NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING.
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.
This book caught my eye while in Waterstones and as I was was walking round with it, two people stopped me and told me it was brilliant (this I why I love bookshops) the bookseller at the till then told me it was excellent plus a few more people on social media told me that I was in for a treat. And how right they were, it is an excellent book and so deserving of the hype.
Melanie is collected from her cell five mornings a week by Sergeant Parks. She is made to sit in a wheelchair (even though she can walk) and has her hands and feet restrained and finally a restraint around her neck. She cannot move and can only look directly ahead of her. She is then taken to a classroom with the other children where she hopes the teacher will be Miss Justineau as she is her favourite. This is all Melanie has ever known; she has no idea why she must be restrained; why she is kept in a cell and why most of the adults around her are clearly terrified to be in her presence.
The Girl With All the Gifts is a dystopian tale; I'm not a huge fan usually but I very much enjoyed this book. The world has been taken over by Hungries (think The Walking Dead) and there are not many humans left. Melanie and the other children at the b
ase have been infected and would devour humans if given the chance yet they are also different. They are not 'zombies', they still think and feel but the humans have no idea what to do with them other than lock them up in order to observe their behaviour.
M.R. Carey has created a group of fantastic characters with so many layers to unravel. As you get into the book, there is so much to think about, some of the characters who I initially thought of as villains are seen in a different light or act in an extraordinary way. I was pleased with how many surprises there were in this book.
There is a strong thriller element to this story too. Some of the scenes were terrifying and there is plenty of gore. This all added to the tension and the desperate situation that the author is exposing you to.
I adored the relationship between Melanie and Miss Justineau, it is the main driving force to show the humanity still within Melanie. Her relationship with Miss Justineau represents hope an the possibility of a future for those left in the world.
I highly recommend The Girl With All the Gifts; it was so different from what I normally read but I was completely taken with it. Since finishing the book, I have found myself thinking about it many times; the questions it raised are not easily put to bed.