Title: The Girl With All The Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey
Pages: 460 pages
Release Date: June 19th, 2014
Source: Paperback from Barnes & Noble
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic
Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
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.
Buy it now!
World War Z meets Warm Bodies in this action-packed thriller.
From the title and synopsis, you wouldn't think "this is a book about zombies". At least that's not what I assumed. The rude awakening came to me as I watched the UK trailer for the movie, which to my chagrin, showed quite a lot of gore and mindless zombies. I was embarrassed to say that I didn't realize early on that this was going to be a 'zombie book'. But even then I was wrong. After reading the book, I've come to a realization that this is not your average zombie book. Zombies are just an added bonus. This is a story about monsters and humans; and how the bond will help nurture a hopeless world.
The world has been overrun by a ruthless fungi, Ophiocordyceps, that consumes the human brain and turns it in a brutal killing machine. Humans become mindless, flesh-eating monsters. Fortunately, the fungi epidemic can only be spread through blood and saliva. In an enclosed boarding school, there are kids who have contracted the deadly fungi but don't process it the way others do. You see, these kids have the ability to learn, laugh, talk and even love. The story follows a girl named Melanie who realizes she's different but she doesn't know how. All she knows is that she'll do anything to protect her beloved teacher, Miss Justineau.
I'm going to start with my gripes against this book since I didn't particularly dislike anything other than what I'm about to state. I understand that this is post apocalyptic, but I felt like the author could've given us more background on how the fungus came to be. Most of it was revealed in the end, and I just thought it'd be better if we knew more about the fungus prior to the explosion of the boarding school. That way the reader would be able to put two and two together and try to solve the mystery him/herself.
TGWALT was not a 'zombie' book, in the strictest sense of the word. I don't think the author wrote this book with an intention to scare people with the idea of zombies running around. The main reason this post is so unique different from any other zombie book on the market is because the ending doesn't leave with you with a single though of exterminating all the zombies. Killing isn't always the answer, people! So you may flinch at the gory scenes but just remember that in the end, it all comes down to one thing -- evolution. Evolution is what you should fear the most. The zombies were only a side effect of evolution. I don't think you realize you should be fearing evolution as much in the beginning but it's made quite clear in the end.
The story is told from a multitude of character's perspectives in third person POV. This way we don't know what the characters are thinking, just what they are feeling and how they react to a certain situation.
My favorite chapters were from Miss Justinaeu. I liked Melanie's too, but for some reason Miss Justinaeu's were more relatable. She is the school teacher in the boarding school who learns to love the kids she teaches even though they are blood-thirsty animals. In a world where it's every man for himself, she puts her life on the line to save these 'zombies'. In fact, she's only one of the only few who've shown a shred of compassion for the zombies. In some way, she's the hero of this story. She can save the human population from dying out, even if it means teaching these kid-monsters.
I like a fast-paced, gory zombie thriller as much as the next person, but the fact that this book had a underlying moral took a toll on the pacing. It wasn't extremely slow but it wasn't super fast either. I'd say this book is more of a roadmap for our future. The world works in mysterious ways. We will evolve, even if that means killing off the entire human race to make room for a greater species.