When I bought this book I had no idea what it was about. I had seen it advertised and knew it had been made into a movie, but I didn’t know a thing about the plot. I simply read the short blurb on the back of the novel and thought, “Yep, I like the sound of that.”
The story takes place 20 years after a fungus has overtaken the majority of mankind, turning them into mindless, soulless husks of their former selves. These hungries – as they are called – roam the land and feast on people whenever they can. They are verocious, fast, but not very smart.
In a military base far from the Beacon – a place where uninfected humans reside – a group of children hungries are being closely monitored in a classroom-like environment. They are exactly like human children in appearance and intelligence, but they have to be kept in cells, strapped into wheelchairs, and have an insatiable appetite for human flesh.
One such hungry child is Melanie, the smartest of them all. She accepts her life the way it is, she doesn’t know any different, and eagerly awaits the days that her favourite teacher, Miss Justineau, is in class.
Miss Justineau knows that the children aren’t human, but her compassion gets the better of her and she bonds with Melanie, saving her from the operating table of Dr Caldwell. Unfortunately, the day Dr Caldwell chooses Melanie for dissection is the day the junkers – rogue humans who choose to live outside the Beacon – take down the base and kill everyone they can.
Melanie, Miss Justineau, Dr Caldwell, Sergeant Parks and Private Gallagher all manage to escape, but they face uncertainty and peril as they make their way over rolls of countryside toward the vastly hungries populated city of London.
During their journey, Melanie learns more about herself than she could have in any classroom. She discovers why she, and the other children, are so different to other hungries and what this means for the remainder of the human race.
This novel is fast-paced and gripping. Like all zombie-type stories it is unpredictable, leaving the reader wondering who’s going to die, who’s going to turn, will humans or zombies prevail? The Girl with all the Gifts takes it to another level, leading it’s readers to ponder what is so different about Melanie. Is she a “goodie” or a “baddie”?
The ending is thought-provoking and shines a light on how arrogant and self-righteous the human race actually is.