Zombie fiction has become almost unfashionably in vogue this year, but The Girl With All The Gifts changes that, breaking every cliche. It’s got the pseudo-scientific theory and political commentary of World War Z, and is as unputdownable as Sci-Fi blockbuster book of the year, The Martian.
Protagonist, little girl Melanie, is a very special child. Kept in a compound with a group of other children just like her, she waits with excitement for her favourite part of her strictly controlled life, her lessons with the lovely and kind Miss Justineau. But the compound, and her life, are not as safe or regular as they seem, and when tensions rise between her keepers, she is forced to ask questions about who and what she is.
We’ve all heard about the zombie ants of the rainforest, right? Well, The Girl With All The Gifts works on the idea that a similar “ophiocordyceps unilateralis“ fungus has evolved that affects humans, too. As a zombie-fearing individual, there can be no creepier idea as far as I’m concerned. Carey takes the plot beyond the scope of a simple horror story, however, asking probing questions about humanity and our place in the world, bringing us to an unsettling conclusion.
It’s a novel made by its plot-twists, so I won’t give too much away. Suffice to say that with deftly drawn, three-dimensional characters, each perfectly flawed in their own individual way, this is a wonderful breath of fresh air for a genre which was in danger of going the way of the Vampires.
The Girl With All The Gifts was published in the UK by Orbit in January of this year. It is available in Hardback, Paperback, eBook and Audio editions from all good bookstores and online retailers.
Additional thanks to Orbit, who gave me this book whilst I was completing Work Experience in their Publicity department earlier this year. An utterly delightful couple of weeks, which in no way affected the opinions expressed in this review.