I do love a good zombie story.
From the blurb:
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
Melanie loves her classes, loves her teacher Miss Justineau. In class she learns about the world outside, the cities and towns of before. Before the hungries started attacking people. Melanie learns about history, geography, art and science but what she loves most of all are the stories.
Mostly the stories Melanie hears are about Ancient Greece, myths and legends about God’s and hero’s . Stories about girls like Pandora, whose name means “all gifts “, who opened the box that let out all of the evils of humanity, or Theseus, who killed the Minotaur.
Melanie dreams of a time when she will be able to save Miss Justineau from a terrible monster, so that Miss Justineau will love her back, and keep Melanie with her always.
Melanie knows that she is special, but she doesn’t know why the soldiers are afraid of her. She doesn’t know why some of the kids in her class keep going missing. She just knows that they go through the door to the outside, and it has something to do with Dr Caldwell’s tests…
That’s all I’m going to say without giving any spoilers. If you’ve seen the film The Girl with All the Gifts you might know more about the general story, but the book is very different, as is usually the case.
The relationship between Melanie and Miss Justineau is beautiful, and sad. They are both damaged in different ways, and have a need to protect each other. Their friendship stems from kindness, which is wonderful. The soldiers in the basement have to see Melanie as a thing, something to monitor and be scared of, so that it becomes inevitable that Melanie will latch onto the one person who shows her some humanity.
The Hungries are people infected by a strain of Ophiocordyceps, a parasitic fungus that takes over the person, and causes them to attack other people to spread the infection. Most of the infected become mindless, savage, well.. zombies. If you’ve played the game The Last of Us, this concept will be very familiar to you.
I highly recommend this book, it is beautifully written, well researched and thought out, and the ending is just brilliant.
Let me know if you’ve read this book, seen the film or are a fan of The Last of us.