$30 Trade Paper
M.R.Carey is a kind of pseudonym for Mike Carey, the acclaimed writer of Lucifer and Hellblazer (now filmed as Constantine). He has recently completed a comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and is a writer on Marvel’s X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four. He comes from Liverpool in England. This is his first regular novel. It’s the characters that resonate in this thrilling tale of parental love in a dangerous world.
Melanie is the girl of the title. She’s one of about 20 other children who go to class and are taught many familiar things by various teachers, like most children. She is super intelligent and tries to make sense of the world from her very limited experiences and the lessons she has to attend. She’s in love with Helen Justineau, a teacher, but she’s not keen on Sergeant who locks her up at night. Unlike normal children Melanie is chained to her desk, wears a muzzle and is locked in her cell every night. We gradually learn that the children are all infected with a fungus that has turned most people into mindless zombies, the Hungries, who only act to feed ravenously on animals of any kind including people. The fungus has invaded the world and the children live in a bunker complex with soldiers to control them, teachers to test them and scientists to analyse them. We bring to mind Steven King novels, I am Legend and other such zombie tales. This is however, different.
The disaster is revealed but not explained and the dangers outside the complex are graphically portrayed. But this isn’t really a disaster story. It’s the story of Melanie, separated from her parents, and Miss Justineau who wants to step into that role. Sergeant is Eddy Parks, a career soldier doing the best unemotional job he can. Dr Caldwell is the scientist who wants to dissect Melanie’s brain to find out why she’s not a zombie and maybe find a cure. These three and red haired Private Gallagher are thrown together, escaping from the Hungries and the Junkers who invade the complex. The interplay and development of the relationships amongst the four is the essence of the book. It’s also thrilling, emotional and a page turner. Highly recommended.