Thank you to Little Brown for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review
Every so often I read a book that totally floors me, like wow WTF did that come from?, The Girl with all the Gifts is one of those books.
It had been on my TBR pile for a while but now it's not and in a way that makes me sad as I wish I could read the story again for the first time but also I am exceptionally happy as this is one hell of a story, I suppose I better stop gushing and start explaining why this is getting 5 stars.
Now the one thing I did not realise about this book before I read it was its dystopian setting, I missed that one! The dystopian-ness (can this be a word?!!!) sneaks up on you, when the book kicks off it isn't apparent straight away when/where the setting is but it soon becomes obvious that something is a little off.
Melanie lives in a world where every day is the same, she goes to school, she learns with her class mates. Normal, right? Well not quite, she travels to school not by bus but under armed guard strapped down in a wheel chair from her cell. This is not a normal school and Melanie is not a normal little girl.
She is exceptionally clever and loves to learn, she watches and takes in everything.and everyone. She especially loves the time spent with her favourite teacher Miss Justineau. She is the nicest and most playful of the all the teachers and Melanie feels protective towards her, the feeling is mutual.
Melanie notices that her class mates disappear from time to time, where do they go and why do they never come back? Does the creepy Dr Caldwell know anything about it? What is wrong with Melaine and her classmates, why are they kept under lock and key, why do soldiers watch their every move?
Well lets expand this world further, well there is not much world left for a start, what's left is the compound in which Melanie and her friends are held, with a small amount of soldiers and civilians, it is an island in a sea of horror. The population has been attacked by a virus which has turned most of them in to rampant zombie-esque creatures but some of them are different, some still have their full faculties despite the fact they crave flesh. These exceptions appears normal, they could be anyone, they could even be a little girl.
The story does not stay within the confines of the compound, shit does hit the fan and Melanie, Miss Justineau, the horrible Sergeant Parks and Dr Caldwell form an unlikely team as they journey away from danger in to extreme peril.
I can't really tell you any more about this story because it'll get spoilt for you, but what can I tell you? It is just incredible, our motley crew struggle on their way keeping out of the way of the "hungries" who would have them for their next meal, staying out of the road of the junkers who sound like something straight out of Mad Max and also keeping out of the way of each other, tensions are running high, their lives are at stake, can they find a safe haven?
The Girl with all the Gifts is simply immense, I read the last hundred or so pages last night, I was glued, it pulls at your heart strings, prepare to have your emotions put through the ringer. Also prepare to be scared!
I love dystopia but this is nothing like I have ever read before, I feel a little bereft after finishing it but in the words of Dr Seuss "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened". Read it!