An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading.
I decided to read this book after seeing how many people loved it. A lot of you hear on BookLikes have done reviews or ratings on it and I've yet to find someone who didn't like it. So when Mom offered to buy me a book, I figured this was a good option. I finished it today just as my laundry finished, so really, perfect timing.
The Girl with All the Gifts is about a group of survivors living in a post-zombified - or hungries, as they're called - world. At the center of everything is Melanie, a very special girl who is different to say the least. That's all I can really say without giving away too much of the plot. I'll go into more detail further on about the different characters so if this is all you want to know, stop reading after the following paragraph.
What a sad, beautiful story. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. The plot was like nothing I've read before, especially in the zombie genre. It's less about surviving and more about figuring out the truth and the nature of humanity of perhaps. I learned in a writing class that you should be able to have a clear enough concept of your story to sum it up with another work, X meets Y. This one I would describe as Matilda meets Jurassic Park. It's a strange mix but I feel it sums up the plot so well. Melanie's relationships with Caldwell and Justineau reminds me so much of the Trunchbull and Ms. Honey, respectively. The ethical questions of Caldwell's work and the danger of being hunted were all very Jurassic Park. Really, it's a fresh, complex plot and there's nothing about it I can think of to complain about.
Melanie was a wonderful character. I loved her so, so much. Her love for Justineau was so sweet and I liked seeing the world in general through her eyes. She's very intelligent and she comes up with plans that are really ingenius. I think it would be hard not to like her.
My second favorite character was Parks. At the beginning of the story I was lukewarm towards him. As the story went on and his character and relationship with Melanie developed, I grew really fond of him. He was a flawed character and very different than the normal, noble lead character in a zombie survival movie.
The other characters were all good as well. Justineau did get on my nerves a bit, just because her behavior was so counter productive to survival. But there's not a character I can look at and go, "I don't like you". Everyone, from the soldiers to the hungries, had distinct characterizations and made the story richer.
This is a beautiful story. It's so sad and while the ending can be called happy, it's also gut wrenching. Sort of like, "I love this ending but also I hate it but not really because I love it". It's complicated but that's what makes it so good. To me that's also fitting for the genre. This is horror/post-apocalyptic and I'm not usually a fan when those stories are wrapped up neatly and perfectly happy. Maybe that's more my taste than a true hallmark of the genre, but whatever. The made me realized why the story was called The Girl with All the Gifts. Carey is a brilliant writer and I was so happy he made me wait to figure it all out. I smiled but I also wanted to cry. It was so good. Just so good.
Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Read this book. It's amazing.
Final thoughts: I saw the trailer for the movie adaptation and I'm not quite sure what to make of the casting. Normally I'm not a fan of race bending in either direction. It just kind of irks me. That said, I love the looks of their Melanie. Maybe it's because I thought she was black before I read it. The choice in Justineau, though, still sits uneasily with me. I love Gemma Arterton but I never would have pictured her as a Ms. Justineau. There's another actress I know fits her description better but while I can see her face, I can't think of her name to save my life. So I dunno. We'll see how she does.
Glenn Close as Caldwell is perfect. And I'm so excited to see one of the Andy's from Hot Fuzz as Park.