Everyone over the age of fourteen has been turned into a flesh-craving monster, with a taste for teenage meat…The kids that are left are fighting to survive.
Book six of seven. I reviewed Book five here, and went straight on to The Hunted.
In terms of pacing, as a comparison, it took me four days to read the four hundred and fifty pages; it took me a fortnight to read The Fallen (the previous book), which is about the same thickness. What was missing there came back here; the characters are pushing forward even when there’s not much happening.
Higson moves the action out of London entirely for this one, into the countryside west of London. It’s no less dangerous though… Small Sam’s sister Ella and her protectors make a break for the countryside. No spoilers, but it doesn’t end well for some of them.
Ed and some fighters go and look for her to bring her back to London, meeting new groups of kids – some friends and some enemies – on the way. There’s also a group of adults, untouched, who have secrets to tell…
There’s a drawing together here, a tying of loose ends that started five books back with characters you thought were long gone. There are ends tied up here that I didn’t even realise were loose, and Higson is clever and subtle in the way he weaves them back into the storyline. Coming out of it are new plot lines for the final book.
The final battle is about to begin…
Everyone over fourteen has been infected with an illness that makes them crave human flesh…Only the kids are left to fight and survive for themselves…
This is book five in a seven series set. Luckily, I’m reading them back-to-back which helps a lot. There’s no way I’d remember all these intertwining stories with a long gap between them. There are a lot of characters floating around London…
The focus this time is on a group at the Natural History Museum. There’s an infected kid hiding and hunting them, and a second group sets out on a trip to where the disease affecting the adults started, stumbling across a group calling themselves the ‘Twisted Kids’, a teratogenic bunch with odd abilities.
As though sensing that the endless killing of diseased adults is getting a little repetitive after five books (And it is), Higson keeps the death count down and spreads his wings a little, digging into the characters more, exploring their relationships and friendships.
Because of that, this is a slower and more thoughtful read than the other books. The pacing slips a little though, and this feels like it could have been shorter by about twenty pages.
Towards the end, the pacing picks up again when Small Sam re-appears. There’s a monster of a cliff-hanger with his sister Ella, but no spoilers as to what’s going on. I’m glad I don’t have to wait a year for the follow-up though.
As usual, the geography and the world is flawless and the characters (the ones he develops, that is: The rest are sometimes merely second-spear-carrier-on-the-left material) are well thought out.
It felt like a long walk to those closing chapters, but I’m here for the long haul right the way to book seven…Book six is coming next month!