The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey (2014) Book Review

TGWATG

spoiler_alert

20 years after a deadly pathogen has ravished the globe (sounds familiar) and the world is not recovering from the spread of fungus that essentially turns people into flesh-eating zombies; eating their brains and using their bodies to live and spread more of the evil fungal spores. In the British countryside a makeshift military base has been set-up with prison cells, a lab and a classroom full of children strapped to wheelchairs and transported by arm soldiers? That’s weird. Thus begins another apocalyptic tale in a dystopian future.

Our journey takes from that countryside military base, sheltered from the hungries (zombie fungus creatures) and junkers (people who haven’t gone to secure locations and choose to live in the wild among the monsters) to the desolate streets of London as 4 humans and a child hungry try to make it to Beacon – an outpost somewhere near London that has become an inner city slum and I guess the only secure home for humans in this part of England

This book started out slow me as the characters, the setting and the cause of the apocalypse were revealed and the nature of the monsters. Which is fine because it actually made the story more engaging in retrospect. The main characters consist of Melanie a hungry girl of about 10 who is super intelligent for a zombie even though she doesn’t know she is one at the beginning; Helen Justineau her teacher and crush who is supposed to be studying the hungry children but becomes irreversibly attached to Melanie even though she knows the child is a monster; Sargeant Parks the scarred military man in charge of keeping the base safe and who doesn’t trust Melanie and has a thing Justineau even though he thinks she is foolish for her attachment to Melanie; Dr. Caroline Caldwell the butcher on the base who is trying to find a cure or antidote to the hungry infection by dissecting the children while they are alive (for zombies I guess) and removing their brains to study; Private Kieran Gallagher one of Parks’ soldiers who is a loser that pretty much brings about the destruction of the country base by inadvertently getting some junkers of importance killed.

The parts in the base were slow but once the junkers destroyed it and killed or got almost everyone killed, our group of 5 set out into the wider world heading to Beacon. We get to see the post hungry world with fresh eyes like Melanie does as this her first time being outside her cell and the base (she doesn’t remember a time before being in the base).  The journey is fraught with danger from without and within as Caldwell becomes a little to eager to examine the hungry world and determined to get samples from test subject number 1 (Melanie) and any other hungries that she can get her hands on.

Final Thoughts: This was a good book, telling the story from the 5 perspectives of the main characters and how each of them sees the world and the situations they are in but even with the variety of viewpoints, there wasn’t anything lost or sacrificed in the story. The one thing that struck as soon as it was revealed that it was a fungus and the description of what it did to people was -oh just like in The Last of Us. The way the hungries reacted and the descriptions of the hungries that were growing pods or trees and what not from their chests, kept reminding of Clickers from that game. It’s not a bad thing though, it just reminded a lot of the game. All in all a good read and the ending was so grime and beautiful.

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