This review is too long for its own good, written by a girl who hates zombies, and full of spoilers. Here we go!
(view spoiler)[Let's not beat around tThis review is too long for its own good, written by a girl who hates zombies, and full of spoilers. Here we go!
(view spoiler)[Let's not beat around the bush: The Girl With All the Gifts is a zombie book. It's important for me to note this, because I'm a little slow on the uptake, and I started reading it thinking it was a book about a scary girl with supernatural gifts or something Dangerous and Very Cool. I didn't know it was a book about zombies until it was too late, until I was too far in and couldn't back out. That's how they get you. The book I mean, not the zombies. But also the zombies.
I read this 400+ page book in a day, and while that was mostly because it really was a gripping, page-turning read, it was also because I just wanted it to end, so I could know what happened and have some kind of internal resolution, so I could close the book and get the zombies out of my head.
+2 stars for getting me to read a zombie book all the way through. +1/2 star for never using the word zombie - they're called hungries in this post-apocalyptic English landscape +1 star for an interesting, compelling protagonist - a genius ten year old hungry-but-not-quite girl who doesn't start out as the defining feature in all of the characters' lives, but ends up that way -1 star for "arche-typical " (yes, I just made that word up) secondary characters - we had the mother figure Miss Justineau who is given tragic backstory that involves the almost-faultless hit and run of a child a few weeks before the Breakdown. which of course she can use as some kind of internal reasoning for why she feels so maternal over the little hungry girl, when really just regular ol' decency and the ability to look at a braindead hungry and a growing, learning child and know the different would have worked just fine; the brash soldier/hero Sergeant Parks who is mostly defined by the scar on his face and the fact that he's Stronger And Smarter Than You And Also Would Like To Have Sex; and a Christ-child Gallagher, naive, circumstantial in his existence, fearful of the past, fearful of the present, fearful of the future (all for good reason, honestly, I mean I identified with this part of him very much until we got to the Christ part of it where he doesn't want to hurt the other hungry children and allows himself to be eaten alive).
Actually, -1/2 star for the repetitive Christianity references in general. Archetypes on top of archetypes. How arche-typical. (I'm clever, look at me.)
+1 star for stunningly descriptive, inventive, transportive visual imagery -1/2 star for that imagery being disgusting and gross and slightly nauseating because I don't like zombies or even thinking about zombies even if they're renamed hungries. +1 star for the Melanie-voiced narrative to be intriguing in its lack of forthrightness. We were fed information piece by filthy, rotting piece, finding the puzzles pieces, seeing the bigger picture - together. -1/2 star for hearing the author's voice come through when narrating a couple of the secondary characters. -1 star for plot devices out the frigging ass. +1 star for the last fourth of the book, just all of *waves hands about* that -1 star for Justineau and Parks having sex in a loft directly above hungries who only can't get to them because it's a floor up and they knocked the ladder down, in a room that's bare and surrounded by the rotting stench of the hungries around them, after traveling for days without enough sleep, food, water, or ways to be clean. But you know. Nothing gets my gears going like rotting flesh and the moans of the dead waiting to eat you alive. +1 star for Melanie wiping out the human race because they're acting like spoiled children throwing a fit when their turn at civilization is over +1/2 star for Melanie making Justineau leave the relative safety of the research truck, forcing her to breath the infected air and spend what was left of her time on earth teaching tiny monsters Greek myths.
All in all - 3.5 stars for this book. Reading it quickly, feeling the action and the confusion all breathing hotly on my face, it was compelling and - dare i say - gripping. But standing still, and holding it out from me a little way, evaluating it as a whole, things begin to go blotchy. A lot of questions come up, and while some of them don't need an answer (or rather, it wouldn't make sense to have an answer: I'm curious about the political set up of Beacon, but of course we're not going to sit down for a little lecture about it are we), but many of them are just too big to ignore. In the opening action sequences of the book, junkers (who are ill-explained: are we thinking Mad Max crazies? or are they just the outsiders, the post apocalyptic preppers? who knows. We know they're bad because at one point Justineau thinks about their patriarchal society, but that's so one-dimensional) FUCKING CORRAL HUNGRIES INTO A PLACE. Why does that not get more thought? Everyone loses their goddamn minds when it happens, but then it's over as soon as it begins. Why? Why would that be safe? How would that be safe? How would that even work? Where did they get all the hungries from? WHAT THE FUCK.
But anyway. I digress. It'd be interesting to see what a prequel would be like, though I doubt I would read it, because zombies are awful and I hate them and don't want to read about them. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
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