Fear the day you hear that someone’s making a film of The Girl With All The Gifts , because with Hollywood’s track record for extracting all subtlety from a novel, it’s bound to end up looking like a mutant hybrid of 28 Days Later and World War Z . It’s not a zombie novel, but that’s how someone will pitch it to the suits.
Indeed, the middle third– the weakest section – is pretty much Zombie Flicks’ Greatest Hits territory, with a bunch of post-apocalyptic survivors (including the tough soldier and the evil scientist) trying to avoid “hungries”. Doesn’t sound promising, does it?
However, both the claustrophobic opening in a military facility for “special” children and the climax – where the body horror and grotesque concepts leap to a new level – are excellent. The other main twist here (apart from the fact that the hungries are not zombies, but victims of a strange fungus) is that one of the survivors is a Hungry herself, but an intelligent self-aware one with a (possibly) lesbian crush on her teacher.
That may sound crass, but far from it. The character work here is exceptionally well crafted and Carey tackles ethical problems with refreshing sensitivity too. The Girl With All The Gifts may be slightly padded and saggy in places, but read it now so you can moan later about how it was butchered for the big screen.
Dave Golder twitter.com/DaveGolder
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