Published by Hachette UK on January 14th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction, Dystopian
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NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.
When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.
Melanie is a very special girl.
Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.'Original, thrilling and powerful' - GUARDIAN
'Haunting, heartbreaking' - VOGUE
'A great read that takes hold of you and doesn ́t let go' - John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
'Scary, tense and fast-paced . . . but with a heart-warming tenderness' - MARIE CLAIRE
“And then like Pandora, opening the great big box of the world and not being afraid, not even caring whether what’s inside is good or bad. Because it’s both. Everything is always both. But you have to open it to find that out.”
I think, by now, the cat’s out of the bag with this book and we can say it’s about zombies. Even the hardcover blurb drops some not so subtle hints about that. And I have to say that I’m not much of a traditional zombie fan – moaning, slow-walking dead people are neither interesting nor scary to me – but there is nothing traditional about this book.
Firstly, this is not an old school “how to get away from the zombies and stay alive” kind of book. It opens from the perspective of these zombies – intelligent, emotional, child zombies – and Melanie is one of them. A young, intelligent girl who is seemingly full of life, curiosity and the ability to form emotional attachments.
The way the story is told from a specific perspective is important, changing the way we view Melanie and the other “children”. They are first presented as thoughtful, frightened kids in a situation that makes us instantly sympathetic. We are not allowed to simply view them as necessary sacrifices in the hunt for a zombie cure.
It is more of an introspective, philosophical book about what it means to be human and how being human might not necessarily make you one of the good guys, than it is an action-packed adventure full of chases and shoot-outs (though there is some of that too).
At the heart of this story is Melanie’s relationship with her beloved teacher Miss Justineau. And, through the teacher’s stories and inspiration (with particular reference to the story of Pandora), it is also about Melanie’s quest for love and acceptance, as well as an understanding of who she is.
The zombie science felt new and interesting, despite my aversion to most technical language, and all the principal characters are well-developed with their own history, motivations and aspirations. The author even takes time to develop a deeper understanding of those characters we will never come to like.
If you are looking for horror and traditional zombies, The Girl with All the Gifts might not be the book for you. But if you’d like something refreshing, moving and more character-driven, I would highly recommend it.