thegirlwithallthegifts The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

This is another title that they were talking about on my morning Radio Show.  I should probably plug them every time.  I love listening to Sarah and Vinnie on Alice at 97.3.  They give the best book reviews!  Whenever Sarah says she loves a book, I’m pretty much guaranteed to love it, too.  And the fact that they’re local celebrities who promote reading is a big plus in my book.

Melanie, a 10 year old girl with a genius IQ, is kept in a cell.  She’s strapped in a rolling chair when she’s moved to her classroom, and is bathed once a week by chemicals.  She only eats once a week, too.  The world was hit by a terrible disease, turning human beings into “hungries,” that only move–and fast–when food is apparent.  Otherwise they stand around staring blankly, and rot.  Something’s different about Melanie and her classmates, though.  Helen Justineau is Melanie’s teacher, with whom Melanie has formed a sibling/parent relationship.  All hell breaks loose at the base where the children are being held, and Melanie, Ms. Justineau, a scientist and a couple of soldiers must break free and head to the last reported human city in the country.  Will they find their way, or will they be eaten by “hungries”?  What makes Melanie so special?

Normally I don’t do zombies.  There’s something about them that really, really freaks me out.  I had to be drunk to watch Resident Evil (the first in the series, and in the middle of the day) and even movies like Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead  freak me out.  But for some reason, I really like novels about zombies.  I don’t know why.  I enjoyed I am Legend (though, that was more vampire than zombie) and The Girl With All the Gifts was really great.  It was a page turner in that I wanted to know what happened next.  I found that I created emotional connections first to Melanie, then to Ms. Justineau… and then even to Caroline Caldwell.  The characters had realistic desires and fears, and interesting backstories.  Of course, as they’re running for their lives from undead creatures seeking to eat their brains, it’s hard to call it “realistic”… but I believe it is as much as it can be.

The fact that the world has been ravaged by zombies makes me wonder if this book (like most zombie books, actually) should be shelved in “zombie” or “dystopian” or “post-apocalypse” or… where?  Supernatural Suspense?  Horror?  I really don’t know.  I wonder if I would have liked the book more if I’d come into it blind.  The only thing I knew about the book when we started listening to it on audio was that “there are zombies.”  And my husband and I were absolutely hooked as we listened to it on a drive from Ashland, Oregon to San Francisco, California.  It was an excellent way to pass the time while I drove.

They’ve made a film adaptation of the book, and I haven’t seen it yet.  I’m a little nervous to–as scary movies are much more scary to me than scary novels.  But I am looking forward to seeing it.  I’m waiting to rent it and watch it at home during the daytime, when I can stop and pause if I need to.  I’ve noticed a few differences already between some of the characters.  They’ve changed the skin color of Melanie and Ms. Justineau, which I’m assuming was a casting choice.  I’m also curious to see how faithfully it follows the plot.  As I hate spoilers, I’m avoiding interviews and reviews of the film until after I’ve seen it.  Only time will tell.