The Dead (Higson novel)
|Country||United Kingdom and the rest of Europe|
|Genre||Horror, Young Adult, Thriller|
|September 16, 2010|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Preceded by||The Enemy|
|Followed by||The Fear|
The Dead is a post-apocalyptic young adult horror novel written by Charlie Higson. The book, published by Puffin Books in the UK on 16 September 2010, is the second book in a planned seven-book series, titled The Enemy. The Dead takes place in London, a year before the events in the previous book (The Enemy, released in the UK by Puffin Books on 3 September 2009),), two weeks after a worldwide sickness has infected adults turning them into something akin to voracious, cannibalistic zombies.
Puffin Books released the third novel in the series, titled The Fear, on 15 September 2011; the fourth novel, The Sacrifice, on the 20 September 2012; the fifth novel, The Fallen, on 12 September 2013; the sixth novel, The Hunted, on 4 September 2014; and the final book, The End, is scheduled to be released in 2015. Disney Hyperion released Higson's short story companion book in the series, titled Geeks vs. Zombies, on June 5, 2012; it portrays an exclusive scene from The Fear, on World Book Day.
The Dead begins a year before the events in The Enemy and two weeks after a worldwide sickness has infected all adults, turning them into zombies. Two 14-year-old boys, called Jack and Ed, are trapped with a group of other schoolboys in the Rowhurst boarding school in Kent, in a remote village a few miles from London.
After escaping from an adult siege of their school, Jack and Ed rescue the French teacher's daughter, Frederique, and attempt to contact several boys inside the school's chapel. Alarmed that there is no reply from inside the church, they break in and find that the boys hiding inside are unconscious from carbon monoxide poisoning; the newcomers manage to revive them. Matthew, a boy who has possibly suffered brain damage from the carbon monoxide, believes himself to be the messenger of the Lamb of God and believes that he must go to St Paul's Cathedral in London. The group splits, with Matt and his "acolytes", including Jack, who wishes to visit his family's house, attempting to go to London, and the rest deciding to go deeper into the countryside.
The group heading for the countryside is attacked by older, infected teenagers shortly after parting from the rest. They are saved by the timely arrival of a motor coach driven by an adult named Greg Thorne. Greg is a butcher who claims he is immune to the disease. With his young son Liam, Greg has acquired a bus and is collecting children to transport them all to London. He and Liam want to visit Arsenal Stadium, unaware that it is an adult nest (as revealed in The Enemy). Along with Liam and the countryside group, several other children are on the bus. Greg turns the bus around to find Jack, Matthew, and the Lamb of God believers, who are all still journeying towards London.
Greg explains that, before the epidemic, he was staying with a farmer and his family, but he had had to kill the father and the older children. He says a younger child, who'd gone crazy after losing his family, "didn't make it", indirectly revealing that he had killed boy and made him into the dried meat he was seen eating, but which Liam refused. The bus halts for the night. Liam realizes that Greg has become infected and can no longer protect him. Greg strangles his son in the night.
The next morning, Greg is inexplicably wearing Liam's glasses. Jack and Ed confront Greg about Liam's death. Greg attacks the kids, while the bus is simultaneously assaulted by several adults. Most of the group escapes from the bus and makes it to the Imperial War Museum in south London.
The "bus party" kids clash with the leader of the museum group, Jordan, who refuses to let them stay in the museum. He later compromises and lets them stay as long as they collect food for themselves. A group sets off, and they explore until they find a Tesco truck full of non-perishable food, with a partially decomposed corpse inside. Whilst they are attempting to get the truck to run, Frederique is surrounded by several adults. The other kids fight off the adults and are surprised to find that Frederique is unharmed. The group manages to drive the truck back to the museum while Jack, Ed, and another boy, Bam, set off to visit Jack's home, where he has been planning to return since the beginning of the infection.
Meanwhile, Matt's religion has gained believers in the museum. They rename the religion Agnus Dei (Latin for "Lamb of God"). Matt foretells that the Lamb will look like a blond boy and will have a darker shadow who is another boy, who must be sacrificed. The new religion attempts to make a banner, but the maker misspells Agnus Dei "Angus Day".
Also at the museum, Frederique attacks Froggie, biting into his arm. She reveals that she is 16 years old and is infected, but her disease took longer to manifest than it did for others. Several of Jordan's kids lock her in a storeroom.
Jack, Ed, and Bam make their way to the Oval Cricket Ground. Outside the stadium are ambulances, military trucks, police cars, and skips filled with dead bodies. The boys explore, finding and keeping several weapons. The entire stadium is full of diseased corpses that were stacked to be burned, as well as numerous bodies seated in the stands, but the law enforcement and medical officials were themselves killed or succumbed to the infection before they had a chance to finish the job. The boys learn not all the bodies are dead ones and are then pursued by adults through the stadium. Jack has a submachine gun he'd lifted from a dead soldier and, whilst trying to fend off an adult, he accidentally shoots a propane tank, causing it to explode and resulting in an avalanche of bodies. Ed is buried underneath the bodies. Jack and Bam are buried underneath the debris resulting from a partially collapsed section of the stadium. Bam mistakes Jack for an adult and shoots him with a shotgun. Jack is badly wounded but able to stand. Ed finds them, and the three boys leave, continuing their trek to Jack's house. In the street, they are ambushed by adults whom the three boys manage to kill, but Greg appears, now fully infected, and kills Bam with a meat cleaver. He then slashes Jack's chest open and cuts the side of Ed's face from forehead to chin. Greg is about to finish off Ed, but Greg flees when Ed mentions Liam.
Ed drags a fading Jack to Jack's home and tries to heal his friend's wounds. However, Jack is beyond repair. Ed takes Jack to his bedroom and spends the night with him. In the morning, Jack has died from his wounds. Ed cremates his friend's body and leaves, headed back to the museum under a spreading cloud of smoke and ash emanating from fire they'd seen earlier in South London.
Soon Ed is ambushed again by adults. He is rescued by David King, Pod, and their group. Together, they all travel to the museum. David warns Ed that a fire is spreading northward, towards the museum, and that they should move.
At the museum, Ed confronts the infected Frederique, who attempts to attack him. She escaped from captivity by gnawing off her own thumb to escape her handcuffs. He defeats her and, against Jordan's advice to kill her so she won't kill someone else, manages to banish her to the streets rather than killing her. Ed holds council with David and Jordan, and Ed and David decide to move to North London. Jordan decides to stay in the museum with his original group.
Ed and David make a deal: in exchange for receiving food from the Tesco truck, on which Ed's group will ride, David's group will accompany the truck on foot, clearing the congestion and debris blocking the truck's path. Armed with additional weapons from the museum, Ed and David lead their respective kids and attempt to cross north across the River Thames via the Lambeth Bridge, fleeing the rapidly spreading fire. Every other kid in South London is also trying to cross the river, and they all struggle to do so due to congestion and a commotion between kids further up the bridge. But a huge wave of infected adults comes up behind the kids from the south, and Ed and several other fighters hang back to fend off the infected to protect the other kids. Frederique reappears and attacks Aleisha, injuring her, and Ed shoots Frederique with a pistol. Ed is helped by another boy named Kyle, and, although the fighters initially seem to be overwhelmed, they are rescued by Jordan and his crew, who had been forced to abandon the museum by adults and the fire.
The fighters realize they must flee, but the way back to the bridge is blocked by a horde of adults. The kids manage to take control of a sightseeing cruise boat moored in the river. They pilot it downstream towards the Tower of London, but Matt hijacks the boat in an attempt to reach St Paul's. He accidentally crashes the boat into the bridge, and it splits in half, causing a number of kids to drown, including Aleisha. Matt and his surviving acolytes are last seen disappearing under a bridge, standing on the top of half of the ruined boat.
Jordan, Ed, Kyle, and the survivors find lifeboats and make it to the river's north bank. They make their way to the Tower of London and enter it by climbing the drainpipes. Inside they find a group of about 30 kids already inhabiting the castle. Frustrated at the leadership of the current leader, Jordan takes control, with Ed as his right-hand man. Of the original group from the bus, only Ed and Courtney remain. The others are either dead, missing, or still with the Tesco truck.
Greg finds himself in Trafalgar Square, where he has lost his shirt. He puts on a St George T-shirt from a souvenir stand and decides to get revenge on those he holds responsible for Liam's death. It is also revealed that he intends to raise an army of adults, setting him up as the "Saint George" adult of the previous novel (The Enemy).
One year later, Ed, Kyle, and Jordan are guarding the Tower of London. Small Sam and The Kid arrive. The Tower group are shocked to see that Sam and The Kid resemble the Lamb and the Goat as portrayed on the "Angus Day" banner.
- Aleisha – A girl student on Greg Thorne's coach, best friends with Brooke and Courtney. Aleisha gets bitten and later drowns, when the cruise boat sinks.
- Archie Bishop – A member of "The Lamb" religion formed by Matthew. At the end of the novel, his fate is unknown.
- Arthur – Wiki's best friend. Arthur is nicknamed "Jibber-Jabber" because he talks constantly.
- Brooke – A girl student on Greg Thorne's coach, best friends with Aleisha and Courtney. Brooke becomes emotionally close to Ed Carter until Greg scars Ed's face. At the end of the book, she is horrified by witnessing David shoot a kid on the bridge, and tells Justin to keep driving.
- Chris Marker – A boy who never stops reading and believes he sees ghosts. He appears to be schizophrenic, as he mentions therapy and "doctors" from earlier in his life.
- Courtney – A girl student on Greg Thorne's coach, best friends with Aleisha and Brooke. Courtney travels with Ed to the Tower of London.
- David King – A posh boy from a private school in Surrey. He rescues Ed and escorts the Rowhurst students across London with his own group.
- DogNut – a boy in the Imperial War Museum group. DogNut is ratty and wiry, and deeply respects Jordan Hordern, for whom he appears to serve as second-in-command.
- Ed Carter – One of the main characters in the book. A handsome, popular boy from Rowhurst and Jack's best friend. He is left with a facial scar after Greg Thorne attacks him with a meat cleaver.
- Frederique Morel – A French girl whom the Rowhurst students find as they escape their school. Frederique develops a romantic connection with Jack, but this is never fully established because she becomes infected, due to her mature age. The Rowhurst students expel her from the Imperial War Museum, and later she reappears at the battle on the bridge and bites Aleisha. Immediately after this, she regains control of herself long enough to let Ed shoot and kill her.
- Froggie – Zohra's brother. The two cute little siblings enjoy chatting with Arthur, Justin, and Wiki. Froggie is bitten by Frederique Morel, but he is fine afterward.
- Greg Thorne/"Saint George" – Father of Liam Thorne; later calls himself "Saint George". Greg is an adult who claims he is "immune" to the disease. He is driving a coach bringing Aleisha, Brooke, and Courtney back to England after the disease breaks out on their school trip to France. South of London, he picks up the Rowhurst students and Frederique Morel. Later he becomes infected, puts on a shirt decorated with a St. George cross, and becomes a leader for infected adults.
- Harry "Bam" Bamford – A student from Rowhurst. Bam is a strong, powerful, enthusiastic rugby player, much respected by everyone because he is the best fighter of the group. He is killed in a fight with Greg Thorne, who attacks him from behind with a meat cleaver.
- Jack – A main character in the book. A student from Rowhurst. Jack is Ed's best friend and dies from multiple wounds sustained when Bam shoots him and Greg stabs him..
- Johnno – One of the Rowhurst rugby players who is killed during the ambush at the Fez.
- Jordan Hordern – The leader of the Imperial War Museum group. Jordan is very interested in war and strategy, and he takes control when his group arrives at the Tower of London.
- Justin – The last of the three nerds. He is put in charge of driving the Tesco truck. He later in the book is in charge of driving with Brooke across the busy bridge.
- Kwanele Nkosi – A fashion-obsessed African student from Rowhurst. Kwanele is cowardly and unwilling to help out with anything for fear of ruining his clothes. Ed Carter is greatly annoyed by this behaviour.
- Kyle – A boy whom Ed meets during the battle on the bridge. He joins Ed's trek through London and serves as his right-hand man at the Tower of London.
- Liam Thorne – Son of Greg Thorne. When Greg realizes that he is not immune from the disease and, because he has become infected, he cannot care for Liam, he strangles his son. Greg then carries Liam's body wherever he goes, until he later drops it from a bridge.
- Malik – A Muslim friend of Ed Carter's, from Rowhurst. Malik is allegedly killed in the ambush at the Fez.
- Matthew – A Rowhurst student who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning at the church. Following the poisoning and the emotional trauma from the disease epidemic, Matthew forms a religion about a boy known as "The Lamb" who make things right. He hijacks the sightseeing boat but crashes it, then floats downriver on its remains, with four acolytes. At the end of the novel, his fate is unknown. (He likely he survived, since the fourth book in the series, The Sacrifice, is stated to focus on Small Sam and "The Kid", who resemble Matt's descriptions of "The Lamb" and "The Goat". Matthew had stated that "The Goat" must be sacrificed so "The Lamb" would have no shadow.)
- Piers – A student from Rowhurst; is one of the rugby players and a friend of Bam's. He is injured early in the novel and dies when Kwanele and Ed leave him at the bus.
- Pod – A boy who serves as head of security for David King.
- The Sullivan Brothers - Twin rugby players from Rowhurst named Damien and Anthony. Both are killed at the Fez.
- Wiki – A small boy who seems to know everything.
- Zohra – Froggie's sister. The two cute little siblings enjoy chatting with Arthur, Justin, and Wiki.
Cultural, historical, and geographical elements
Part of the appeal of The Dead, as with Higson's other books, stems from the author's inclusion of accurate geographic details (e.g., the locations of and attractions surrounding various Tesco stores; Jack, Ed, and Bam's trek from the Imperial War Museum to The Oval; and Ed's "bus party" and the David King group's trek from the Imperial War Museum to the Lambeth Bridge), descriptions of various sites (e.g., the grounds at, public spaces in, and secret basement below the Imperial War Museum), and liberal quantities of historical and pop culture references (e.g., the Great Fire of London (1666) and the Gormenghast series).
- Higson, Charlie (2010). The Dead). Puffin. p. 449. ISBN 978-0-141-38465-8.
- "Is Young Bond Series 2 still a possibility?". Young Bond Dossier. September 24, 2010.
- Berriman, Ian (September 17, 2010). "BOOK REVIEW: The Dead – Charlie Higson ('365 Days Earlier')". SFX.
- Higson, Charlie (September 4, 2014). The Hunted (Paperback ed.). ISBN 9780141336107.
- "A Master Class in Dealing With the Undead". Mostly-Books. September 15, 2011.
- Higson, Charlie (June 5, 2012). Geeks vs. Zombies. Disney Hyperion. p. 34. ISBN 9780141344249.
- "Book Description: Geeks v. Zombies". Amazon.com. 2012.
- Kingsford, Sarah (October 17, 2010). "Review: The Dead by Charlie Higson". Express.
- Middleton, Christopher M (1 April 2011). "Review: A Fresh Take On a Gory Story (Charlie Higson’s zombies are rooted in reality, says Christopher Middleton )". Telegraph.
- "Official website". The Enemy.
- "The Scared Kid Video". The Enemy Official website.