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
In a world where a sad nice guy whose mean wife divorced him for an ambulance driver, who can save the day? The new and improved Manic Pixie Dream GirIn a world where a sad nice guy whose mean wife divorced him for an ambulance driver, who can save the day? The new and improved Manic Pixie Dream Girl, updated for today's late twenties/early thirties adults to include extra nerdiness, wrinkles around the eyes as only a thirty year old could have, and knowledge of shaving! Do you wish you had a slightly fucked up girl to make you her motivation and project? So does this author! Join his wish fulfillment today by reading this book!...more
Interesting, disjointed, ridiculous, entertaining, stupid, cliche, sweet. These are the words I think of when trying to describe this book.
I commenteInteresting, disjointed, ridiculous, entertaining, stupid, cliche, sweet. These are the words I think of when trying to describe this book.
I commented at one point, very close to the end, "This book should just be called Rookie Continues To Make Stupid Mistakes And Somehow Lucks Out Of Problems." He's like the trust-fund kid of the fantasy world. Someone's always there to bail him out, and he acts moody and petulant and endangers those around him when things don't go his way. By a quarter of the way into the book he has the fanciest most prized weapons anyone has ever seen ever and still can't manage to not walk into a trap, much less swing a sword with any semblance of accuracy. But he has a hero complex to put batman to shame, with added self-made tragedy that just ended up feeling like childishness. He cried a lot.
Cooley tells multiple stories at once, some of them incredibly random (including a lovely, if confusing for placement, story about an ogre gaining intelligence and his little pet squirrel), and introduces characters and drops them off again at an alarming rate.
It might make for an excellent d&d campaign, but it was a bit disorienting as a story, as every time I thought I got the hang of the story telling, it would change. The characters don't have super concrete personalities except for the strongly-troped ones, and there were little comments that indicated to me (the reader) that I was supposed to pay attention to something and then.... Nothing happened and that arc closed. And my god, the dialogue. The best parts of the book were when no one spoke.
That said, it was a pretty fun fantasy tale. The monsters and creatures were my favorite; they were described well and we got to follow some of them in their own habitat to watch how they interacted with their world, which was fascinating. I'm interested in seeing if any of the many loose ends get tied up in the later books, or, the biggest question of all - does Cooley learn how to have a female character that does not fit into one of two basic tropes? Tune in next time to find out!...more
Imagine a manic pixie dream girl - she's not like other girls, she's not obsessed with being pretty or skinny or wearing makeup or nice clothes, but tImagine a manic pixie dream girl - she's not like other girls, she's not obsessed with being pretty or skinny or wearing makeup or nice clothes, but that's okay because she's just naturally very attractive anyway. Imagine that she has come to decide throughout her life that there are two types of girls: girly girls (bad), and smart girls Who Care About Things (good). The two types are mutually exclusive. Now imagine that she writes a book, in first person, of her extremely pretentious thoughts, mocking and subtly undermining other girls' appearances and desires to make herself seem More Different. That is the premise of this book. And it sucks.
I really hope that in the rest of this book she has some growing moments, and maybe stops being extremely dualistic and superficial, but I couldn't get past the awful, bland writing, including astoundingly stupid dialogue like,
"You like to build? I figured that out, see. Because of the whole carpentry apprenticeship."
Actual line of dialogue as spoken by our heroine, who lets you know multiple times in the first seven pages that she is different, not a damsel in distress, strong, etc.
It was actually really upsetting to me for this book to be a flop. I was home schooled all through school, up through high school, and went to a university when I graduated. I did not particularly care for nail polish and pink dresses and fashion magazines. That's fine. But I did like to wear lipstick on occasion and do "girly" things (what even does that mean, anyway? Why is catching a snake not girly?). The book just forces this weird me and them attitude with girls that is super harmful, and continues to press girls into one of two fairly extreme camps. It's okay to be "smart, opinionated, independent, and ready to take on a new challenge" as the jacket cover says, without vilifying other people. Or fitting a specific mold. Because what the author has created here is actually, ironically, not a "different girl," but another in a long line of characters who "aren't like other girls," hitting cliche after cliche of what's "counter culture" and "revolutionary." You know what would be revolutionary? Letting people exist however is comfortable to them and not holding yourself as if you are better than them because of some weird arbitrary standard....more
There are certain books that grab you by the shoulders, twist you around to look at something, shake you, and go, "LOOK AT IT." Then there are those tThere are certain books that grab you by the shoulders, twist you around to look at something, shake you, and go, "LOOK AT IT." Then there are those that walk beside you, pointing out little facts of the day - the sun is out. there are five pairs of shoes by the door. there is a white footprint against the cream ceiling. It asks that you follow but it does not force; its emotions press against you like a child's hand in your own. This book is one of the latter category. Celeste Ng captures the evocative feelings of loss and yearning and desperation so quietly and surely until you realize that the entire story has unfolded in your lap and while life doesn't make sense, neither does death, and your answers remain your own.