Just another pretentious word used to avoid using the common, cliche word. Aka ‘review’. Yes I can be arty farty like that.
So what am I reviewing?
The Girl With All the Gifts.
M. R. Carey.
WARNING: Contains spoilers. Do NOT proceed if you are unwilling to read spoilers. You have been duly notified. Enter at your own risk.
A girl. A teacher. A soldier. A scientist. Lots of Hungries. And a world so familiar, yet so devastatingly foreign, consumed by the tendrils of mycelial doom.
Does she have all the gifts? Yes indeed, for in her mind the secrets of this apocalyptic universe stay hidden, stagnant, waiting to be unlocked.
Readers, I struggled against myself to buy this book. I had a tottering pile of books in my arms already, my change was running out, it had started to rain. But the pros were shoved circumstantially in my face. It was ever so cheap. And the lady who wanted to get rid of it was enthusiastic that I would enjoy it, despite clearly seeing a ‘Little Men’ and a ‘What Katy Did Next’ wedged firmly in the crooks of my arms.
The bright yellow cover and scarlet inner cover were plastered over with short, sweet, compelling little sentences, little nudges, like a babble of eager voices clamouring for me to take a big, fleshy bite out of this so-called universal wonder.
IF YOU READ ONE NOVEL THIS YEAR, MAKE SURE IT’S THIS ONE.
TAKES HOLD OF YOU AND DOESN’T LET GO.
AS FRESH AS IT IS TERRIFYING.
Which, I am pleased to say, it was.
Naturally curious, I decided to buy it, and read it. I read it across the Channel, rocking to and fro in a tight little cabin. I poured over it whilst waiting in queues, drinking coffee, travelling on coaches until finally, slumped over a crisp hotel bed, my husband complaining about the clothes I bundled up and threw into the wardrobe in my eagerness to get back to the story, I turned the last page.
But the page turner ended with an anti-climax. I don’t know why. I should have expected the ending, because really what else could have happened?
Truth is, I was awaiting a monstrous, thunderous ending. One which would leave my soul shattered, my heart in pieces on the ground, crunching beneath the literary feet of this magnificent work of art.
The writing was quick-paced, enticing. When I began the story, I knew as much as the child protagonist did. I learnt with her. Which I thought was a brilliant way to go about world building. We do not learn of the apocalypse until the point of view shifts from the child to the adults.
It appeared to be the same old ‘zombie apocalypse’ situation that has taken over entertainment media by a storm, from TV series like ‘The Walking Dead’ to video games like ‘Resident Evil’. Dead people, chasing living people for their flesh.
The only difference was that M.R. Carey decided to give a plausible, believable reason for this illogical feeding frenzy. I won’t go into specifics because SPOILERS but I thought the explanations were remarkably on point and actually interesting enough to keep me invested and ‘hungry’ for more.
The world building was solid, vivid. The dilapidated ruin of roads and buildings, left untouched for two decades, the emaciated, frightening appearance of the hungries, their mechanical, inhuman feeding patterns, the way humans had to tiptoe past them because they only responded to sensory interruptions, a mechanism used by the pathogen inhibiting their brains to zero in on its prey; the absolute chaos of the world, the junkers, the makeshift city, fungal takeover.
I suppose the reason why I felt dissatisfied by the ending was because there seemed to be so many threads left dangling! Who are these junkers? What happened to the junkers on their trail? What happened to all the junkers anyway? Why didn’t we get to see Beacon? Why had the communication stopped? What happened to Charlie? How was Rosie abandoned really? Was everybody dead? What happened in the future? Was Miss Justineau really going to be resigned to that meagre job for the rest of her life?
I recommend this book, readers, I do. I just think there could have been more.