Once again skimming the depths of my Audible wish lists, I found another I’d been meaning to get to for quite some time. I’d read The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey a number of times on the Kindle, but I’d forgotten all but some of the broader strokes of the plot of this one. Set several years after the zombie apocalypse sweeps the globe, reducing the population to a few handfuls of people living in infection-free isolated communities or as survivalist cults, the story focuses on a group of children who are infected but still retain their higher functions.
Melanie is an incredibly intelligent pre-teen (I want to say about ten years old – I’m not sure if that’s canon, but that’s what it stuck in my head**) who is strapped to a chair every day, hands, legs, and head bound so she cannot move. She, along with a group of around twenty other children, attend school classes in the underground stronghold of the military base where they’re kept. The kids might just be the answer to the zombie problem, or so the slightly psychopathic Doctor Caldwell thinks. If only she could slice their brains cleanly enough to get an idea.
When all of this comes under threat, Melanie, along with the teacher she idolises, Miss Justineau, plus the awful Doctor Caldwell, Sargent Parks and his sidekick private, escape from the base and head across the country to the safety of the gated community of Beacon. Along the way, everybody discovers just what it might mean to be human in this new world.
The narration by Finty Williams was excellent, and the production was decent. A little on the high-end (at least through my headphones) which got a little annoying occasionally, and the occasional background noise, but otherwise, okay.
I felt there were some unanswered questions in the end, but the central plot was wound up. I know there is a second book in the series, but I don’t think I’m keen on starting that. I liked how the story ended and am happy to leave it there. This was heartbreakingly good at times, where Melanie’s enthusiasm for life kept getting trampled down by the realities of the world, yet still, she had hope.
** After recording the sample for this review, it is indeed said Melanie is ten.