M R Carey is a pen name (not a mysterious one at all) for Mike Carey, comic book writer and other projects and so he has written this critically acclaimed zombie fiction. The zombie apocalypse has already occurred, quite some time ago and in this novel it is referred to as the Breakdown. Every piece of zombie fiction has it's labels for aspects of the zombie apocalypse. In this the zombies are called Hungries. And they are not quite the braindead, fleshy, plodding creatures that we are used to.
The book opens in a scientific military complex where children are kept captive and sometimes get wheeled away never to appear again. Miss Justineau is one of their teachers and she forms a close bond with one of the captive children Melanie. It becomes clear that the children are different and Dr Caldwell sees them purely as test subjects, available for dissection. Parks, a gruff soldier is seemingly untouched by events at the compound and is a soldier first and foremost.
Anyway, one night Miss Justineau, Melanie, Caldwell and two soldiers Parks and Gallagher have to escape the compound together. And so begins a journey to another military compound where they think they will be safe again and Caldwell is determined to continue her research. She is searching for a cure to the zombie infection, but she is bloody minded in her approach and sees nothing but the end result. Far from being the dangerous burden of the group, Melanie proves herself to be the saviour.
Y'know, I like zombie fiction in its myriad forms. And The Girl With All The Gifts has enough novelty and innovation to make it stand above the derivative masses, but it didn't always hold my attention. The most interesting aspects in the story are not given enough weight to make an emotional impact. There's just too much plot driving here rather than spending time on the innovative aspects - such as Melanie's response to the wider world, her struggle to come to terms with who she is. That said, it's a good solid read with skillful story-telling and well worth picking up.