Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Girl with All the Gifts (M.R. Carey)

As a fan of The Walking Dead from the very beginning, I was looking forward to reading M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts.  One complaint I’ve had about TWD lately is that it just doesn’t seem as original as it once did, with the writers recycling stories over and over.  Readers don’t have to worry about that with this novel though, as Carey energizes the zombie genre with a fresh new approach.

Decades ago, the world has basically ended with the Breakdown, and “hungries” are roaming the land.  Most of them are like the way zombies are traditionally portrayed – always looking for their next meal.  But a group of children are different; they can talk if they’re taught, learn, and be somewhat controlled.  Melanie is one of these kids, waiting every day to be collected from her cell on the base so she can go to “school.”  Her best days are when her favorite teacher, Miss Justineau, is in control of the classroom; however, this is not your ordinary school.  They are taught only because a research scientist, Dr. Caldwell, needs the data.  When the base is compromised, the survivors set their sights on Beacon, where there might be some way to start new lives.

Carey manages to do something I’ve never seen in a zombie novel, and that is to add an enormous touch of humanity into it.  Even though Melanie is still a functioning hungry, she wants so badly to make Miss Justineau proud of her, and it is this teacher/student relationship that is truly at the heart of The Girl with All the Gifts.