Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Published: June 19th 2014
“Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her ‘our little genius.’
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.”
This post will contain very mild spoilers about the main plot point, but it’s something that’s discussed pretty early in the book anyway. It won’t at all ruin the experience of reading the novel for yourself!
The Girl With All The Gifts is an unconventional story of a zombie breakout and a post-apocalyptic world. Do not be turned away if you don’t like zombies, I’m serious. For me, they’re my worst nightmare – I can endure blood, gore, ghosts, monsters and whatever else you want to throw at me, but you put a zombie in front of me I’ll freak out big time. There’s no surprise then that I haven’t ever watched The Walking Dead…
Instead, we follow the story of a fungus that infected humans, turning them into, yep, zombie like creatures called ‘hungries’ who have lost their humanity and constantly hunger for healthy human flesh. Despite the zombie back story, it’s a special group of children who take center stage – these children are ‘hungries’, but for an unknown reason they can talk, think, learn and love. They could easily be mistaken for human children if it wasn’t for the fact that they will still hunger human flesh, if presented with some. Locked away in a research facility with the sole purpose to aid scientific discovery and the hopes for a vaccine, the children are unaware of their true nature.
Although it’s premise is wholly based on zombies, it really isn’t a zombie novel and there’s a surprising lack of zombie-filled moments. That’s not the point. It’s clever and it delves behind the scenes where it’s all full of secrets.
Let’s just get this out of the way – this is, without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve ever read. The plot gripped me from start to finish and at no point did I find myself bored. Each chapter is very subtly written in the voice of a main character, whose familiar personalities seep through the pages, keeping the story interesting and refreshing. You’ll find yourself reading a chapter full of empathy and warmth, a chapter full of scientific terminology and research or a chapter through the eyes of a child at random, knowing exactly who will then be the primary focus.
What I find so incredible about this book is how realistic it is. If a zombie apocalypse did happen, it would surely happen like this. The fungus that terrorised the planet is one of Earth’s most fascinating fungi, pumped on steroids – Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis. You know those ants that get infected and are kind of mind controlled by the fungus? It’s that… for humans.
I guess I’ll have to wrap-this up, won’t I? I could go on forever.
Full of gasp-worthy revelations, twists, turns and moments that will completely take your breath away, M.R Carey’s style of writing made me fall in love. I’ll certainly be having a look at what else this author has to offer me. I was in the dark, completely unaware of where it was heading, until the last line – the ending was unbelievable, I couldn’t speak.
I highly, highly recommend you grab a copy of The Girl With All The Gifts. If anything, treat yourself this summer.
Have you read this book? Does it sound like something you’d enjoy?
You can read my previous post here.
Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills.