Sunday, June 12, 2011

They're coming to get you, Barbara!

Currently reading The Dead by Charlie Higson which is a young adult novel targeted at teenage readers. It's yet another addition to the ever popular Zombie genre. The twist in Higson's book is that everyone over the age of 14 has developed an illness that turns them into rampaging, cannibalistic "Sickos". The young protagonists have to fight for survival as the adults come after them again and again.

I haven't read any of Charlie Higson's other books. I might get to his young James Bond series at some point, I'm quite interested in the various Bond books written by other authors (I'll probably read the new Jeffery Deaver when the price drops). I've heard Higson talk with great affection for the Bond mythos. His description of the Casino Royale re-boot as being an extended pre-credits sequence during which 007 acquires his gun, suit, drink, theme tune and signature introductory name line seemed very apt.

Anyway, back to The Dead and its breathless non-stop sequences of Zombie attack, escape, re-grouping, a brief period of respite and existential angst followed by Zombie attack and rinse and repeat. I admit I'm partial to Zombie movies, comics and TV shows, but they do all share this same pattern. And, of course, they all have an inbuilt pessimistic outcome. You know it's all going to end badly. In recent years the only example that managed to pull off a vaguely happy ending was the rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead.

I may be wrong but The Dead seems set for a more traditionally gloomy ending that will probably set up the third book in the series. There is a sort of Lord of the Flies feel to it with the main characters being boys from a private boarding school (their leader is even called Jack), but I suspect there won't be a rescue plane and a reassuring adult at the end of this book. However there is the usual grim fascination in reading on to find out who survives and who gets chomped on.

I'll tweet when I'm finished and let you know if my opinion has changed.

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