Both Nick and I read the first in this series, The Girl With All the Gifts, and were really impressed by it. If you haven’t read it, think zombies with a distinct, unsettling twist. So, as you might imagine, we were both gagging to get our mitts on the next book, The Boy on the Bridge. Here’s what we both thought of it.
What’s it All About, Then?
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.
Lucy: How smug were we at getting our copies of this, eh Nick?
Nick: Totally. And I can imagine that it’s already proving popular with readers. I really enjoyed it, what about you?
Lucy: Yep, me too. It was total page-turning bliss for me – in fact, I don’t think I’ve been so keen to know what happens in a book in a long time. I just had to find out!
Nick: It was a compelling read, there’s no doubt about that. I felt it was a really character-driven story; and because I was so invested in the characters, I really wanted to keep on reading.
Lucy: Yes, there are some incredible characters in there; notably Greaves, the autistic 15-year-old. For those who haven’t read the book, Greaves is the youngest member of the crew on board the Rosie, and he’s also the most resourceful and intelligent, by a long way.
Nick: That’s what I loved; that he was this quiet yet powerful force in the book. Every scene that he was in, I found myself totally hooked.
Lucy: Yes, especially when he first encounters the young gang of ‘hungries’ and studies them to learn their behaviour. It’s a tense, nail-biting moment, and was written with such conviction. What did you think of the other main character, Rina Khan?
Nick: I liked the dilemmas that she faced throughout the book, and let’s face it, her trajectory path was not one I saw coming, and I bet you didn’t either.
Lucy: No. Tragic and powerful in equal measures. I felt perhaps there were one too many characters though, and that a few were so stereotypical, it was slightly frustrating.
Nick: You’re referring to McQueen, aren’t you?
Nick: I loved McQueen! He was so over-the-top masculine, like a cross between Avatar’s Colonel Quaritch and Blain from Predator. I felt he was a great foil to Greaves’ earnest, serious nature.
Lucy: I found him a bit annoying, to be honest. I wanted to see a different side to him, which never quite came through. However, it was a minor niggle, nothing more. Let’s talk about the Hungries, shall we?
Nick: Oh, the Hungries! They were a great plot device, as they added such a lot of tension and drama throughout.
Lucy: And they’re such a repulsive invention too – slack-mouthed, vacant humans that have been taken over by parasitical fungus…yuck. I loved how they were depicted though, as simply standing still like a tree unless they detect movement or scent, then suddenly pouncing. Chilling stuff.
Nick: It feels like it could happen though, doesn’t it? I mean, knowing what fungus behaves like in the real world.
Lucy: Absolutely, and that’s why the concept is so spooky, I think. How did you find the book’s pace?
Nick: A little bit slow to start with, but then it stepped up big-time about halfway in.
Lucy: That’s so funny, I’d say exactly the same thing. Mind you, I didn’t object to the slower start, I felt it built up the anticipation nicely.
Nick: You know me, I like to get to the meat of the book!
Lucy: What would you rate The Boy on the Bridge, then?
Nick: I’m going to go for a very enjoyable, gripping 4 / 5 Stars. You?
Lucy: I’m tempted to say 5/5 Stars, because I enjoyed it so much. Yes, let’s go with that!
Nick: Good results all round!