What a refreshing novel this is. The Girl With All the Gifts centers on a young girl named Melanie, who lives in an underground bunker. She attends class five days of the week, then on the weekends gets to eat a meal of grubs and take a chemical shower. When she’s not in class, she remains strapped to a chair in a cell. Meanwhile, the outside world is full of “hungries”, people who have become infected with Ophiocordyceps, a fungal infection, and have a predilection for human flesh. One day, things go tits up and Melanie, along with her favorite teacher Miss Justineau, a cruel Sergeant, a soldier, and the head lab technician, must try to find their way to a safe zone.
This is a unique take on the zombie genre, and the characters are deep and nuanced. I came to love Melanie and Miss Justineau, and understood why the Sergeant and Dr. Caldwell, the lab tech, are as cruel as they are. This is a bleak, desolate novel, yet it also manages to imbue hope in the journey it leads the reader on. My only gripe is that some sections felt too stretched out, while others didn’t feel long enough. Otherwise, this is a beautifully written, thought-provoking novel that hungers for you to devour it.