Book Review: The Girl With All the Gifts (The Girl With All the Gifts #1) by M.R. Carey
So, I’m not usually one for zombie books, series or movies. They’re all a bit samey and predictable, unless they totally subvert the genre like the movie Zombieland, which is totally hilarious. But this novel is described as a thriller and the blurb, about a little girl called Melanie who everyone seems terrified of, intrigued me enough to pick it up.
And WOW I’m so pleased I did. This is a zombie book that is intelligent, exciting and gripping. With a BRILLIANT ending.
Melanie is in some kind of secure facility being taught about the world before it changed and she’s clearly super intelligent. And special in some way. She’s strapped down in a chair, as are the rest of the children in the classroom. And as the narrative unfolds, we learn about the other unusual things that take place in Melanie’s life and start to put the pieces together.
Soon we learn that the secure facility is a military run base that is guarded from the ‘hungries’ – zombies who have been taken over by a parasitic fungus. Also outside are the ‘junkers’. These are non-infected humans who are equally as dangerous. They chose not to come inside the military run areas and take their chances out in the wild among the hungries.
Melanie adores one of her teachers, Miss Justineau, and is keen to please her and do well in her classes. Miss Justineau, against all rules and regulations, has empathy for the children that she teaches. However, Sergeant Parks, the military man in charge of the base isn’t so kind, he’s focused on survival. And the scientist Dr. Caldwell is single-minded in her quest to learn as much as she can about the fungus in order to stop it.
These characters, along with a young private with his own issues, Gallagher, end up in rather close quarters and the motivations of each are often not aligned. This prompts some tense situations and riveting moments that sucked me in. Like a hungry having a feed, I devoured this story super-fast.
The writing is fast-paced and vivid. I liked Melanie’s point of view. She’s ten years old, with childlike wonder but is also smart and perceptive. She notices things without any judgement that don’t quite add up for the reader. We also hear from the perspective of the other characters, which allowed for an intriguing rounded view of events. I enjoyed seeing what drove each of the characters and hearing it first-hand.
The science is just enough to understand the fungus and how it operates. It’s not dumbed down and it’s not too complex. I enjoyed spending time in Dr. Caldwell’s mind as she battles to find a way to stop the fungus.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I loved the ending. Totally not what I was expecting and very clever. I definitely think it lived up to its description as a thriller. It’s not scary in a horror-movie kind of way, it’s full of suspense and interesting characters.
My rating: 5/5
>>My debut novel, a grimdark epic fantasy called MELOKAI, is out now! Available from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play Books, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Read more about my books here.<<
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