the girl with all the gifts

The last month and a half (yeesh) I have been listening to The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey during my rehearsal commutes. I started it mid-October as something to put me in the mood for Halloween, and despite the long period it took for me to get all the way through, I really enjoyed it. From Goodreads:

Not every gift is a blessing…

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end..

I think that everyone by now knows the “spoiler” on this one—”jokes that she won’t bite” is basically the giveaway that Melanie is a zombie. Or is she? This character was so much more, and this book was not what I was expecting at all, in the best possible way.

The Girl With All the Gifts unfolds beautifully and terrifyingly from a limited view of the world (through Melanie’s eyes, her cell and makeshift classroom in a bunker at first) to how we have come to this point in human history. I loved that Carey has a carefully thought-out, original explanation as to what wiped out humanity, when most zombie stories omit such details. The four main characters aside from Melanie—Justineau, Caldwell, Parks, and Gallagher—begin as broad stereotypes but as the story progresses, each reveals individual personalities and self-histories that create tangible depth in each of them. Melanie’s innocence, above all, is fascinating and kind of horrifying at the same time. And I loved the ending! It went further and expanded to more than I could have ever guessed.

I really wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get through. I feel like I missed a few parts on audio, and that very well is just my own fault for taking so long. I suspect that if I had been reading it on paper instead of listening on audio, I could have (ahem) devoured The Girl With All the Gifts in about a week. I will probably end up buying a paper copy and rereading eventually. It’s a thrilling, fast-paced, engrossing novel and I definitely recommend to fans of post-apocalyptic horror!

Listened to audiobook from October 18 to December 9, 2014.

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

A little late to the party today! It was a very busy weekend. Saturday night I played an orchestra concert, and last night I went to an author event sponsored by Rainy Day Books: Cary Elwes speaking about his new book, As You Wish, a memoir of behind-the-scenes stories from the making of the now-classic film The Princess Bride. It was a wonderful event! There was a short documentary screening, period-appropriate music, a sword fighting demonstration, and of course a discussion with Elwes about the book and his experiences making the movie. With admission I got a hardcover copy and a place in line for an autograph. When I got to the table, Elwes noticed my Packers shirt right away and gave me a high five, saying “Go Packers!” and that Aaron Rodgers was a fan of the movie, too. So cool! Can’t wait to sink into that book next 🙂

After failing at two classics, this week I am starting two new (and I mean NEW!) books:

First, The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey became available off the wait list from my library’s overdrive, so I downloaded it and will go with that one for my rehearsal commutes the next couple weeks. I like it so far—pretty creepy and it has me curious about what the hell happened in this world to these kids. Fits in with the Halloween spirit, but not so much with my all-women authors accidental theme I had going for October… oh well, who knows, this will likely count for November anyway!

Second, I started Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. It’s been getting high praise from bloggers whose opinions I trust, so I ordered it a few weeks ago. I’ve had very little time to read much lately so I’m only one essay in but it’s already blown me away. Looking forward to having a good chunk of time hopefully soon to really dig in—I feel like I could devour it in one sitting if I had the time for it.

What are you reading this week?

the walking dead compendium one

My husband received a copy of The Walking Dead Compendium One by Robert Kirkman last year for Christmas and I thought it would be a good choice for the “graphic novel” genre of my Eclectic Reader Challenge. From Goodreads:

Introducing the first eight volumes of the fan-favorite, New York Times Best Seller series collected into one massive paperback collection.

In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living. With The Walking Dead #1-48, this compendium features more than one thousand pages chronicling the start of Robert Kirkman’s Eisner Award-winning story of zombie horror, from Rick Grimes waking up alone in a hospital, his band of survivors seeking refuge on an isolated farm and the controversial introduction of Woodbury despot, the Governor.

I don’t have much experience reading graphic novels, and the ones I have read didn’t make much of an impression on me (WatchmenBlack Hole). Something is just missing for me in graphic novels, and I don’t become very emotionally invested. After those two books, I felt just fine never reading another graphic novel again (and yes, I certainly do count them as “real” books and see the appeal). While I enjoyed The Walking Dead Compendium One more than any graphic novels I’ve read before, I still kind of think they’re not quite for me.

Of course, with the popularity of the TV show (of which I’m a fan), it’s impossible not to compare, but fortunately the books are different enough from the show that you can enjoy both without frustration that the show isn’t more like the book and/or vice versa. Characters in each may have the same name, but nothing else in common as far as personality or story line. I did wish the women were stronger in general—Lori and Andrea are better in the books than the show, and Michonne is equally kick-ass in both, but the rest of the women in the book are pretty weak. Several characters were downright annoying (Maggie and Glenn… whom I love on the show!). This may be just me and my lack of experience with graphic novels, but some characters (especially the men) I couldn’t tell apart and would forget who they were… however in general they were more three dimensional (ironically!) in the books than the show.

The artwork seemed pretty par for the course in my limited experience, with a handful of really impressive full-page spreads. I thought the detailing on the zombies, making each one unique, was particularly well done. There were a lot of dynamic, action-packed sequences throughout, and the main point of other people being the real threat—not zombies—was driven home well. One thing that came through shining clear in the book that didn’t in the show for me was that our motley crew fighting for survival in this new, terrifying, desperate world are the walking dead—not the zombies.

While again, I’m not sure I’m hooked on graphic novels after this, I was definitely hooked reading this collection. I can’t say I’ll make a point to read the subsequent compendiums (so many other books on my TBR to get through!) but I do recommend this first one for horror and post-apocalypse fiction lovers! It was a great warm-up to the next season of The Walking Dead TV show premiering in October.

The Walking Dead Compendium One is my graphic novel for the 2014 Eclectic Reader Challenge, and marks 5 of 12 completed on the list.

Read from August 26 to September 6, 2014.