A Book Review
The Horror director Joe Dante (Gremlins) once said if you wanted gauge a measure of decade then look at the Horror films they made at time, or words to that effect. Zombies are every where at the moment , TV , books , video games and even Lego had some Zombies.
M.R Carey embraces the zombie Zeitgeist. In his novel The Girl with all the gifts. Although they aren’t not called zombies no they are called hungries. And they are stalking the home counties like a an accountant that can no longer afford London.
Carey has taken the zombie in popular culture and melded something rather special from it. One part walking dead (I am not a fan of), one part Romero’s Day of the dead and one part the last of us (one of the most emotionally charged video games made – also with a zombie premiss). With a touch of 28 days later.
Carey’s main theme centres around the arcing story between teacher Helen Justineau and Melanie the aforementioned Girl with all the gifts. From student and teacher on a post collapsed military base but Melanie isn’t a normal child. Sub-plotted with Melanie’s relationship with Sargent Parks and Dr Caldwell. There are others but for me the relationship between these three are the stand out for me.
The story becomes classic Zombie/post apocalyptic fair. A military trying to hold to what they know, relationships between a group of people who would normally avoid each other down the local pub, A Dr needing to know more and the typical gang of outcast and survivalist know as junkers (think Mad Max beyond the thunder dome).
Carey uses the normal plot device of moving his characters from one safe location to another, along the lines of the walking dead and he could have easily fallen in to that territory, but manages to keep the pacing to the point where the reader wants the gang to move on and finally reach that safe place.
Although a number of the familiar plot devices and stereotypes are there which in hindsight could have made this another Zombie story. Carey manages to use these to his advantage both giving the reader a safe narrative and unfamiliar paths. Carey also writes his characters that the reader wants to route for them and are willing to forgive them for anything. Even when one admits to the murdering of a child.
The book excels in not only turning a familiar story around but it also explores relationships, love and the desire to survive when the chips are down.
The book resonated with me, but then that maybe I live near one of the areas mentioned in the story. I am looking forward to Carey’s next work.