I just finished reading The Girl with All the Gifts, by M. R. Carey! This was not exactly YA - more of a general sci-fi book about a not-so-distant future in which zombies have taken over. Totally not my type of book, usually, but I heard so much about this one that I just had to pick it up.
(Searching for the cover art, I just realized this was made into a movie! I might take time to watch it if I'm bored!)
"Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman."
This book was nothing I expected, and a lot more. I did have a few problems with it, but overall, it was an enjoyable, intense read that was difficult to put down.
The first thing that struck me about it is that it's in the present tense. At least in YA, it is quite unusual to read a book in which everything is narrated as it is occuring. This brought a new angle to reading that I'm not used to, but it also made it a very cinematic experience. you discovered things along with the characters, and saw their actions as they played out. It was actually quite refreshing to read in the present! I did some research and found that Carey is/was an author for DC/Marvel, which you can really see in this book through the way it's written.
The characters in this book were difficult to pinpoint, personality-wise. Melanie, the main character, was the most vivid. She was a smart girl who only wanted things to be good and sunny. She was actually adorable at her worst. Although she is a zombie, she acts and thinks like a normal child. But when the time comes for her to eat someone to save her teacher, Miss Justineau, the narrative keeps shifting from how gory it is to how much she's enjoying it. The wierd thing is that although she realizes that this is not 'normal', she's all sunshine and rainbows and shiny-anime-eyes when she first discovered eating.
Miss Justineau is strong-minded and protective, but I would have loved to know more about her past. Through the book there is a feeling that her past before the zombie apocalypse may not have been very bright and sunny. This is one thing that I think having the book written in the present missed out on - we were missing out on backstories, which is something I think is important for character development.
One character who goes through a lot of development is Parks - this man is completely military, and a real leader. He at first believes that everyone would be better off and safter if he killed Melanie, however he grows to trust her and show affection for her.
We also have Ghallager, who was my favorite of the group - he's a young guy who is learning how to be a soldier under Parks. I could feel a real personality from him. Have you guys ever seen Pocahontas? You know the kid-setteler who John Smith teaches to shoot? I kept imagining Ghallager as him!
Finally you have Caroline (ugh hate reading about characters with familiar names), who is a scientist (aw yeah!) in search for a cure against the zombifiying fungus. She is often seen as the misunderstoon villain of the story, as she wants to kill Melanie to find a cure.
One thing I did NOT like about the book was its end. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but goodness it fell so flat in my opinion! But to be fair, it was 'realistic'. Depressing, but realistic.
Overall, this book was fast paced, constantly shifting and moving, with interesting characters and plot, but I wish there could have been a bit more backstory and a more drawn-out ending
I'm giving this a 4/5 feathers! Worth the read, for sure!