Literature / The Enemy

The Enemy is a series of post-apocalyptic young adult horror novels written by British author Charlie Higson, also the author of the Young Bond series.

The books take place in London after a worldwide sickness has infected adults and turned them into something akin to zombies. The first book, The Enemy, was published in 2009. Following it are The Dead (2010), The Fear (2011), The Sacrifice (2012), The Fallen (2013), The Hunted (2014), and the final book, The End (2015).

Though The Enemy starts off with as a simple Zombie Apocalypse tale, an ever-expanding cast and sprawling plot make the series more complex. Likewise, with Anyone Can Die in full effect from book one, just getting from point A to point B can be suspenseful.



Tropes associated with this book:

  • Achilles in His Tent: Achilleus locks himself in his room partway through The End after a disagreement with Jordan. It takes the deaths of Paddy and several other kids to bring him out.
  • Action Girl: Plenty of these in each book; Maxie, Courtney, and Jackson are notable examples.
  • Action Survivor: All of the kids who lasted more than a few weeks after the illness started are this.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: In The End, David and Jester receive rather pitiable deaths, with David crying for his mother and Jester hugging him as the now uncontrollable sickos surround them.
  • Arch-Enemy: Ed and Shadowman both consider Saint George to be this; Ed because he terrorized the group as a human and killed Jack and Bam upon getting infected, and Shadowman because he has extensively dealt with the sicko army and watched George commit numerous atrocities against other kids.
  • Arc Villain: Just John is an antagonist for a few late chapters in The Enemy. He pops back up as this toward the finale of The End.
    • In The Fear, a woman similar in nature to Saint George (able to wield weapons, withstand sunlight, and command her own sicko army) is prominently featured throughout the story.
    • Mad Matt and his followers are main antagonists in The Sacrifice after several books of buildup. They mostly mellow out after the conflict resolves.
  • Artistic License Religion: Although not exactly Christianity, Matt's religion is heavily plagiarized from the Bible.
  • Anyone Can Die: Applied liberally throughout the series. Although some characters get more plot armour than others, the decentralized storyline with multiple protagonists means no-one is safe.
  • Ascended Extra: A lot of characters who start out as minor become POV characters in later books. DogNut in particular is the main protagonist of The Fear after being introduced as a side character in The Dead.
  • Asshole Victim: David, Just John, and Saint George in The End.
  • Ax-Crazy: Matt is introduced as a relatively sane boy, but he goes completely off the deep end in religious fervor after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning and being bitten, as revealed in The End. While he is mostly harmless for the majority of The Dead, he gradually undergoes more Sanity Slippage and starts feeding children to Wormwood in The Sacrifice under the belief that God is telling him to.
    • Paul Channing starts out as a quiet kid who is justifiably devastated over the death of his sister, but an infected bite, Sanity Slippage, and David and Jester manipulating him turns him into a cannibalistic serial killer. Then it's revealed that he can control the sickos and it only gets worse.
  • Badass: Almost everyone who lasts past the first two books is one.
  • Badass Gay: Achilleus is outed in The End.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: How most of the kids get their hands on weapons. This causes some difficulty as even when they get their hands on guns, ammo is very limited.
  • Big Bad: Saint George, aka, Greg, the butcher from the second book, an intelligent and ruthless adult gathering an army of the undead to storm London.
  • The Cavalry: Sophie's group in The Enemy, the group from the Imperial War Museum in The Dead, and both Ryan's group and the massive alliance Ed set up in The Hunted in The End.
  • Character Development: Ed struggles with zombie killing at the start of The Dead, but after Jack and Bam are killed by St. George he starts his slow rise to being a Bad Ass. Brooke also changes after DogNut's demise at the end of The Fear.
  • Children Forced to Kill: Mostly they're killing Zombies, but there's some debate over the killing of other kids, especially those who are seen as disruptive to the society the various leaders are trying to build.
  • Co-Dragons: Saint George has four lieutenants who are more intelligent than the average sicko. Shadowman gives them nicknames based off of their defining characteristics: Bluetooth is wearing an earpiece, Man U has a Manchester United shirt, The One-Armed Bandit has one arm, and Spike is pierced with one of Shadowman's arrows.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Brooke, though Character Development tones this down.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Arran is set up to be the protagonist, but he dies a little over a hundred pages into the first book. There's also Jack in the second book, who is set up as the main protagonist (it's actually Ed), but is wounded by a stray bullet and finished off by the zombified Greg around the halfway point.
  • Devoured by the Horde: The fate of David and Jester in The End.
  • Dirty Coward: Jester, who has no problem with abandoning his friends to survive.
  • Disaster Scavengers: How the kids get most of their stuff, although they do attempt to grow their own crops.
  • The Dragon: Jester is this to David. He starts to become a Dragon with an Agenda toward the end, but never has the courage to go through with it.
  • Faux Affably Evil: David has an extremely superficial facade of politeness that goes away the second he's pissed.
  • Gardening-Variety Weapon: Franny impales Just John with a pitchfork in The End.
  • The Hero Dies: Arran, Jack, and DogNut are all set up to be main protagonists, but they die over the course of the first three books.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. Numerous young children die gruesomely in the series, including Paul's little sister Olivia.
  • Jerkass: David King and Einstein are probably the biggest, though Einstein is at least on the side of the heroes. There's also Harry from The Hunted, though he has a Redemption Equals Death moment.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Many of the more ruthless characters come under this, particularly David. His methods and personal ambitions place him firmly into Jerk Ass territory, but his goal to unite the kids in order to rebuild is a good one. Until he goes so far as to take control of the horde through Paul and shoot Nicola In the Back for not being his girlfriend.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Achilleus, Jordan, Brooke, and many others. Greg Thorne was one until the infection got the best of him.
  • Karmic Death: The End sees multiple antagonists meet this after multiple books spent unpunished. Jester strangles Paul and watches him rot alive from his hidden infection, and with the zombies now out of their control, Jester and David are then Devoured by the Horde. Just John is impaled with a pitchfork after raiding Buckingham Palace. Finally, Saint George himself is decapitated by Ed and, after somehow getting up again, finished off with one of Shadowman's bolts.
  • Kill It with Fire: Used to great effect at the Arsenal ground and the Oval. Also the firework bombs at Waitrose.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Book one isn't so bad, but as the chronology becomes more complicated and more factions show up, the cast swells. Some important characters take a back seat for multiple books. Notably, in The End, main series protagonist Ed doesn't even get back into the conflict until the final chapters.
  • The Load: Frequent with the younger kids, but Olivia is a particularly notable example. It would have made far more sense for them to have left her behind and brought news from the expedition back to her.
  • Mauve Shirt: Many characters end up being ones.
  • Mercy Kill: At the end of The End, Jester strangles Paul to death and Paul thanks him for it. After seeing how horribly rotted he is on the inside, it's not hard to see why.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: David threatens Ed with Ed's gun. When he asks Ed why he wasn't afraid David would shoot him, Ed explains that the gun wasn't loaded.
  • Off with His Head!: Ed seemingly kills Saint George in this way...but his headless body suddenly gets up and continues to fight until Shadowman puts him down for good with a crossbow to the chest.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Dog: Goes both ways, in the first book stray dogs are shown as being a threat to the Waitrose crew's scavenger expeditions, but they are also a sort of food. In later books the hunters are shown to be keeping dogs for tracking and attack purposes.
  • Redemption Equals Death: After finally committing a truly selfless action by killing Paul to stop his control over the sickos, Jester is killed alongside David.
  • Sad Clown: DogNut is shown to have a lot of issues that he keeps hidden behind his Plucky Comic Relief exterior.
  • Sanity Slippage: Matt and Paul get it the worst.
  • Simultaneous Arcs: Each book focuses on different groups of survivors in London, and many events overlap.
  • Shout-Out: Higson doesn't hesitate to reference other YA authors or works, which is part of what gives the series its sense of authenticity. Examples include Harry Potter, and the works of Robert Muchamore and Cathy Cassidy.
  • Technically Living Zombie: It's pointed out several times that what the kids are fighting are actually victims of a virus, not reanimated corpses, but this doesn't stop them from being referred to as such. The only one who subverts this is Saint George, who continues to move and fight without his head until Shadowman finishes him off.
  • Teenage Wasteland: Everybody over 14 has the illness, although those who turn 15 after the outbreak seem to be unaffected, meaning this isn't a permanent state of affairs. This is ultimately revealed to be because the disease initially spread worldwide and lay dormant in adults' bodies before the current youths were born. Saint George's goal is to bring all of the sickos together to spawn a new wave of the disease.
  • Zombie Apocalypse

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