The Girl With All The Gifts is one of those mysterious books that doesn't really give anything away in the blurb, which simply reads:
"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."
Having heard so much praise for this book, along with a quote from Joss Whedon on the cover, I was intrigued enough to pick it up.
Now here is where I'll put a *spoiler alert* so if you don't want to spoil the mystery stop reading!
The book was actually totally different to what I was expecting. It turns out it was a pretty dark post apocalyptic horror, set in a future Britain where most humans have either caught a fungal infection changing them to 'hungries' (essentially zombies) or have been eaten by them.
The book follows it's five main characters Melanie (an intelligent form of hungry who is able to learn and speak), her teacher, a scientist who is obsessed with learning about the infection and finding a cure, and two soldiers. The fact that these characters are all interesting, fully explored and flawed gives the story a more human touch and certainly makes it more enjoyable. Personally I think that is the books saving grace, which sets it apart from the usual zombie survival stories.
Throughout the book there is an interesting point raised, as Miss Justineau the teacher becomes emotionally attached to the child hungries, Whilst Dr. Caldwell simply sees them as test subjects who she can experiment on to help understand the virus. We see both sides to the question Caldwell asks Justineau "Which will do the most good in the end? Your compassion or my commitment to my work?" The book definitely throws up some questions to think about, and overall I found this an enjoyable read.
(If you are a fan of films like Contagion, and 28 Days Later then read this!)