In some ways, this is an almost impossible book to choose to review, because there is a large degree of 'reveal anything, and you reveal it all' to talking about it. By the same token, that does the author a disservice, because if you actually went by the synopsis, the information presented by any of the major booksites (and yes, this includes you, my beloved Goodreads) or in fact half of the blab that has been written by other readers, you would assume this was a book about a completely different subject, and with a very different protagonist.
Facts: Yes, The Girl With All The Gifts is set after an apocalyptic event that has decimated humanity, leaving it in tatters. Yes, there are zombies. This is not a spoiler, by the way; I know several people who picked this up not realising this information from said synopsis, and who would never have even started reading it had they known. So - be warned, if the walking dead don't float your genre boat, then this book definitely isn't for you. Finally, yes, bad things happen to good people. Again, it isn't a happy happy joy joy kind of read, but the zombies may have tipped you off to that.
The Plot: This is where it gets a bit tricky biscuit, but I will do my best. The Girl With All The Gifts is set in a post-apocalyptic Britain, and the protagonist - or heroine, if you will - is a 10 year old girl, Melanie, who attends a special school... from the comfort of her very own cell. She is treated with disdain, often with cruelty, and at best apathy, by the majority of her teachers, with the exception of her Myths and Poetry teacher, Miss Justineau, with whom she has a very special connection. Her memory is limited to life within the confines of the school; her cell, the corridors, the classroom. The outside world is a foreign bewilderment of Humanity and Hungries (cue zombies). That is, until it isn't.
"The horror of the unknown is more frightening than any horror you can understand"
Divided into two parts, this is at heart a book not about a post-apocalyptic world, or zombies, or even a commentary on societal norms when shit gets real. It's a story about what it means to have humanity, at a time when being 'human' carries a lot of weight. It is also a book about love, and identity. Melanie is a remarkable character. This is a remarkable book. Yes, I guessed what was going to happen, but so what? It didn't spoil the story for me in any way, and I also couldn't stop reading it, despite some 'ergh' moments.
By the way, the author of The Girl With All The Gifts is actually Mike Carey, who writes for Marvel Comics (X-Men: Legacy) and DC Comics' imprint Vertigo (Lucifer and Hellblazer).
THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
KINDLE, PAPERBACK, HARDBACK, AUDIO
EIGHT OUT OF TEN
READ IT IF YOU LIKE:
ANDY WEIR, GILLIAN FLYNN, CLAIRE NORTH