I don’t know how it came to be that I have now read 2 Zombie books in a row - the whole shuffling zombie thing does nothing for me. Perhaps it is that these books - firstly, Raising Stony Mayhall and then this one, The Girl With All The Gifts are about zombies that have retained their humanity and the tales are about how their efforts to try and be human rather than embrace their animalistic instincts.
Raising Stony Mayhall reads mostly like a YA book and while it managed to keep me vaguely interested, it was at best mildly entertaining. But this book, The Girl With All The Gifts, is really great.
The characters are all well developed and evolve realistically throughout the story.
Basic plot revolves around a girl called Melanie who is a zombie but has retained her humanity. I'm not usually a fan of the breed of child characters who are the hero / heroine of the story, but Melanie is a perfect and believable mix of naïveté, resolve and strength. Along with a group of other similar children, she is kept in an institution where she spends the vast majority of her days chained to a chair and muzzled like a dog. As part of ongoing experiments to work out why these children are different to the bulk of humanity afflicted by the virus they are either schooled or dissected to be studied.
After an attack on the institution, her former captors are forced to have her travel with them seeking safety in the post apocalyptic world as it is possible she is the last remaining "specimen".
The tale flows at a good pace and while there are no real surprise twists or turns, the story builds to a really satisfying ending. As I neared the end, I was hoping the book wasn't going to end lamely having been so good all the way through and it was a relief that the author was able to come up with a good solid and not necessarily feel good ending.
Highly recommended - 4.5 out of 5.