Monday, August 18, 2014
The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Girl With All The Gifts
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 is a very special girl.
Zombie stories, we need to talk. It's not you; it's me. This isn't working out. We've had some good times, and you're going to make someone else very happy. It's just not going to be me. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
At first I thought this was going to be a more dystopian book, or something with a surprise twist in it. But once it was revealed that the world "ended" in a zombie-pocalypse, I knew things were going to be rough going. Now, that being said, it isn't fair to judge a book poorly just because it didn't match my preconceived notions.
So let's get into the things that I liked:
1. The characters. Carey does a fantastic job of creating characters with their own goals and fears and forcing them to stick to character. The nearly-sociopathic doctor doesn't suddenly grow a conscience, nor does the hardened soldier spout sonnets. Once you've figured out the characters, there are no mysteries. They all behave they way they should according to their current wants, their past mistakes and their backgrounds. It might sound like damning with faint praise, but it's hard to find a book where the characters are so consistent and logically written.
2. The mood. There is almost always a vague unease around every new location. There is almost always a fight simmering below the surface between parts of the cast. The hungries (zombies) are everywhere, always waiting for their next meal. The atmosphere is bleak, the characters are barely clinging to hope and pretty much everything else is consistent with the end of the world.
3. The ending. I'm not going to spoil it because I'm not 100% a jerk, but basically I did not expect the ending to be as true-to-form as the rest of the book. To write the ending that he did requires some brass balls and kudos to Carey for doing it.
However, this was a zombie book at heart and no matter how well-written, I have troubled investing myself into a zombie book, which is somewhat ridiculous because I'll happily read about talking animals or space battles or dragons. Hell, I love the Oz books. There's something about zombie tales, along with steampunk, that just falls flat for me.
Trying to extract my "ugh, a zombie book" attitude out of this one, I'd still say this book is very well-written and a fun Fallout-style post-apocalypse adventure that most people would like.
And hey! It's not a new series! Yay!
4 stars! (Unless you also don't like zombie books, in which case, probably read something else.)