Monday, September 19, 2016

Book 67: I'm not a fan of zombie stories but I can make an exception.

I don't remember how I heard about The Girl With All The Gifts. At this point on my reading list, there's books that go back several years and I don't always even remember what the books are about when they become available for checkout. That was the case with Girl, which I downloaded after having put it on the list about 10 weeks ago, so I didn't really know what to expect when I started listening to it.

The book starts out awesomely, with a slow, creepy introduction into the weird life of the main character, Melanie.  Melanie, as we are introduced to her, is an ordinary 10-year-old girl who likes school, has a few friends, thinks her teacher is the greatest, is kind of obsessed with Greek gifts, and who happens to live in a small cell from which she is wheeled every morning, hands and legs and neck strapped down by leather restraints -- just like every other kid in her... class.

From there the story unfolds pretty quickly, so this is only mildly SPOILERY: the world has fallen apart after a fungal infection has caused most people to turn into the sort of zombies that are all the rage these days: quiescent until provoked by smell or movement, then murderously fast and strong and full of a burning desire to eat meat.  The zombies in this book are called "hungries," and Melanie is part of a group of kids the military is studying to try to determine why the kids seem somewhat immune to the fungus.

I'm not a fan of zombie stories, as a rule, but this one is worth it. The first part of the book is told mostly from Melanie's point of view, and the details of her life on the army base where they're studying her are frightening and eerie.  The book gets even better once some of the surviving humans use the hungries to raid the base, causing Melanie, two soldiers, a teacher, and the scientist leading the whole study to set out on a journey to reach "Beacon," the last surviving outpost of humanity -- which may not exist anymore.

A good part of Girl is made up of the stuff you'd expect from the story: abandoned cities, infighting in the group, sudden attacks, that kind of thing. I'm not opposed to that, provided that it's done well, and Girl is done well: good writing, enough twists to feel fresh.  After the first, great, part of the book, the middle could have been a letdown but it carries through.

The last 1/3 picks up again, and vaults the book into excellence.  What happens when the small group has to go through London -- and how the story finishes up, as a whole -- was completely unexpected.  There's a scene very near the end involving just Melanie walking around at night, and it's one of the strangest, best, weirdest scenes I've ever read.  Then, the final ending of the book just made me think oh man oh man.

The book has been made into a movie, to be released actually this Friday in the UK, at least. Here's the trailer:

Totally worth reading. I hope that movie comes out here. Looks like they captured it perfectly.

1 comment:

Andrew Leon said...

I'm not quite sold.
I kind of hate the whole zombie thing, especially the ones that are fast and super strong and whatever.