Perhaps you’ve seen the trailer for the upcoming movie The Girl with All the Gifts and are wondering what the story is all about. You’re in luck, because the movie is based on the book by M. R. Carey and we have it in the Field Library (there are other copies in the Westchester system), and the book is absolutely wonderful!
When the book first came out, the reviews and the jacket copy were a little coy about what Melanie’s “gifts” were, and I can understand why. The author does a terrific job of showing the world from Melanie’s point of view, and she doesn’t know what she is, certainly not in the beginning, and all she can do is notice the way people, like the military guards who transport her from her room to the schoolroom every day, treat her. Not having anything to compare her life to, and being just a kid, Melanie simply assumes that everybody lives this way, and only when disaster strikes does she realize that she and her fellow students are not ordinary human beings and that they are a danger to the ordinary humans around them.
Another reason not to start out with the report that the book is a zombie novel is because that immediately gives the potential reader a slew of images and tropes in his or her mind, and you are much better off coming to Melanie on her own terms and getting to know her as an amazing character rather than fitting her into a stereotype.
All I can say is that this book was so gripping, and the characters so real and vivid and NOT stereotypical (the kindhearted teacher, the gruff and by the rules military man, and Melanie herself), that when it first came out in 2014, I took it out immediately and could not put it down. I ended up taking it with me to work (!!) and sneaking quick reads in spare moments because I HAD to know how it came out.
I’m not going to give anything away, but I will say the ending was both totally unexpected and strangely satisfying. This is definitely a book to read before you see the movie, because I can’t imagine how the movie could possibly do this fascinating and engrossing book justice. Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself!
Oh, and by the way, for those of you doing the 2016 Reading Challenge, this book definitely qualifies as a horror book.