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Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: The Girl With All the Gifts

May 11, 2015

Introducing Melanie, the smartest of a group of children being taught in an underground facility. They have a variety of teachers, some cold and calculating, others loving and caring like Mrs. Justineau. Mostly, they learn about literature and Greek myths. They are no tests. In fact, the children are all strapped into chairs, escorted by armed soldiers, and treated like animals.

Melanie has a genius level IQ, and a fondness for Mrs. Justineau. In fact, she falls in love as only a child can.

But something is not quite right with these children. On occasion, one is taken out of his or her cell, and wheeled away never to return.

Dr. Caldwell oversees all of this, and she doesn’t see them as children, just objects to be observed and experimented on.  

The world outside is completely changed, and Melanie does not remember the world before the room she lives in.

When disaster hits the base, Melanie sets out with her favorite teacher and a small group of soldiers to try and find others - or at least to survive.

So what happened to the world? Well, I can’t tell you! If I do, it would give this whole book away.

This is a post-apocalyptic novel of a different variety. Without giving too much away, it takes an old idea and gives it a good twist. When the characters finally venture out into London, they run into a group of children like Melanie - only they have survived on their own. In a very Lord of the Flies kind of way. In the end, Caldwell (sick and near dying) abandons the group, Parks (the sergeant in charge) dies, and Mrs. Justineau becomes a teacher once more.

It’s really hard to talk about this book without completely giving away the story. What I’ve given here is just very vague details, because I really think you should read it! This type of fiction has gotten very prolific lately, and sometimes it is hard to pick the gems from the trash. This one was definitely a gem.

The writing itself was very emotion provoking for me. You are in a world where everything has ended, and people are just finding a way to carry on. Scientists, trying to understand. Scavengers, adjusting to life as they can, even if it makes them murderers. This is life, after massive death.

In the end, Melanie makes a hard choice. But, faced with the future she was looking at if she didn’t, it was, perhaps, the only choice she could make.