When the key turns in the door, she stops counting and opens her eyes. Sergeant comes in with his gun and points it at her. Then two of Sergeant’s people come in and tighten and buckle the straps of the chair around Melanie’s wrists and ankles. There’s also a strap for her neck; they tighten that one last of all, when her hands and feet are fastened up all the way, and they always do it from behind. The strap is designed so they never have to put their hands in front of Melanie’s face. Melanie sometimes says, “I won’t bite.” She says it as a joke, but Sergeant’s people never laugh. Sergeant did once, the first time she said it, but it was a nasty laugh. And then he said, “Like we’d ever give you the chance, sugar plum.”
The first time I heard about M.R. Carey’s novel, The Girl with All the Gifts, it was because of a movie trailer. This frightening and all-too-real story of a world gone to Hell is being released as a film this month. In the trailer, Melanie is a young, “gifted” girl living on a military base with other “gifted” children. They go to school and learn about a world that no longer exists. They are studied and researched and kept in cells. And they are never, ever to be touched. Enter Ms. Helen Justineau, a teacher who takes a particular liking to Melanie and vice versa. Ms. Justineau is kind, a teacher who loves her students, which could get her killed.
This book is hard to review without spoiling so I will do my best not to give anything away. The premise is different from some of the dystopian books I’ve read in the past and there were parts of it that made me pretty damn tense. Some of the characters made me angry, specifically Dr. Caldwell (who will be played by the amazing Glenn Close in the film). She is a scientist who doesn’t let Melanie’s seemingly normal appearance get to her and will accomplish her goal no matter what.
One of the main things I liked about Carey’s book was how well he was able to go from Melanie’s point of view to the adults’. It never felt strained and the fear the adults had when the shit hit the fan and afterwards was a little too real. Dr. Caldwell’s one track mind was agonizing, frustrating and also very easy to understand. She had a job to do and was going to do it. But it’s Melanie’s realization of who she really is and what the world has become that stood out. Her awakening was exciting and sad at the same time. That’s as far as I’m going with this review. Just read The Girl with All the Gifts for yourself. I definitely recommend it.
The film of the same name will be released in Canada and the United Kingdom this month. No word on when it will be released in the U.S. In the meantime, click on the link to the trailer below.