cover image The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts

M.R. Carey. Orbit, $25 (416p) ISBN 978-0-316-27815-7

Comics writer Carey (Lucifer) delivers an entertaining take on several well-worn zombie tropes. Years after the requisite zombie apocalypse (this time caused by a mutant strain of an ant-killing fungus, probably the book’s most original touch), scientists in a remote outpost in England are working on a cure by experimenting on a group of zombified children who retain some of their original emotions and cognitive functions. Although Carey piles on the clichés (beyond the apocalypse and the recently trendy intelligent zombies, there are rogue survivalists straight out of The Walking Dead, scientists willing to cross ethical lines, and the ever-silly notion that people would use any term other than “zombies” to refer to the undead), he builds well-constructed characters—particularly Melanie, one of the zombified children, who comes across as cognitively and emotionally different from the other characters, without feeling like an offensive parody of a person with Asperger’s. The requisite action sequences are also well constructed, and the book will appeal to fans of zombie fiction. (June)