The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey
Melanie is a child and also a high-functioning ‘hungry’, a fungus-infected zombie who, unlike the majority of hungries, still has her mental faculties intact and can control her urge to eat people.
Melanie, her teacher Helen Justineau, and a group of survivors escape from a military compound after it is attacked by hungries and ‘junkers’ — mad-Max type humans who live outside the base.
The escapees must make their way to safety at Beacon, the nearest human survivor outpost, before they are killed by the junkers, the hungries, or Melanie herself, if she can no longer control her hunger.
Mike Carey gives us a superior zombie novel in The Girl With All The Gifts. With engaging, likeable characters, who grow and develop as the story unfolds, the author provides a really gripping page-turner, which you are guaranteed to not want to put down. The flowing, easy prose and short chapter lengths encourage that ‘just a few pages more’ feeling, which keeps you reading.
Despite being a potential killer, Melanie comes across as a sympathetic character, who by the end of the novel has reversed her relationship with her teacher and is now protecting Miss Justineau and instructing her how to survive outside the base.
Also part of the survivors group are Dr. Caldwell, who would like nothing better than to dissect Melanie and examine her brain, Sergeant Parks, who is paranoid that Melanie will kill them all before they reach safety, and Private Gallagher, the green recruit who just knows he is not going to make it.
All the characters are well-written and they all undertake their own developmental journeys as the story progresses to a finale which is either tragic or hopeful for the human race, depending on your point of view.
A must-read novel for the zombie enthusiast. And watch out for the movie, due for release in September 2016, with a screenplay by the author himself.