The Horror Honeys: Horror Book of the Month Club – Girl with All the Gifts

Horror Book of the Month Club – Girl with All the Gifts

A Hardcover Honey Book of the Month with Jocelyn

 Girl with All the Gifts - M.R Carey

If you’re a fan of the Horror Honeys, it’s a given that you like zombie stories, right?  

If so, you should run (don’t walk) to pick up The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey.  Intense, cinematic, suspenseful – probably my favorite Hardcover Honey read since Bird Box – and if you know how much I loved Bird Box, you know what a compliment that is.

Melanie is a 10 year old child – and an extremely smart one at that – as the book opens, we are introduced to her and her unique living situation. Melanie lives in a cell, you see, and every weekday, she is secured to a wheelchair with restraints by a Sergeant Parks and his team, then wheeled into a disinfecting shower and then a classroom full of other similarly restrained children, where she learns from a variety of teachers. Her favorite of these teachers is Miss Justineau, the sweetest and most personable of the teachers and the one who treats the children most humanely. Miss Justineau days are Melanie’s favorite days. Saturdays are described as “long and dull and hard to get through”.  Sundays are like Saturdays, with the addition of “chow time” which consists of bowls of grubs “all squirming and wriggling over each other” – ick. The children eat just once a week, don’t need water, don’t need bathroom breaks, etc – what is going on here? Not only that but occasionally a child or two is taken from the classroom to be seen in Dr. Caroline Caldwell’s lab – and is never seen again.

It quickly becomes clear that Melanie and her fellow classmates are prisoners on a military research base, and that it’s been decades since what they call “The Breakdown” wherein hungries (read: zombies) took the world down. Outside the walls of the base, danger lurks around every corner, if not from hungries then from “junkers,” a savage group of survivalist humans. Inside the base, Dr. Caldwell has been tasked with studying Melanie and her type to try to find a cure. Melanie, you see, is a hungry too – but a kind never seen before. She can think, she can feel, she can reason. But, put an untreated arm in front of her face and she will start to drool, snap at her restraints and feel an intense hunger driving her from within.

The opening chapters here are SO good at world-building – we really get a sense of the bleakness and futility the adults feel and confusion poor Melanie experiences when she asks questions that don’t have answers.  Eventually, of course, Dr. Caldwell calls for Melanie to be brought to her lab, where she intends to take brain samples and all kinds of other terrible things.  The lovely Miss Justineau comes to her defense and the battle lines are drawn internally – at the same time, the base is invaded and everything rapidly goes to hell.  Left on the run is a tiny motely group that includes Melanie, Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks, and a young soldier named Gallagher.  They set out for what they think will be a town still standing, and it’s during their journey that the story kicks into even higher gear. Can they trust Melanie not to eat them? Can they trust Dr. Caldwell not to try to dissect Melanie before they reach their destination? How will they find food, water, and shelter from hungries on their way?

I loved nearly every page here, as the narrative view flits from character to character. And the ending is truly a thing of beauty, the equivalent of watching an incredibly talented gymnast stick a difficult landing.  Read it.

Hardcover Honey verdict: 4.5. out of 5 little zombie geniuses for this excellent read!