Title: The Girl with All the Gifts
Author: M. R. Carey
Genres: Science-Fiction, Zombies, Dystopia, Adult, Horror
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 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. THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin and Neil Gaiman.
Melanie’s world consists of her cell, the hallway, the classroom and the showers. Every weekday before she is brought to the classroom she is strapped into a chair by a soldier while another soldier holds a gun to her head. When she tells the soldiers she won’t bite they only look grim. Melanie is a hungry, a human infected by a fungus which turns them into zombies, though they’re never called zombies. Melanie and the other children she attends class with are different though. They’re not mindless, hunger-driven beings. They can talk and learn just like any other children. They’re kept contained as an experiment. The government hopes to use them to find a cure.
But when hungries and human junkers break down the fence of their compound, Melanie escapes with Miss Justineau, Dr Caldwell, Sergeant Parks and Private Gallagher. Their only hope is to reach Beacon, the only city left standing after the Breakdown twenty years before.
The main characters in The Girl with All the Gifts consist of Melanie, a ten year old girl, through whose eyes we are introduced to this world, Miss Justineau, her teacher and idol, Sergeant Parks, the man in charge of getting the children into their chairs and to the classroom all while pointing a gun at their heads, Dr Caldwell, a cold-hearted scientist willing to sacrifice anything or anybody in the quest to find a cure and Gallagher, a young private caught trying to survive the world he was born into.
Melanie and Miss Justineau are the standout characters from this book. At its heart the story focuses on a love story. Not romantic love but the love between Melanie and Miss Justineau. Melanie idolises her teacher, and wants nothing more than to be with her. Miss Justineau wants to protect Melanie more than anything, and treats her as another normal child despite the dangers. These two characters are complex, with Miss Justineau overcoming her past and her compliance with the atrocities committed by Dr Caldwell. Melanie is a child with a much older soul, understanding the world around her a bit more every day. I felt many different emotions toward these two characters throughout the book. Melanie is in turn to be pitied and feared, while Miss Justineau made me feel dislike and pride in her unwavering affection for Melanie.
In contrast to these real, lifelike characters, the rest of the main cast come across as 2-D, each fitting squarely into their archetypal box. We have the strong, yet secretly soft-hearted Sergeant Parks, the un-tested Gallagher, terrified of the world he was born into, and the ruthless Dr Caldwell, who thinks nothing of slicing up a child for research. These characters do not escape their boxes once throughout the course of the book. They remain what they are from the start, with no change. These characters serve as nothing but backdrop to the story of Melanie and Miss Justineau. These characters elicit the emotions they’re meant to. I vehemently hated Dr. Caldwell with her cold hearted pragmatism. Sergeant Parks I came to like the more I read of him, as his soft side began to show. Gallagher evoked nothing but pity throughout, as he clearly had nothing waiting for him in Beacon and yet had nowhere else to go.
The book kept me on my toes throughout. I read the book in two days as I was so eager to reach the end and see how everything turns out. And boy was it worth it! This book was a solid four stars throughout but the final few chapters brought it up to the five stars, and have kept my thoughts on it! I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good zombie novel. If you have yet to read one, I’d recommend starting with this thought-provoking addition to the genre.
Have you read The Girl with All the Gifts yet? What did you think of it? If not, are you going to read it? Let me know in the comments below!