‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ was hailed as one of the great books of 2014 and after finishing it during the week, I have to agree.
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.
The story is a complex story that made me experience a flurry of emotions as Melanie is essentially the bad guy of the story but how can you dislike an innocent and sweet little girl?
It takes place years after a huge outbreak and the human race was wiped out leaving behind ‘Hungry’s’ zombie like creatures that crave human flesh and blood. Melanie is in a secure unit with other children and each day they are wheeled to their classes and taught about the world before the outbreak. Melanie loves class particularly her teacher Miss Justineau, who reads Greek myths and shows some affection and warmth towards her unlike others who keep her at bay. Miss Justineau gives Melanie hope, that there is life beyond the four walls.
There are five main characters in the story Melanie, Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks, Dr Caldwell and Private Gallagher, who all find themselves on the run when one day the base is attacked. Sergeant Parks has grown to hate creatures like Melanie and finds it hard to adjust without in her usual restraints and feels threatened whilst they try to get to safety with limited protection. He’s outspoken, loud and feels pressure to protect the small group. Dr Caldwell is hated by Miss Justineau who wants to protect Melanie, as the doctor has previously killed a lot of children with her research, Melanie is afraid of the calm and quiet woman who is fascinated by her and finally there is Gallagher, a young and timid man who hates the way his life has turned out, regularly he looks back and his reflections make for heartfelt reading.
The characters are a brilliant team and make for fascinating reading as they all fight for survival, the dynamics often change within the group as new realisations come to light and Melanie finds herself becoming the unlikely protector of the team. The backdrop of the story is set against a damaged and ruined dystopian world in Britain, it’s bleak and hopeless but this small team give a tiny chink of hope as they all fight for their lives.
It’s hard to review this book, as it would be very easy to give it all away with its many twists and turns and I’ve probably said too much already! But I have to say how much I loved Melanie, an innocent girl who has a sweet curiosity about life and knows the difference between right and wrong. She struggles with her emotions and the things she sees and her primary focus is protect Miss Justineau, a woman who only sees her as a little girl and not a threat.
An originally, gory and gripping story, that had my full attention throughout, ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ is a gloriously unexpected terrifying and poignant story that has an absolute sweetheart of a lead.
You can buy The Girl With All The Gifts from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.