“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.”
Author: M.R. Carey
Publication Date: June 19th, 2014
If you want to hear our spoiler-y discussion, don’t miss this week’s podcast!
Twenty years after the Breakdown, the end of civilization as we know it at the hands of the hungries (zombies), ten year old Melanie lives in a cell and only leaves for class and for her weekly feeding and chemical shower. When the soldiers come to move her and the other children to class, they are strapped into wheelchairs while one of the soldiers hold them at gunpoint. After disaster strikes the base, Melanie begins to realize what she is and tries to figure out how her and her traveling companions fit into what is left of the world.
The story starts out feeling a lot like any other zombie book where the main zombie character has some semblance of consciousness and/or does not want to hurt people. It asks the same questions many other zombie stories does: what makes us human? Is a zombie that craves flesh but can think for itself and show compassion for humans any less alive than non-zombies? And then it tugs on your heartstrings a little more by making the hungry in question a child.
The characters in this book are wonderful. Melanie is absolutely brilliant but still a child in many ways. She wants more than anything to be protected and loved but is self-aware enough and intelligent enough to know what her future has in store.
Dr. Caldwell is a great character to hate, her obsession with her research goes so far that she no longer sees things in a moral light and solely from a scientific standpoint. Sergeant Parks is a soldier first and foremost and can only see the danger that Melanie poses. Helen Justineau was Melanie’s favorite teacher and the most willing to see and treat her as human but, opposite from Parks, is the most unwilling to accept the danger that is Melanie.
Most of the amazingness and what sets this book apart from other zombies stories comes in towards the end. The fact that the disease that caused the Breakdown is based on a fungus rather than a virus or bacteria changes everything and it is great.
I was enjoying this book a lot anyway but the last few chapters really nailed this book for me as a favorite zombie story (right up there with World War Z!).
I wished I had finished this book. From our discussion on the podcast, this book flips the zombie genre on it’s head in the later part of this book. I loved the parts I did read and I hope to see a lot more from this author or tmi need to find more of their work.