Imagine a world where humanity as we know it is gone. A fungal parasite has taken over the brains and bodies of people of all ages and no-one is immune. This invasive species turns people into zombie-like creatures who must eat flesh to survive. They are basically incapable of thought, with all of their actions driven by the need to feed.
There are a few exception to this, particularly in the young. The military and a female scientist are trying to figure out what makes these children different. The most outstanding is a girl who not only demonstrates high intelligence, but also emotion, compassion and love.
When a group of rogue, violent humans break into the military camp, the people most interested in the exceptional mutant girl take her and go on the run. Most of them want her to survive, but not all of them.
I am not generally a fan of shuffling, drooling, brain eating zombie books and movies. But The Girl With All The Gifts transforms the typical zombie theme into an exploration of what makes us human.
Recommended for readers of Thrillers and Post-Apocalyptic fiction.
Publication Info: Published February 11, 2020 by Bellevue Literary Press. I read the Kindle Pre-Pub edition courtesy of NetGalley. Other editions now available.
Summary: A man and his daughter live alone at the edge of a forest. The man’s wife died a few months after the girl was born. As the girl grows, her father teaches her the skills she needs to survive in the wilderness. She learns to hunt animals for food, using the skins for clothing and bones for tools and weapons.
On the solstice each year the girl’s birthday, her father takes her on a pilgrimage hike up the nearby mountain to visit the woman’s grave. He gives her small birthday gifts. Usually it is something her mother once owned, sometimes it is something he made for her. When the girl was small, he carried her on his back. Now, at twelve years old, she is strong enough to climb the mountain with him.
The year she turns twelve, the man also decides that it is time to head to the ocean in search of salt. They prepare for a long journey, packing essentials. The man decides to leave his bow at home, telling the girl that she is a good enough huntress now to supply them with meat. This becomes a fateful decision when the man meets an unexpected danger.
Alone, the girl must learn to draw on her training, inner strength and resources to survive. A bear becomes her companion. He guides and instructs her on what she needs to do to survive the long, cold winter away from home.
Comments: The Bear is a remarkable post-apocalyptic fable. I don’t remember ever reading anything quite like it. The detailed descriptions of nature and it’s bounty are breathtaking. Despite the ending of humanity, it is a book full of hope.
Highly recommended for readers of Literary Fiction and Post-Apocalyptic fiction.