be frivolous, or have in-fighting. But they do and they pay for it. Some lead, others follow, and many die.
“We don’t know,” said Maxie. “But we can’t become animals. We’ll be like them.” (pg 225)
It is amazing, the true enemy are the sick and dying grown-ups who want to eat them. But the kids manage to fight, to employ politics, to use each other and to be dumdums who can’t get along. Who is worse? This was a tough book to read for many reasons. The action is nearly non-stop, the tension can be off the charts and Higson isn’t afraid to kill people off. If you like a character, it isn’t guaranteed they are going to make it. I felt so bad for these kids. Many show such heart, such bravery and strength of character for themselves, mainly to help the smaller kids. That is where true heroes are made and this world is so dangerous, many of those heroes fall.
If you don’t like zombie books or can’t stomach kids biting the dust in a myriad of ways, steer clear. But if you do and don’t mind, this is one to pick up. I am interested to see where Higson takes this series and the characters that remain. Some large things are afoot and they aren’t going to be pretty. 4 pustule covered stars, bloated and dripping. Ewwwwww.