Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Book Review Club (June 2019)



Welcome to the June edition of The Book Review Club. You're in for a real treat. My critique partner, Kelly Hayes, is in charge of the review on my blog this month.  The Book Review Club will be on summer hiatus for July + August. We'll be back in September. Happy Summer Reading! And, now, drum roll...Take it away, Kelly!



THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS 
by M.R. Carey (adult, science fiction, dystopia)

Before I read The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey I almost wrote it off as just another in a long line of zombie tales. I mean I enjoyed The Walking Dead but only up to a point. Also I made one of the biggest mistakes a reader can make—I saw the movie first. And ,unfortunately, the movie wasn’t great. Even with those two strikes against it, I gave the book a chance. And I’m really glad I did.
            In a dystopian future England, humanity is almost wiped out by a virulent fungal infection. Those that are left are either “Hungries” (flesh-craving zombie predators who move really fast), fungus-free humans, or a new mutation—young Hungries that can think rationally and feel empathy, as long as they don’t smell humans. Oh, and there’s a fourth group, Junkers, humans who are fungus-free but who have completely lost their humanity.
            Helen Justineau is a teacher charged with “educating” a group of these young hybrid Hungries at Hotel Echo, a remote base set up to study this group. Dr. Caroline Caldwell is the one charged with “studying” them. And Sergeant Parks is there to “protect” them all. My quote marks are meant to imply that these characters' jobs are not what they seem. No one is really who they say they are.
            And then there’s Melanie, the adolescent hybrid Hungry with a brilliant mind and tremendous powers of empathy who fixates on Miss Justineau as the mother figure she so desperately needs. Especially when Dr. Caldwell sees her as nothing more than a test subject and Sergeant Parks treats her like a vicious animal.
            The characters in this book are all well drawn, but it is Melanie who is the most sympathetic and the most interesting. As long as she has her Hannibal Lecter-like face mask on and keeps her distance from the healthy humans, she can deny her baser instincts and fool herself that she is mostly human. It’s only when she fully experiences her Hungry side that she wakes up to what she is, and is horrified by it. Pretty existential stuff for a zombie tale.
            To me, that is the real strength of Carey’s book, the existential question at the heart of it. If you were aware you were losing your humanity, would you fight it or give in? And what would be the benefit of keeping it in a world full of predators?
            Because that’s what a good zombie tale is all about, right? The fight to keep our humanity in a world gone insane with blood lust and violence? I can think of few questions more relevant  than that.
            Oh dear, it seems I have developed a taste for a good zombie tale after all.

(Dear FCC: library)

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!

MIDDLE GRADE FICTION BOOK REVIEW

Phyllis Wheeler: SAL AND GABI BREAK THE UNIVERSE by Carlos Hernandez (MG, sci fi)


ADULT FICTION BOOK REVIEWS

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: A HARVEST OF THORNS by Corban Addison

Linda McLaughlin: CARNEGIE'S MAID by Marie Benedict (historical)

Stacy of the Cat's Meow: KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST by J. Ryan Stradal (literary)

Ray Potthoff: SULFUR SPRINGS by William Kent Krueger (thriller)


NONFICTION REVIEWS

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: IN PIECES by Sally Field (memoir)

Margy Lutz: BECOMING WILD by Nikki van Schyndel (memoir)

Patti Abbott:  THE WIDOWER'S NOTEBOOK by Jonathan Santlofer (memoir)

Sarah Laurence: RUTH BADER GINSBURG: A LIFE by Jane Sherron de Hart (biography)



Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!

9 comments:

Jenn Jilks said...

THANKS for hosting, Barrie!

Barrie said...

You're very welcome, Jenn. And thank you for all the work you put into your book review. It's quite the masterpiece!

Lucy said...

Sounds like an interesting book with some depth. Thanks for reviewing.

Barrie said...

Lucy, I read everything Kelly recommends to me. She just seems to know my taste! Anyway, I was a little hesitant with this book, because I generally don't read zombie stuff. But I loved it! Stayed up late reading it!

Sarah Laurence said...

Kelly, thanks for reviewing, but I really don't do zombies. Perhaps a talented author can make it less disgusting, but why couldn't Carey pick a more original subject?

Barrie said...

Sarah, I would normally say the same thing. I don't read books about zombies. But because Kelly suggested it to me, I made an exception. And it's so good. I do think there are original twists and turns and exceptional character development. I think you'd appreciate that about Carey's treatment of this zombie story. :)

Phyllis Wheeler said...

Well, I don't read zombie books either but this one sounds interesting!

Powell River Books said...

I've read several dystopian science fiction books, but only one with zombie overtones. I guess I prefer happy things to read, or at least reality books. Summer is coming and that is my biggest reading season. I'll find a good book to review for September. Have a great summer. - Margy

Lyndi Lamont said...

I'm not into zombies either, but this seems like a cut above the usual zombie story. Glad you and Kelly enjoyed it.

And thanks for hosting. See everyone in the fall.

Linda McLaughlin