Unputdownable. A convincing, eerie take on the zombie apocalypse genre.
When I first heard about The Girl with All the Gifts, I wasn't convinced. Zombie-lit really isn't my thing, and I was fully prepared for my preconvieved notions to be proved correct. Ha... how wrong could I be?
After enjoying the first so much, I was naturally desperate to get my hands on the second, and full of high hopes, which were fully and gloriously realised.
The Boy on the Bridge follows the crew of 'Rosie' - a tank-like vehicle on a mission to investigate the situation with the 'hungries' (that's zombies to you and I, but more on them later), and to try to find evidence of an antidote, or a place to survive them.
There are a few major complications, though. For starters, the crew are not one big happy family. MQueen, a military man with a sizeable ego, is hugely irritated by Greaves; a scientist who behaves irratically throughout. Dr Fournier, who is leading the mission, clearly has something to hide. And as for Rina Khan? Well, she's pregnant, and with zombies waiting to chow down on human flesh at any moment, that's not ideal.
When out on a rekkie, Greaves discovers some hungries that behave differently to the usual mindless zombie. They're kids, for one - and secondly, they act with intelligence and occasionally compassion. He suspects the answer to their problems lies with these children, and studies them closer, without the knowledge of the others.
Without spoiling too much of the rest of the book, what follows is carnage and chaos, with more than a small dose of tragedy. However, whilst it seems to end on a bleak note, the final page holds a message of hope, which throws the future of humankind into a different light.
Right - let's start with what's great about this book (which was pretty much everything). The truly outstanding thing is the author's ability to weave a convincing, gripping story. I was turning pages like nobody's business, and couldn't put it down. His use of science also added authenticity to the tale - and at no point was I struggling to suspend my disbelief. When writing about zombies, that's a hard thing to pull off. Likewise, I was immersed in all the characters (though there were a few that felt a bit ineffectual), and cared about their fate.
As for negatives? Can't think of many. There were a couple of characters that I'd have liked to see fleshed out a little more, but other than that, I can't complain.
If you're looking for a real page-turner, with a mature, thought-provoking exploration of the end of the world, you can't go wrong with this.