I am facing a dilemma writing this blog post. There is really not much I can tell you about The Girl With All The Gifts without giving it all away. And yet, I must write about it for 3 terrific reasons.
First, this is one of ten titles on the 2016 Flume Book Award list. Every year New Hampshire’s 9th-12th graders nominate their favorite titles from the past two years. Previous winners have included Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Divergent by Veronica Roth. Voting occurs every October and it is always interesting to see how Portsmouth teens vote compared to the rest of the high schoolers in the state.
Second, this is the Teen Literary Club’s inaugural book pick for the 2016-17 school year. Did you know there is a book club at Portsmouth High School? High-school-aged homeschoolers are welcome to attend too! Each month we discuss a book from a genre- graphic novels, memoirs, historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, etc. Every month I walk away thinking about the book in a new way after our rich conversations. I’m confident that The Girl with All the Gifts will generate lots of ideas and discussion. Feel free to ask me more about the TLC if you are interested!
Third, this book is quite remarkable. There is no way to truly describe this book without giving away a million spoilers. It starts off somewhat predictably for a dystopia- Melanie is a 10 year girl who loves school. She loves math and stories – especially Greek Myths. She also loves her teacher Miss. Justineau. But of course, Melanie is no ordinary girl and this is no ordinary school. Melanie and her 21 students all live in locked cells in a locked bunker. The teachers are brought to school under military escort and the children are brought to class under gun point, strapped to wheel chairs. What could possibly be so terrifying about a group of school children? What has happened in England since “The Breakdown” that could make adults treat children with such hostility and fear?
Of course, I cannot tell you anything more without completely spoiling the story. Told from the perspectives of multiple key characters including Melanie, her teacher Miss. Justineau, Sargent, and the ruthlessly driven Dr. Caldwell, this book has vividly drawn characters and the perfect balance between action and thought provoking yet subtle dialog which makes this a true page-turner. I’d recommend this for anyone who likes to be yanked from their seat and taken to a whole new world which turns upside down the idea of what it means to be a human.
Mollie is a Library Assistant in Youth Services. While she generally doesn’t love the dystopian genre she’ll read anything if it is a good story. If you have any must-read title suggestions please send them to email@example.com.