Dystopian fiction seems to be the new craze in YA literature, and I couldn't be happier! I've come across some astoundingly good stories in the last few months. This week I'm looking at one of the most brutal: The Dead, by Charlie Higson.
The basic premise of the book is that only children under the age of fourteen survive a disease which turns everyone else into flesh-hungry maniacs who would be best described as Zombies, although they aren't dead.
It is left to the children to survive and try to rebuild as much as they can. The book follows a group of young boys at a school where their teachers have turned on them. It is interesting to follow their struggle and I found myself feeling all of their pent-up, edgy frustrations with their broken world. We journey with them as they escape their school into the nightmarish streets of London, where all hell awaits them.
I don't want to give away too much of the plot but I'll say it's gripping stuff! What is so spectacular about this book is how very grim it is. Higson pulls no punches with his writing and I love that he respects the YA audience enough to be honestly dark with them
In the book, fathers kill sons, parents eat the flesh of their children, the "Sickos" gnaw at their own flesh in efforts to get to the more tasty treat of young human flesh. Beyond the sickness, we see the fragile line of sanity which the boys walk as they are forced to kill, cheat, confront the seemingly insane ravings of a boy "prophet" and make terrible decisions, all in order to survive.
The story...the sickness... begins with a video posted on youtube. The video of "The Scared Kid".
I thoroughly recommend this book, which is also, by the way, the prequel to The Enemy, another amazing read!