SPOOKY READS - The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
I have zombie fatigue. Like really bad. It’s gotten to the point where I roll my eyes when I see another zombie movie or TV show coming around. I engorged myself on zombies for years and now I’m purging ya’ll.
BUT…I have heard amazing things about this weeks spooky read and so I decided to bite the bullet (brain) and read a zombie novel. And wow…I’m so glad I did.
The Girl With All The Gifts was written by M.R. Carey and published in 2014. It was made into a movie in 2017. I did attempt to watch the flick after reading the book but I got kind of bored. I want to revisit maybe after the story is not so fresh in my mind and I’m in the right frame of mind.
The story is set 20 years after a zombie apocalypse has happened. Only in this world they call them “hungries”, because god forbid a piece of zombie fiction actually refer to them as zombies. The world has pretty much fallen but there’s groups of militarized areas where people still live under protection.
These characters we're following are in a small military compound. What’s unique is that they have found a bunch of children hungries who can speak, think, and learn but also still live off of flesh and blood. The scientists want to study these children and see if they can find a cure. They’ve got them locked up in cells and each day take them out and put them in a classroom situation where they learn and develop.
Melanie is who the story follows, she’s a young girl in this compound who’s also a hungry. The kids don’t understand what they are. Melanie is the smartest of the group and the soldiers and scientists are fascinated with her. Melanie has become very attached to Miss Helen Justineau, one of the teachers. Justineau has also become fascinated with Melanie.
Other major characters in play are the very creepy lead scientist, Dr. Caldwell, and the head soldier, Sgt. Parks.
When a group of Junkers, people who live and survive outside of society, break into the compound using hungries as weapons, the compound goes into disaster mode. Caldwell, Parks, Justineau and Melanie find themselves as the only survivors and escape into the wilderness. They attempt to get to the closest safe compound but are stuck in the wild with Melanie as she slowly discovers what she really is. And how dangerous she can really be.
I loved Melanie and the way she was written. She was so intelligent and curious, but also incredibly sweet and kind. It was fascinating to watch the world through her eyes. Justineau was also a fascinating character, she comes with a dark backstory that shapes who she is in the current story. Parks was a piece of shit. I don’t care how much the author tried to redeem him, he was garbage. Caldwell is a wonderful villain and one of the only things I enjoyed about the film was Glenn Close portraying Caldwell.
The story itself was pretty fluid. There were some boring parts that I felt like I was dragging myself through, but most of it was super exciting and creepy. There’s some really spooky imagery that shows up. Especially one moment that involves a hungry pushing a baby stroller with something inside. Or a hungry that’s singing to itself.
The world building was flawless. Without spending too much time, as a reader, I felt instantly involved in this world and understood what was going on. The ending was incredible and left you with a great sense of dread.
Carey is a strong writer and has a knack for character building. He wrote another book within this universe released last year, The Boy on the Bridge. I think in time I will go read it, but I’m just so bored with zombies, that not even Carey can make me run out and read this next story. The Girl With All The Gifts doesn’t end on a cliff hanger so you don’t have to worry about that. It’s a scary and satisfying ending.
I know most of you are zombie-d out, and I feel you, but I do recommend reading this book as it is a breath of fresh air in the genre. But it’s a very small breath.