Carey, M.R. The Girl With All the Gifts. Orbit, 2014.
Melanie loves school and soaks up new information like a sponge. She is inquisitive and has the IQ of a genius. She would also do anything in the world for her wonderful teacher, Miss Justineau. So why is she, along with a roomful of other children, kept strapped to a wheelchair instead of being able to run and play? And why don't the guards laugh when she tells them that she won’t bite? Melanie and the other children are “hungries”, or zombies. However, when most of the population has succumbed to the parasite that has changed them, these children still have human traits, emotions, and an elevated level of intelligence. They are even able to control, to some extent, their desire for human flesh.
Every now and then Melanie notices that students disappear from her classroom and never return. It is revealed that the children are test subjects for a project run by Dr. Caldwell, a scientist employed by the British government. She is in the process of cutting portions of their brains and studying how the parasite affects them.
When the base is attacked by “hungries” and “junkers”, violent human nomads, Melanie, Miss Justineau, and Dr. Caldwell flee in a humvee driven by Sergeant Parks, the head guard at the base, and Private Gallagher, another guard. They must work together and get along to try to reach the city of Beacon safely. It may be the only town left in all of England.
This fast-paced novel is intended for adults, but I consider it to also be a crossover novel for young adults. In the summary, it is not revealed to be a zombie novel, but readers will make that discovery by the end of the first chapter.
Pandora’s Box, Melanie’s favorite story, plays a big part in the plot, hence the book’s title. Relationships are significant, especially the one between Melanie and Miss Justineau. Readers will learn a lot about zombie science and the way the human brain operates. The novel is filled with action and adventure--there are chase scenes, shootouts, and gruesome, gory deaths. The story is told in multiple points of view, and the characters are interesting and mulitfacted.
Readers will enjoy this new, refreshing take on zombies. I recommend it for high school and public libraries and give it four out of five fleur de lis!