My assignment is done and over! I was a little sad to see it go, in the end I really enjoyed my topic, and working on it every day. It has also occurred to me that in the last fifteen or so days I have read three novels alongside all of the research and writing I’ve been doing. Which is a little crazy I’ll grant you, but I’ve never been known to do things by halves. So, The Girl with all the Gifts.
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting from this novel but it certainly wasn’t the novel I read. I wasn’t expecting something that I would particularly enjoy, I wasn’t expecting to be sucked in for hours and be unable to put it down even though my eyes burnt with tiredness and it was the small hours of the morning. But this is what I got. This novel is without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had all year. This is a novel for a long train ride, this is not a novel if you are reading on the bus because you’ll miss your stop. You can try and sit for a short time and read it, but it will force you to rearrange your plans, miss your meetings or lectures and will generally ruin your social life until you finish it.
The novel follows Melanie on her self discovery of what and who she is in a world gone to hell thanks to the fungus, Ophiocordyceps. Yes, that’s right, the zombifying fungus has skipped forward in its evolution from taking down insects to taking over the majority of humanity and has turned them into ‘Hungries’. Mindless, zombie like, seeming only to experience the desire to feed on uninfected flesh, the Hungries roam the last of Britain while humanity is locked up in tiny pockets of civilisation. This is not your typical gunslinging Zombie novel though, as Melanie is ten, and although she knows a lot she doesn’t quite know why she’s locked in a cell or why her keepers are so careful around her.
As good as this novel is though, the least far fetched and most logical ending was the novel’s conclusion. But that doesn’t really take away from the story or feel particularly anti-climatic. The characters are a diverse mix, some you hate, some you love, some you come to have affection for. The perspective through the novel is also not fixed on any one individual and moves around so you have the advantage of different perspectives and different knowledge. Among the survivors Melanie ultimately travels with is a Scientist, a Teacher, and a drill Sergeant, this novel has the advantage of multiple perspectives on the ‘Breakdown’ of society as well as very conflicting perspectives about Melanie.
The story is very intriguing and enigmatic, I am a little disappointed that I got through it so fast as now I do have a book-hangover. This is a gentle sci-fi novel, leaning towards the dystopian. The title ‘The Girl with all the Gifts’ is a reference to the myth of Pandora opening the box when she knows she shouldn’t and there is a very lovely overarching symmetry between the myth and Melanie, but I won’t say anymore. Or I will ruin it.
I would without a doubt read this novel again.