The events in The Dead take place a year before those in Book 1, The Enemy, just after the Disaster.
So, the book starts off in a boarding school a few miles from London, where some fourteen year old boys are trapped in a room surrounded with zombie teachers. After breaking out of the school compound, they manage to rescue another group of boys trapped in a church who almost died of Carbon Monoxide poisoning and a French girl, who falls in love with Jack, the guy who happened to have just killed her zombie father minutes before.
So the motley group now includes football jocks (good at bashing zombies), nerds (good at being smart and geeky), the pretty French girl (good at looking cute and helpless), a fashion-obsessed African guy named Kwanele (good at keeping zombie snot and blood off his clothes) and the group of religious zealots led by a disillusioned (and extremely annoying) boy Matt, whom, since being rescued in the church, had never stopped going on about his vision of the Lamb God and a boy with light hair and a boy with dark hair. They’re good at practically nothing. I guess the Carbon Monoxide really got to his brain.
They soon meet with a huge congregation of adults, but are fortunately rescued by Greg, a strangely un-affected adult driving a bus. However, even without being diseased, Greg the adult is really annoying. (You really wouldn’t want to see him in zombie form.) He is way too protective of his son, Liam, and doesn’t give a heck about anyone else.
But, life on board the bus is still pretty much a party, especially with the addition of three pretty girls, Brooke, Courtney and Aleisha who’d been rescued by Greg earlier. Flirting is an unbelievably good mood-lifter. Yup, life is good. Well, at least until Greg turned into a zombie overnight and strangled his own son.
Everyone escapes the bus, only to meet up with an ever bigger group of adults. Talk about jumping from the pan into the fire. They manage to make their way to the Imperial War Museum, but are nearly chased out by the leader, Jordan, because he does not want the extra burden. In the end, though, he relents and lets them stay, as long as they get their own food. They manage to, after hijacking a Tesco delivery truck stockpiled with food.
Then Jack decides to return home one last time (I have no freaking idea why, it’s just completely brainless) and his good friends Bam and Ed accompany him. They are ambushed by adults (Greg among them) and both Bam and Jack die. I told you it was brainless.
On his way back, Ed meets David King and his gang (yup, it’s him, but without his palace) and return to the Museum where he finds out Frederique has turned into a zombie and a fire is about to ravage the museum.
Half of them go flee the museum in the Tesco truck with David, (bad idea, if you ask me) and the other half hijacks a cruise boat and set sail for the Tower of London. The Truckers get stuck on the overcrowded bridge swarmed by panicked children and are about to get burnt to a crisp until David gets out of the truck and screams at everyone to move. It doesn’t work, so he shoots someone dead with his rifle.
Meanwhile, the guys on the boat were rowing their boat merrily down the stream, but then Matt the idiot suddenly gets it into his head that they’ve got to go to St. James Cathedral (because his Lamb God told him so) and while wrangling for control over the boat, crashes it into a bridge.
Once again, the children find themselves in hot soup, thanks to their own demonic kind. I swear, David and Matt ought to be fed to the zombies. Well, at least Matt was right about one thing- one year later, the prophesied ”Light and Dark” boys emerge at the Tower of London. If you’ve read the first book, you’ll know that they also happen to be Small Sam and The Kid, back from their terrifying escape from the children-eating freak couple Nick and Rachel.
There are lots of book series that start off with a brilliant first book and fizzles out in the second only to disappear into oblivion, but rest assured, this is not such a book series. The Dead is every bit as exciting as The Enemy, if not more so.
The book has its own fair share of gory moments and disgusting adults- the scene where Greg strangles his own son and wears his spectacles sent shivers down my spine the same way Nick and Rachel did in the first book.
In my opinion, the characters in this book were way more fun to read about than in the first book, because they were far more diverse compared to the relatively similar personalities in the Waitrose and Morrison gang. It was interesting to see how everyone, nerd, jock, cheerleader (well, I’m guessing that’s what Brooke, Aleisha and Courtney were before the world collapsed) had their own unique strength that helped them survive, against all odds.
And the best part about the book is that it keeps you on your toes all the time. When you’re pretty sure nothing more could possibly happen, Charlie Higson unleashes a mega twist to the story and you’re left hanging off the edge of a cliff, hyperventilating.
I still have the same quarrel I had with the first book, which is that important characters die in the stupidest, most unglamorous ways imaginable. One of my favorite characters in the book was Jack, the seemingly moody, tough guy with no qualms (even at the beginning) about knocking dents into what used to be Mothers and Fathers in order to survive, but inwardly he was kind-hearted and gentle. Yeah well, he died. But I guess you can’t name your book The Dead and not be prepared to kill off about half your characters.
9.0/10 Because it is so fantastic, I’m willing to ignore all the dead bodies of what used to be my favorite characters lying strewn on the zombie infested streets.
Click here to read the review on the first book.