Ever since George Romero's Night of the Living Dead was released when I was a wee tot, zombies have been a subject that I can't look away from or ignore. With the popularity of The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, World War Z, and 28 days later, it's not surprising that more and more authors are taking a dip into the zombie pool where they can let their imaginations run wild. A good zombie story, to me, has interesting characters who you care for, a setting where the author actually spends time visualizing what it would be like during a zombie apocalypse, and a story that leaves readers gasping by the time they're finished.
I have had a fun time trying to discuss this story with other potential readers without revealing any secrets, or spoilers. You have to read this book in order to understand the full story, and not just take what I, nor anyone else has to say about it at face value. I have to say that The Girl With All the Gifts is a remarkably well written, descriptive story, that scared the crap out of me with it's potential for realistic pathogens that could end the world any day now. The time and effort that Carey spent on writing his story, could be compared to Deadline, or even Parasite. The story absolutely held my attention for the full 407 pages.
I don't think it's really any type of spoiler to say that this is a zombie apocalypse story that surrounds FOUR main characters (Melanie, Helen Justineau, Dr. Caroline Caldwell, and Sergeant Eddie Parks). The story, set in England, takes place in a world where a FUNGUS (virus) decimated the world's population leaving behind zombie like creatures called "hungries." The hungries in this book are not capable of reasoning, or emotions. What they do have is a complete desire to hunt and kill, and eat until they are completely full. Oh, oh what was that noise? TOO LATE!!!
Melanie is an interesting case study in what it actually means to be human. She is introduced to readers as a little girl who truly doesn't understand how truly unique or different she is from those around her, or why they chain her to her chair, or point guns at her. She loves school. She has a genius level IQ. She really is the star of this story and I don't think I would get any arguments from anyone by saying that. I loved how protective she is of her teacher Miss Justineau right up until the last page of the story.
As for Miss Justineau, when you break her character down, I would say she's my second favorite character. Even though she was sent to observe the children like Melanie, she also tried to connect to them, and does the best she can in a bad situation. Miss J had an interesting background that is discussed, and leaves readers wondering what they would have done in a similar situation.
By far, the most egotistical and maddening character is Dr. Caroline Caldwell who has made it her life's goal to find a cure, even if it means using unwilling patients to do so. That includes using patient number ONE, Melanie, to get her answers. The last main character is Sergeant Park and he truly is a soldier first, and a patsy to Caldwell's desires. However, Park also progressively grows on you, until you are left wondering who is going to live, and who is going to die.
I will end my review by saying that I am totally impressed by Carey's writing, his setting, and his characters. The ending teases you just enough to leave you questioning the future of humanity, as well as the so called Junkers, and hungries. I do, however, have a small question. In English terms, what does a torch really mean? Is it a flashlight? If so, why would you not use flashlight, instead of torch?
Author - M.R. Carey
Title - The Girl With All the Gifts
Published by Hachette/Orbit
Released: June 10, 2014
Format: E-Book 407 pages