The Girl With All the Gifts
M.R. Carey, 2014
Melanie is a very special girl. She’s incredibly smart, and she loves going to class, especially the classes taught by Miss Justineau. But Melanie and the other children aren’t like the adults that surround them. The children are infected with the parasitic mold that turns people into “hungries” – a zombie-like stage that has infected a large number of the planet. But rather than brainless monsters, Melanie and the other children can speak and learn and act almost human. Dr. Caldwell thinks that she might be able to use them to find a cure. And Melanie is her prize subject.
This was such an original way to present the zombie story. The book is told with alternating points of view, one of which being Melanie herself, so the reader was able to experience the story from her point of view, which was creative and touching and so enjoyable. It was almost heart-breaking to watch Melanie figure out what she was, but her strength and, frankly, her humanity made her one of the more interesting and lovable characters that I’ve read in a long time.
The character development overall was actually very well done. Characters that started out very one-note, like Sergeant and Dr. Caldwell turned into well-rounded characters as the story progressed – some becoming more likable, and some becoming more loathsome. I especially liked the relationship between Melanie and Miss Justineau and the way that developed as well.
In the end, this was a fantastic zombie apocalypse story – with everything you want from a zombie apocalypse story – but with enough new and exciting ideas to make it completely original at the same time. And – without giving any spoilers – I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. I had no idea how the author was going to wrap things up and, while it wasn’t what I was expecting, I was ultimately satisfied by the way it ended. It almost had to end that way.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes zombie stories or science fiction in general. A good apocalypse story with engaging characters is hard to find, and this is one of the better ones. A must read.