Saturday 19 July 2014


A terrible, wonderful, heart-breaking story about hope and humanity and a young girl who tries to save the world.
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her 'our little genius'. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant 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 loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

I started hearing good things about this book about a month ago, but I had no idea what it was about and kept it that way by not reading any reviews. The title didn't give anything away, and neither did the cover. Now that I've read the book, both of them are huge clues to the heart of this story.
Melanie is a very smart girl. She loves school, is comfortable with her routine and has a huge crush on one of her teachers. Miss Justineau enjoys teaching her class, but they're not normal kids and she certainly isn't part of an average school. Sometimes, she almost forgets just how dangerous these kids really are. Sergeant Parks performs his job every single day, and is in charge of getting the kids to and from the classroom. Dr. Caldwell is a scientist obsessed with finding a cure that will save the dead world they live in. And she's willing to sacrifice just about anything to complete her precious research.
The day she decides it's time to experiment on the smartest kid in the class, the walls of their secure army base are compromised. Junkers invade with an army of hungries as their main weapons. Life behind the secure walls of their base is shattered. Now these handful of survivors are on the run: a hungry girl unlike the others, a teacher with her own past secrets, a Sergeant and a Private who commandeer a Humvee, and the crazy scientist. Dr. Caldwell might almost lose the use of her hands in the struggle, but she's still willing to survey what's left of the world as valuable additions to her research.
Together, these five very different individuals are forced to run from relative safety while trying to stay ahead of the violent junkers, and doing whatever they can to avoid being eaten by the hungries. But as they head back towards the one place they all initially came from but secretly despise for their own reasons--with limited supplies and a kid that could lose it at any moment--they instead find themselves in the middle of a new and very different threat.
Wow. This book was amazing! Really, it was. I was hooked as soon as I started reading, and couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. Even though the story starts out in a seemingly familiar way--with a child who loves school and her teacher--it's soon obvious that there's a whole lot more going on in this very dark and dangerous world. After all, most kids aren't strapped to wheelchairs for their lessons, or will be overcome by the desperate need to eat their teachers if their human scent isn't chemically-covered.
The story is told in the POV of all five characters, so we get to find out how each of them feels and inwardly reacts to all the events that unfold. I especially enjoyed spending time with Melanie, because in spite of what she is, she's an amazing character with a very gifted mind and logic.

The world they inhabit might reflect a familiar apocalyptic wasteland, but there's so much more going on.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a thrilling, tense ride that keeps you guessing all the way through. It's a unique addition to a genre that I love. You keep wondering what's around the corner, and might even try to guess what's about to happen next, but you won't. I loved the unpredictability of this book, and how it surprised me all the way to the very fascinating end. Also, I got a kick out of the obvious parallels made to the myth of Pandora.
I loved this eerie book!

The Girl With All The Gifts, July 2014, ISBN  9780356502847, Orbit

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