Review: The Girl with all the Gifts by M. R. Carey

4 out of 5 hungry stars

This is one of those books that has a freaking amazing blurb, and lots of folks say “I went into it without knowing much about it”. And somehow, this gets caught up in the blogo/booko-sphere and everyone else says the same thing: it’s best to go in not knowing much about this book. This means that sometimes, it is hard to find a review that gets to the nitty gritty.

Well, screw that. I am going to review this like any book because I think you know what you are getting. If you don’t want to know what the book is about, read the blurb on Goodreads and throw your bookish foreknowledge to the wind. For those who would like a review, go forth.

Yes. It’s zombies. It’s a zombie book. There are zombies in it. Shock! omg! Amaze!

But you should have seen that coming. This book’s main character is a girl, Melanie, who goes to class everyday, strapped into her chair. She promises not to bite. Now clearly, this suggests there is a danger from her bite. There is a lot of danger in this world. Sometimes, her classmates go missing. Sometimes, they go a little nuts and are taken away. Because these are not normal children. There is some suggestion that the kids understand that, because they are being taught about an outside world they will never see. They used to live out there, but that was before, before speech, before she had memories. They live in a “base” and the people that strap them in every morning are clearly military. They know the land beyond the base is dangerous, full of hungries and junkers. The only other safe place is Beacon, a town free of hungries. The children are taught by a series of teachers with varying abilities. Then there is Miss Justineau.

Miss Justineau is different. Frankly, Melanie is in love with her. She is the most personable teacher, and days with Miss Justineau are like sunshiny days in the middle of winter. She reads them stories, lets them speak to each other. She answers their questions and listens to their own stories and ideas. When Melanie asks about what will happen when the children grow up and move to Beacon, it makes Miss Justineau very sad.

Melanie’s POV is not the only one we get. We also see things from behind the scenes. We see Miss Justineau, who is just a kind and decent as Melanie thinks, and we see her interactions with her coworkers. There is also Sargent, the man in charge of the military guys. It’s through him that we learn most about what is going on in the outside world. We also see Dr. Caldwell and the lab. The lab is not a pleasant place. You don’t think they are keeping these dangerous kids in school out of the goodness of their hearts, do you? Because you would be wrong.

Of course, you can’t have a zombie movie where the main characters get to stay behind walls and be safe. There is always a breakdown of security, of safety. There is always a dangerous trip through the wilds and the shambling hoards. They usually go two different ways. There is either government involved or not. Mostly not – zombie stories are usually about isolation and survival, usually with an epic quest. I like this because there is a government element, but there is also the isolation and epic quest element. This is a really exciting and different zombie book, and I am so glad I read it. If you are into that sort of thing, this is up your alley.

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