The Enemy – Page 82

The enemy Charlie Higson bookAnother day and yet even more time for some post writing. Well hurrah for that. Yesterday’s daily post was based around an image; today’s daily post is based on a sentence.

“Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow.”

Well, I am currently reading The Enemy, by Charlie Higson, which is about a virus that has destroyed nearly . The remaining children band together to survive the world and the remaining adults, who are now a sort of plague-ridden horde roam the earth. It’s rather good, and has a sort of Lord of the Flies feel to it.

Anyway, the third sentence on page 82 is…

“There was only one thing it could be – a grown up.”

…which after my brief description of the book makes sense.

That is what the children in the book call the mutant  grown-ups. It’s as if the natural underlying fear that most children have towards adults has been entirely justified, they are grown-ups and this is what grown-ups are, so why think of a new name for them. The virus did not touch anyone below the age of 14, so they’re aren’t even any older children.

The grown-ups in the book are cannibals, and although their appearance is certainly less than healthy they are not dead, they can be killed and they’re not zombies so they do not come back to life. These grown-ups are something to fear for anyone especially children.

What i find interesting is that the book draws on the concept that even children have an ability to self-manage and to form communities, in a very similar way that adults do. It could be easy to assume every child is nothing but a child, and that without adults they would simply curl up and starve to death but The Enemy shows that they are just as capable of surviving as adults are.

For example, when we meet the children in the book they are all holed up in an old Morrison’s store (a rival gang is based at Waitrose.) they have created a rudimentary sanitation system, there are warriors who go out and scavenge for supplies. Later on in the book we meet more children who farm, or work as nurses.

It also brings into question what should be considered normal activity in times of survival. Killing a monster who is trying to eat you is a no-brainer, but what happens when children from a rival settlement trespass or accidentally kill someone or something they weren’t suppose to. What happens when the lines get blurred, and judgment calls have to be made?

I am curious to know what will happen to their civilization when a member of their own community commits a crime; will they seek a democratic solution or a brutal more physical punishment? Will children en mass react any differently than adults en mass who let’s be frank have been known to lynch mob and riot in times of heightened emotions.

The book has raised interesting questions for me, maybe because I haven’t read something where children have been in a survival / no adults situation since I read Lord of the Flies as a child, and all I can remember from that was the conch shell and Piggy having his glasses broken. Wasn’t there also a parachutist stuck in a tree?

Have you read any books recently that have really made you think?

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