52 Books, Week 2: The Girl With All The Gifts

First up, let’s be honest: I’m a tiny bit tipsy right now. I’ve just been out with my coworkers for our ‘Christmas’ meal (come on, we work in retail; we’re not going to get a Christmas meal at actual Christmas!). But I’ve decided to do this blog post every Sunday, so while it’s still Sunday, it’s getting written!

The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey

Start date: Sunday 10th January

End date: Sunday 10th January

Reread/New: New

Yes, you read that right: I read it in one day. That’s a day where I had to work, too; I read it in a couple of hours when I got home, after starting it on my half-hour break and being so captivated I could hardly put it down. It’s not a short book – it took some dedication but honestly, I really couldn’t stop until I could find out what happened.

I only picked this up in Waterstones on a whim; it has a bright yellow cover and stood out to me from a table in the sci-fi section. When I took it to the till, the guy who served me was so excited about the book I decided it would have to be the one I read first this week – he just managed to grip me with his enthusiasm.

‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ is a post-apocalyptic thriller – a genre that I’m very interested in at the moment seeing as I’m trying to write one myself. It features zombies (though, as appears to be fashionable at the moment, the word ‘zombie’ is never mentioned), and plague, and doom and destruction and all those good things. It came out a couple of years ago, and apparently the person who wrote it is some kind of Marvel big shot (I had no idea of this when I bought it – I did literally judge the book by its cover).

This is a book that, while it is focussed largely on the effects of a plague that destroys much of humanity, gains most of its addictive qualities from its characters: the enigmatic Melanie and her relationship with Miss Justineau, a proxy mother-daughter situation that really grips you and makes you root for the pair of them to survive through their various trials and tribulations. They have to try and normalise the abnormal, something that always makes me want to keep reading. It fascinates me – probably because there’s not a lot abnormal in my own life at the moment!

The characters really were the best part of this story – the main plot point is a journey from apparent safety, through near-certain peril, to an unknown future. So far, so normal for this genre. Without the characters, it would have faded into obscurity. Melanie, Miss Justineau, and particularly Parks, who I loved. Even Caldwell, who while she was somewhat deplorable, you could appreciate the detailed motivations of her character. It reminded me a lot of Justin Cronin’s The Passage, even though the situation of the plot was very different.

Would I recommend this book? Most certainly. Go and find it if you have any interest in post-apocalyptic fiction or zombies, or anything really. You might find it’ll surprise you.

Other Books From Week 2

Tooth and Claw – Jo Walton

Paper Towns – John Green

How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend

All rereads, all much-loved. After the somewhat weighty main read I had this week, I wanted a few chilled-out favourites to keep me occupied through a bit of a difficult week. If nothing else, please go away and read Tooth and Claw, it’s basically Pride and Prejudice with dragons, and a must for all lovers of fantasy and feminism.

I don’t think that’s gone too badly for a post where I’ve had a couple of beers too many (including Cormoran Strike‘s favourite, Doom Bar) and I’m watching Call The Midwife with a stack of home-made fudge. I’ll try to be a bit less distracted next week!