Review: The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey

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.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I think by now most people probably know what this book is about but in case you don’t and don’t want to be spoilered this would be a good place to stop reading.

The girl with all the gifts is heart breaking, life affirming, terrifying and all round enjoyable. A great take on Zombie fiction with people, animals and the planet in general being over-run with an out of control strain of the cordyceps fungus that takes over brain and motor function of the infected.

At the heart of this book though is a very human story – that of a little girl who wants to be loved by someone – in this case her teacher Miss Justineau who is the one person Melanie feels a real connection with.

Around that there is the overwhelming terror of those as yet unaffected by the fungus in a world that is increasingly so and the lengths people will go to in desperate circumstances.

Without giving away the end of the book, I will say I thought the way it ended was brilliant, not what I expected at all but perfectly fitting.