The Girl With All the Gifts is a post-apocalyptic novel by M. R. Carey. Not generally being enamoured by this genre, I surprisingly found myself immediately hooked and totally enthralled by Carey's book. I admit I would not have picked up this self-described thriller, had I known what it was about. Fortunately, the title, the cover, and the brief, only vaguely informative synopsis intrigued me. Kindle version.
The girl is Melanie, an innocent, intelligent and highly inquisitive ten year-old who is held captive in a locked down educational research facility, where she and the others are kept safe and secure by her military caretakers.
She and her fellow students are regularly strapped into chairs, removed from their cells, and wheeled to feeding stations, to the burning chemical showers, or to her place of happiness and joy, the classroom.
Melanie is a standout among her classmates. She is a sponge for detail, and loves the learning process, despite most of the purveyed information being dated; the environment surrounding the facility a distant memory of when the outside world thrived. She is a favourite of her beloved teacher, Miss Justineau. Forbidden within the clinical detached atmosphere, the two become close and forge an unbreakable bond, tested to the limit when Melanie must face who and what she is.
The outside world includes the feared “hungries”; human hosts to a dangerous and swiftly spreading pathogen, and “junkers”; a renegade group of survivalists.
An explosion at the base forces a small group to flee, including cold, by the books Sergeant Parks, young Private Gallagher, Dr. Caldwell, a scientist whose relentless dedication to research and saving the human race is at her own peril, Miss Justineau, and Melanie. They are essentially on their own, searching for sustenance and safety in a dangerous and threatening world.
The Girl With All the Gifts is an interesting story. It explores the concepts of love and loyalty, and what makes us human, within an apocalyptic context of carnage and destruction. It evokes emotion, and sentiment. At times it is brutal and shocking.
It is definitely a good read. It will certainly appeal to those who enjoy the genre, and even those like me who don’t generally seek it out.