The girl with all the gifts – M. R. Carey

the-girl-with-all-the-giftsThe girl with all the gifts by author M.R. Carey tells the story of Melanie – a girl who, for as long as she can remember, has been living the same old routine. She lives in a cell in an underground bunker, with other kids in cages as her neighbours. Every morning guards come, strap her safely into a wheelchair and take her to lessons. Melanie loves days when Miss Justineau is the teacher. Melanie gets the feeling that the children are important but she can’t imagine why – the adults around them seem to not like them.

The world was taken over by a disease causing humans to turn into hungries, creatures that are neither alive nor dead that feed on human flesh. The military base where Melanie lives is a research base where Dr Caldwell, a scientist, is trying to find a cure to the disease. Melanie and the other children are the source of most of her findings. Although they are unaware of it, they are hungries. But they are not like all the others – they seem to be able to speak and learn and are capable of human feelings. Their lives are quite normal in their eyes. But Melanie’s life changes completely when a horde of hungries invade their base and Melanie, together with two soldiers, Miss Justineau and Dr Caldwell are forced to leave their “home” and venture out into the hungries-infested world.

So I just finished reading this book and I thought it was quite special. The narration is in present tense and in the third person, which is quite different. Despite it being in the third person, it really explores what the characters feel and think. During the narrative, the author really gets to study the psychology of the characters and one gets to know some of the reasons that make them who they are. Some are haunted by things they did in the past, some are running away from the people they knew, others are so immersed in finding a cure to the hungry disease that their moral compass no longer points North. But at the very heart of the story is the star of the plot, Melanie – a young girl who gets thrown into the wild where she struggles to come to term with what she is and what that entails.

I am going to give The girl with all the gifts a three and a half star rating. I found this book easy to read. And original – despite the existence of so many other science fiction novels of the zombie variety. The main reason why I rate this book so highly is the unexpected ending, which I will not speak of any further – because I hate giving or reading spoilers. I also loved the exploration of the relationship between Melanie and Miss Justineau. Miss Justineau is the person that Melanie loves most in the world because she is kind and teaches them interesting things. Miss Justineau is rather fond of Melanie even though she knows what she is and this bond between them makes her feel guilty about being part of the scientif mission she is a part of.

The book was this year turned into a film of the same title, starring Glenn Close as Dr Caldwell, Gemma Arterton as Miss Justineau and Sennia Nanua as Melanie. Click here to watch the trailer.

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