Book Review: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Melanie goes to a strange school and has questions no one can seem to answer to her satisfaction, such as, why are the children strapped to their chairs and served live grubs at mealtime?
The Girl with All the Gifts is a great story, to the point that I became sad when nearing the end of the book.
It both fulfills and defies genre stereotypes. Itâ€™s horror without being horrifying. It shows horrible abuses without being overly emotional. Itâ€™s a coming of age for a person whoâ€™s somewhat ageless.
I love seeing the different ways modern storytellers talk about zombies without using the word “zombies.”
Did I mention there are zombies? There are zombies! Tally up another star just for that.
The Walking Dead calls them “walkers.” Some movies call them “the undead.” The Girl with All the Gifts calls them “hungries.” At first, I thought the hungries were a scare tactic meant to keep children in line and discourage wandering off the property lines, but no. They’re very real in this world.
Caldwell the scientist might be my favorite character. Not at all because I like her (let’s be clear; I don’t), but because sheâ€™s so well drawn. She’s one of those evil characters who doesn’t realize sheâ€™s evil, and that, I think , is the best kind of bad guy.
Caldwell genuinely thinks sheâ€™s finding a cure and on the verge of saving humanity. And you know, maybe she is.She doesnâ€™t see her actions as evil. Think about what we do now with animal testing, which arguably many do see an evil…but still much less evil than killing a human. Thatâ€™s how she sees it.
And I can see how some might argue that Melanie, as cute and loveable as she is, is actually the monster of the story. She guarantees the downfall of humans and the uprising of zombie hybrids.
So who’s the real villain? Either of them? Both? Neither? The Girl with All The Gifts challenges the conventions of good and bad, making us rethink what the happy ending should be and how to ethically get there.
THAT’S the fascinating, messy, not quite answerable question of this book for me. And itâ€™s wonderful.