Book Club: The Girl With All the Gifts

By Melissa Capozio of @thelittlereadingcorner

In this science-fiction thriller, Carey takes ‘Zombie’ to a whole new level.  It’s the perfect mix of futuristic wasteland and childhood innocence. I must admit this sat on my shelf for a while, but I’m so glad I picked it up when I did. It’s perfect for those colder winter nights when you’re ready to get cozy and read a great book.

The Girl With All the Gifts follows young Melanie as she navigates a post-apocalyptic world she knows nothing about. Melanie and her fellow classmates are treated like monsters: they awake each morning in their tiny rooms, are strapped to chairs and carted into a classroom with guns to their heads. Full of curiosity and a love of Greek mythology, Melanie just wants to keep learning from her wonderful teacher Miss Justineau (even if it means getting yelled at by the soldiers). This routine never changes- until one day all hell breaks loose and Melanie is thrust out into the open to face the truth of her own humanity as well as those around her.

The story takes the wildly common zombie/world virus theme and turns it sideways, tossing in a little philosophical discussion on humanity along with the action. It weighs the age-old argument of ‘for the greater good’ against the concept of self-reliance. Can humanity perform minor atrocities if they believe it will pay off in the long run? Does being human really make you inherently good? Carey’s book is more about character development and existential philosophy than it is about zombies, but he gives the reader an exciting setting to explore these topics. I mean, if I had to choose between nonfiction existentialism and zombie existentialism, I’m going to choose the latter.

The writing and characters hook you from the start and keep you hooked all the way to the unconventional ending (that I would give away in a heartbeat if I could). Carey even takes the time to develop the characters you’ll hate with a passion, and the depth he gives them will make you hate them all the more. If you’re looking for zombies, blood and gore, this might not be the book for you. But if you want to read a character-driven story that also includes zombies and mentally-twisted scientists who will stop at nothing to finish their research, then this is the perfect choice.

There is also a movie adaptation for anyone who might prefer zombies in a more visual format (and with Glenn Close).

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