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Literature / The Enemy

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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 everyone over fourteen years old (sixteen in the American editions), turning them into something akin to zombies and forcing kids to fend for themselves while fighting the hordes of "sickos". 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:

  • Accidental Murder: Ed accidentally kills a girl named Louise at the start of The Sacrifice, mistaking her for a grown-up. He keeps this a secret from her partner Tish.
  • 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 became this, with the books even noting that you have to hardened to have survived this long.
  • 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.
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  • Arch-Enemy: Ed and Shadowman both consider Saint George to be this; Ed because he terrorized the group as a human and killed his friends 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, supported by his extensive time spent barricaded in a school chapel.
  • 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.
  • Apocalyptic Log: After the Holloway kids return from Promithios to the church where they left the other members of their group, they find them all dead. Ollie reads Lettis' diary, which slowly describes how they were all wiped out by sickos. Luckily, he is a quick enough reader to realize she is still alive and hiding inside, and rescues her from the flames as the others burn the building down.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Tomoki, leader of the Tower of London kids at the end of The Dead. It is obvious he isn't very effective as a leader, being more book smart than hardy, and Jordan quickly usurps him.
  • 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.
    • Ed's friend Malik seemingly dies early in The Dead, only to reappear in The Hunted as Ella's mysterious disfigured rescuer.
  • 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.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Normally quiet girl Franny impales Just John with a pitchfork in The End after he and his gang invade Buckingham Palace and murder her boyfriend Pod.
  • Black and Nerdy: When he's not being a Scary Black Man, Jordan is this, being interested in war games and tabletop gaming.
  • 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.
  • Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: Bam is the most boisterous and combat-effective of Ed's group in The Dead. He is killed by Greg the butcher at the end of the book.
    • In The Enemy, Josh, a very competent and eager fighter, dies protecting his friends from rabid chimpanzees in Regent's Park.
  • The Bus Came Back: Sophie and her archers reappear in The Hunted as part of the festivies at Ascot.
  • Car Fu: Ed's group use a vehicle to drive through a herd of grown-ups in The Hunted. It works, but one of the grown-ups hides on the roof of the car and mortally wounds Macca when the kids disembark.
  • 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.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Many of the leader characters struggle with their role and the responsibilities it entails, including Arran and later Maxie, after his death.
  • Character Development: Each novel often contains an arc for its protagonists.
    • 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 stoic badass.
    • Courtney, previously unsure how to fight, becomes a staple of the tower crew. She also overcomes her emotional insecurity over the course of The Fear.
    • Brooke becomes unbothered by frivolous things as time goes on, and even becomes very hardened 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.
  • Creepy Child: Blu-Tack Bill, one of the Morrisons crew, a boy who never says a word and always plays with a blob of Blu-Tack. His inner monologue shows he is intelligent and reserved however, having suffered a great trauma in his past.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Lewis, one of Blue's lieutenants, appears dozy and perpetually relaxed, but is very aware of his surroundings and quick to leap into combat when threatened.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Nick, one of the intelligent sickos encountered by Sam in The Enemy, literally explodes from exposure to the sunlight, his skin cooking and splitting and his organs liquefying.
  • Cruel Twist Ending:
    • Maeve, Robbie, Monkey-Boy and Ella leave London together to start a new life at the end of The Fallen. In the very last pages of the book, grown-ups attack and kill all of them except Ella, leaving her alone for The Fallen.
    • Brooke, DogNut and Courtney seem to have solved their problems and happily leave for the Tower together when their group is brutally attacked and only Brooke is left alive, revealing she was the lone girl the Holloway Crew meets from The Enemy.
  • 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.
  • Desecrating the Dead: St. George cuts off Callum's head and puts it on a spike after killing him.
  • Devoured by the Horde: The fate of David and Jester in The End.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Arran dies in Maxie's arms early in the first book. Towards the end of the book, Freak dies the same way.
  • Dirty Coward: Jester, who has no problem with abandoning his friends to survive. Notably, he accidentally cold-cocks Shadowman during a fight and leaves him to be eaten, then when he and Alfie are trapped in a building surrounded by grown-ups, Jester slips out via an easy escape route without telling Alfie, leaving him as a distraction.
  • Disaster Scavengers: How the kids get most of their stuff, although some do attempt to grow their own crops.
  • Downer Ending: The Fear ends like this. DogNut and his crew are attacked by sickos at Green Park, and although they are rescued by the Waitrose crew, everyone but Brooke dies. DogNut's journey across London was all for nought and Brooke is left traumatized.
  • 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.
  • Duel to the Death: One is arranged between Achilleus and Just John at the end of The Enemy. Achilleus wins, but spares his opponent when both of them realize they don't want to kill the other.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Many. This series doesn't skimp on the gore, after all.
  • Fat Bastard: The vastly obese and powerful grown-up known as the Collector, encountered in The Fear.
  • 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.
  • Human Head on the Wall: In the third book in the series, the Collector makes Olivia's severed head into the centrepiece for a macabre collection of body parts.
  • I Fight for the Strongest Side: Both Ollie and Jester advocate this as a means of survival. The difference being that Ollie actually cares for his group and will not betray them, while Jester is an amoral coward who looks out entirely for himself.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. Numerous young children die gruesomely in the series, including Paul's little sister Olivia and little Joel, owner of the cute dog Godzilla.
  • 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 Jerkass 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.
  • Kick the Dog: After Arran's death in The Enemy, Achilleus blames Freak for it, as well as the death of Freak's best friend Deke. He does this without mercy and in a very cruel manner.
  • Kill It with Fire: Used to great effect at the Arsenal ground and the Oval. The Waitrose group also build bombs out of fireworks.
  • Kill the Cutie: Several of the innocent child characters die throughout the series, including Joel in The Enemy, Olivia in The Fear, and Paddy in The End.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: The seemingly-uninfected adult Seamus is killed like this by Ollie in The Fallen. It turns out Ollie had worked out he was masquerading as normal in an attempt to get help entering the facility and preying on the Twisted Kids.
  • Left for Dead: Happens to Shadowman in The Fear, after his supposed friend Jester accidentally concusses him during a fight, before abandoning him to the grown-ups.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Macca is badly mauled by a grown-up in The Hunted just after his crush Brooke jokingly told him she loved him. Even though she was planning to admit the truth and mock him, she allows him to die thinking she cared for him as well.
  • 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.
  • The Medic: Maeve is the medic for the Waitrose crew. Her parents were doctors and she uses her knowledge to treat the kids' injuries.
  • 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-So-Harmless Villain:
    • Just John, leader of the St. James' Park scavengers, seems little more than a mindless thug with a penchant for violence. In The End, he raids Buckingham Palace with his allies, pointlessly murdering Pod.
    • David, leader of the Buckingham Palace kids, seems like an over-ambitious egomaniac with big ideas but who does little. In The End, he personally murders Nicola in a fit of rage and is willing to utilize Paul to control the sickos.
    • Paul, who goes mad after the death of his sister in The Fear, is disregarded by many. He becomes a cannibalistic serial killer who can communicate with the grown-ups, and his actions in the final book nearly cost the kids their victory.
  • 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.
  • Offing the Offspring: In The Dead, Greg the butcher accidentally chokes his son Liam to death while succumbing to the infection inside him.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: In The Enemy, the Waitrose kids encounter a group of kids being attacked by grown-ups at Green Park, killing all but one. It's only in The Fear, an Interquel, that we find out this is DogNut's group, who journeyed across London only to die having accomplished little.
  • 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:
    • The Sacrifice: Brendan (who stole supplies from the Tower of London) and Tish (who brought Sam and the Kid to St. Paul's) redeem themselves in a Heroic Sacrifice at the Wobbly Bridge fighting a horde of grown-ups.
    • The End: 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.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In The Fear, eight kids set out from the Tower of London to search for friends and family members they were separated from while fleeing the fire which engulfed South London early in the crisis. However, they fail to accomplish very much and, by the end of the book, five of them are dead.
  • 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.
  • The Reveal: Several throughout the series:
    • The Enemy: Nick and Rachel are actually cannibals planning to eat Sam.
    • The Dead: Greg the butcher becomes the villain St. George. Frederique is older than she looks and is becoming infected.
    • The Fear: DogNut's group were the kids seen in the first book being killed at Green Park. Paul loses his mind and lets grown-ups into the Natural History Museum.
    • The Sacrifice: Matt is the leader of the religious cult at St. Paul's Cathedral.
    • The Fallen: The infection was manufactured at Promithios, and the Twisted Kids are the children of the original researchers.
    • The Hunted: Faceache is actually Malik, Ed's best friend from the second book.
  • Those Two Guys: Freak and Deke, best friends and graffiti artists in the Holloway crew. Sadly, we don't see them together much. Deke dies in the second chapter he appears in, and Freak dies towards the end of the first book as well.
    • Marco and Felix in The Fear as well.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Ebenezer, one of Ollie's skirmishers, is one of the few characters to express any religious beliefs, other than Matt. Notably, he does not like cooperating with the mutated Twisted Kids, believing they are "ungodly."
    • Malik briefly mentions attempting to continue practising Islam.
  • The Unpronouncable: Boggle's real name (in Polish) is difficult to pronounce, so everyone just calls him Boggle.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the first book, the fates of Rhiannon, Jason and Clair are left unknown. It's likely Rhiannon died from a shotgun wound inflicted upon her by Nick, and considering the other two are prisoners of Rachel, a cannibal, it doesn't look good for them regardless.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The disease drives the infected adults to kill and eat children. However, some are particularly nasty. The Collector, for example, likes to use children as living play-things, breaking their legs to keep them from escaping; when his "games" inevitably result in their deaths, he uses them for food and goes out to collect more. He is finally stopped when DogNut's group and the kids from the Natural History Museum team up to take him down, but not before Olivia (who defies this trope by jumping off the Collector's balcony to keep him from taking her alive) has ended up as part of his macabre display of body parts.
  • Zombie Apocalypse


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