Author: M.R. Carey
Melanie, like any other ten-year-old little girl, attends class Monday through Friday. She has a favorite teacher and loves to learn. But unlike other children, Melanie and her classmates are never allowed out of their seats. Each morning they are fastened tight and wheeled into the classroom. The soldiers in charge of guarding them look at them with fear and contempt, and the doctors see them as subjects instead of children. But in a world gone mad, Melanie may be the key to stopping an infection that threats to topple all of humanity.
“Something opens inside her, like a mouth opening wider and wider and wider and screaming all the time — not from fear, but from need. Melanie thinks she has a word for it now, although it still isn’t anything she’s felt before. It’s hunger.”
M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts is as suspenseful as it is unique, a zombie novel that will have you questioning your own convictions. As if there aren’t enough moral dilemmas when it comes to a zombie apocalypse, in this book, the infection that killed most of the earth’s population has had an unexpected effect on a group of children. Though they still hunger for human flesh, they have retained their cognitive functions. They can communicate, learn and have thoughts like any normal child. To some, like Dr Caldwell, they are an anomaly, meant to be studied, a stepping stone to finding a cure. For others, it’s difficult to justify experimentation when the subjects look so much like children.
Melanie’s life is tedious, her cell is her home and the only contact she has with others usually involves a gun. But the one bright spot in her life is Miss Justineau, one of the teachers who doesn’t see the children as monsters. She reads them stories and plays music for their enjoyment. Though education has been provided to all the children, Melanie’s relationship with Miss Justineau meets an emotional need that is at odds with the belief that these children are essentially dead. Melanie’s ignorance of her own nature is heartbreaking, especially when she begins to realize what she is and the danger she poses to the one person she cares about. This discovery runs parallel to several characters’ gradual understanding that Melanie isn’t simply a ‘hungry’ but a child with her own thoughts and feelings.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a little slow to start, but the action quickly picks up and like the characters, you begin to see just how wonderful little Melanie is and just how terrifying a world full of children like her can be.