Book Review Rules.
The book may (or may not) work for me personally but that’s not to say it didn’t do wonders for (or fail) someone else.
Would I recommend?
“The truth is the truth, the only prize worth having. If you deny it, you’re only showing that you’re unworthy of it.” (brilliant)
“You can’t save people from the world. There’s nowhere else to take them.”
“Melanie thinks: when your dreams come true, your true has moved…like a weird echo of something that already happened to you a long time ago.”
“They walk on endlessly. Time elongates, fractures, rewinds and replays in stuttering moments that – while they have no coherent internal logic – all seem drearily familiar and inevitable.”
“She’s lived in Plato’s cave, staring at the shadows on the wall. Now she’s been turned around to face the fire.”
“Even the air seems to have a smell – earthy and rich and complicated, made out of things living and things dying and things long dead. The smell of the world where nothing stops moving, nothing stays the same.”
1. I love a good post-apocalyptic story. The author imagines a world in which a fungus-like organism infects humans by invading and hijacking the nervous system, effectively creating a zombie-verse* or “hungries” as Carey writes them.
(*Yup…it’s a zombie story. Can’t believe I’m recommending a zombie novel. Not that I have a hard rule on the subject, I just never really saw that as a possibility. I was tricked into reading it by the author’s unique approach. One must give points for originality.)
2. Carey delves into the creation of the virus, almost making the contagion read as plausible.
3. The introduction of our main character, Melanie, is quite dramatic and appropriate given the context and setting: Melanie, along with an elite group of children, are infected with the virus but have retained their ability to think and function (almost) independently of their infection. They only go “full-zombie” when they get too close to the scent of an uninfected human.
Everyday, and at gunpoint, Melanie, and her counterparts are strapped down and locked into wheelchairs in an underground bunker and wheeled about the facility for purposes of education and experimentation. The children are not told about their infection or their unique abilities to retain some of their humanness. The underground is all they’ve known. Melanie, the most gifted of the children, is considered the prize of the group and the best candidate for dissection in the hope of a cure. Really, quite dramatic.
Want to know what happens to Melanie? Is she successfully dissected for a cure? Does she escape the underground bunker? Read the book. I’ve already given more away than I typically do. Refer to Book Review Rules.
The Not So Good
1. *Boo, zombies. Personally, I’m zombied out. I do admit, the approach is different and what I read kept me engaged despite the common trope.
2. I think this novel would have benefited from a part I and a part II. I can see an entire novel dedicated to the underground aspect, ending with an escape, and a second novel dedicated to the above ground experience. As is, The Girl with All the Gifts, reads as two different novels crammed into one. The underground and the above ground stories really needed their own space.
3. I would have liked more background on Dr. Caldwell. As the scientist tasked and obsessed with finding the cure, the doctor’s ambition came through very well. Dr. Caldwell’s thought process and internal dialogues were also well done. I wanted to know more about her, unfortunately she was cast as a responsible but ever-so-slightly mad genius. The same is true for character Sergeant Eddie Parks, a lot of rich flavor there but not enough time to explore his character. Again, a part I and a part II would have allowed greater depth for these worthy characters.
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 Parks 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.