The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey

The Girl with All the Gifts / M. R. Carey (Powell's Books)

 M. R. Carey masterfully balances narrative and exposition, sharing details and knowledge of the world the characters navigate with a purpose to the plot and the action immediately at hand.  The characters are convincing in their and sympathetic, even if unlikable.  I was quickly drawn into the story and stayed entranced through the end.

The Girl with All the Gifts is the story of the extinction of humanity, and just maybe what comes next.

I am not big into horror (my preferences for LARP settings aside).  I can read terrifying stories without issue during the day, but inevitably as I try to go to sleep my imagination goes into overdrive.  So for me to find a zombie novel about the end of humanity and love it is unusual.  The Girl With All the Gifts was like nothing I had ever read before, so I put it into the reading list as the July pick for the Virtual Speculation Bookclub.  I honestly don't have a really in depth discussion list, but I think it's a great book to read and share.

Discussion Fodder:

  • Did you have any expectations going into this book?  Were they confirmed, were you surprised?
  • What do you think of the setting and world building?  Do you find it believable or too fantastical? 
  • The main characters in the story are all products of their environment, all desperate and flawed.  What do you think of the characterizations and character growth?  Are there villains?
  • Melanie loves the story of Pandora, in what ways does The Girl With All The Gifts mirror the myth of Pandora's Box?  Do you think it's a fitting analogy?
  • The 'hungry' children clearly show intelligence and reasoning, yet they are viewed as not only inhuman but as unthinking and not worthy of names.  Do you think this is a defensive measure, or a state of denial?  Are the children human, or are they something completely other?  How important is the distinction between the children's ability to think and reason versus the full hungries' unreasoning instinct?
  • Did Melanie do the right thing by triggering the spore release?  Are the children humanity's last hope?
  • Zombies traditionally represent various societal flaws and fears, in particular overwhelming mindless consumerism and forced conformity/erasure of individuality.  How does The Girl With All The Gifts match or differ from these metaphors?