The Fear is not on the Carnegie long list. We could have a whole debate about why (But WHY? Do I need to go set up a horror prize? Why should books like this have to have their own prize though? Anyway...) but I just really. Wanted. To. Read. It. I have been quite obsessed with these books since the first one came out in its shiny foil skull covered glory. After the second one came out I was working at Bath Children's Literature Festival so managed to see an event with Charlie Higson and Nick Lake and worked myself into an embarrassing fangirl state in the signing queue. But now my hardback of The Dead says "Don't have nightmares" in it, which is worth it!
The Fear is the third in a series penned by Young Bond author, Fast Show comedian and former UEA student (I'm going to start a list - oh UEA!) Charlie Higson. Already well established as a children's author with the Young Bond series, Charlie took a leap into the world of more grizzly teen/YA writing with much success. Zombies were the new vampires, so they said - I can't agree that zombies have taken off as widely as vamps yet, but they sure have infiltrated many levels of entertainment and often on more of a cultish level. For example the unlikely combination of dystopian steampunk zombie romance Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel.
These books are set in a contemporary London, ravaged by a mysterious disease which has turned everyone over fourteen into a flesh hungry zombie. These zombies aren't just a bit green - they're positively repulsive with rotting bodies, pus filled boils and bits falling off left, right and centre. Charlie demonstrates the look here. The kids featured in the books are bang up to date urban teens, who chat along with slang that even I, modern yoof as I am, didn't always understand. But no worries bruv, I'm no mug and I'm bare down with the speak now.
I don't want to ruin too much of the plot in case you haven't read the other books but I will say this - you have to be prepared for some gruesome deaths and that any character could, at any time, die. Horribly. It's so much fun to watch the kids hole up in some of the big sights in London including the Imperial War Museum, The Tower of London and even Buckingham Palace. Apocalyptic visions are pretty rife in teen fiction at the moment but I haven't read something else set so firmly in an environment I really know, and reading The Fear, I could picture the streets they were walking along, the alleyways the zombies appear from. Endlessly enjoyable.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this latest installment in the series - waiting for the next one is what always gets me as they're completely addictive, fast paced, thrill filled books! I vote we put Charlie and Will Hill to an Xbox off to see who wins and put this zombie/vampire debate to the test once and for all.
The Fear by Charlie Higson is out now in hardback, paperback will be out in April. It follows The Enemy and The Dead in the same series.