What’s it all about?:
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.
What did I think?:
I’ve seen this book around quite a lot and managed to pick up a copy in a bargain bookshop, intrigued by the premise. Our main character is a ten year old girl called Melanie and when the story begins, there is a number of questions that I asked myself and was entirely flummoxed about what was going on. For starters, Melanie appears to be incarcerated in a cell on an army base, but five days a week soldiers enter her room, armed with weapons, strap her into a wheelchair so that she cannot move and wheel her into a class with other children who are treated the same way for schooling. What on earth is going on? Well, when we find out why Melanie is presumed so dangerous, it wasn’t really what I was expecting. True, I haven’t read many post-apocalyptic zombie type novels, but I’m always open to trying new things. There are three other lead characters which are all interesting in their own right – we have the “no nonsense, I’m just doing my job,” Sergeant Parks who appears quite cruel and unyielding, Melanie’s guardian angel and school teacher Helen Justineau who constantly fights for Melanie’s rights, and lastly the voice of science and research Dr Caroline Caldwell, who enjoys a bit of experimentation on the children/research subjects, all for the good of the world apparently.
You see, the world of our future has a bit of a problem. Years ago a parasite infected much of the human race, turning them into The Hungries, your basic zombie who enjoys eating brains, infecting others, and generally walking around groaning a lot. You know, the usual. When security at the army base is breached, and The Hungries come a-knocking, Sergeant Parks, Dr Caldwell, Miss Justineau and Melanie find themselves forming a strange little army to try and survive against the ghouls of doom, Meanwhile, Dr Caldwell finds herself in a frantic race against time to try and find the reason behind the infection and a potential antidote. She’s not the most trustworthy character in the book however, as she has no morals about wanting to experiment on Melanie and yes, actually remove her brain. Throughout the novel, Miss Justineau is convinced that Melanie is special and admires her fight against what goes on inside her body and protects her like she would her own child. Sergeant Parks is also slightly dubious about having Melanie along for a ride, but hey, as long as she remains chained up, muzzled, does not come near him… he feels somewhat safer!
I have some quite mixed thoughts about this novel. I absolutely loved the beginning where they are at the army base and we are still wondering about all the children that have been locked up in the cells. I thought the characters were pretty decent and enjoyed seeing the progress that both Dr Caldwell and Sergeant Parks make throughout the novel but found Miss Justineau a bit frustrating at times, and a little one-dimensional. As a “zombie” novel, it gives you everything you are expecting – a splash of science, a lot of action and some very tense and exciting “hungry” moments, but for some reason I didn’t connect entirely with the whole novel and thought it dwindled too much as it reached the end. I am nevertheless, looking forward to seeing what the author does next.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):