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.
Melanie is a very special girl.
Oh my goodness, this is one creepy, thought provokingly brilliant book. I’d heard good things about it but curiously I’d not heard much of what it was actually about. I can understand that now. The fall of civilization, apocalypse, zombie type creatures, are all part of it yes (or some time after the fall) but it’s actually about a young girl called Melanie who is very curious.
The focus is very narrow, kept to what Melanie knows in the beginning and doesn’t really spread out much further than that other than a couple of different POV scenes but all kept in close proximity. I went through so many emotions, starting off as curious as Melanie but then feeling a bit uncomfortable led to dawning horror and then so much tension I couldn’t actually put the book down because I had to find out what was happening. Almost like having to look at something awful, just to prove to yourself that it is actually that awful. The pace is very much tied to the plot and as things progress, things speed up and get more intense and that does not stop until the end. I actually finished the book with my mouth hanging open.
With a very small core cast, the obvious focus is Melanie who I loved, even with the creepy factor. Secondly is Miss Justineau, her compassion and intelligence create for some very raw scenes. The superb writing of Carey gave us the Sergeant who I loathed… then by the end I loved. That’s a pretty impressive turnaround in not a lot of time and shows that what you see is very much not what you get. Caldwell, the scientist, is cold but I’m stuck between necessity and hatred where she is concerned. She may be the only one who can get the answer but her actions are abhorrent. The lieutenant was just a bit a fish out of water and didn’t get in the way too much.
The answer to what is going on however is mind-blowing and so very horrifying. Yet, it’s also fascinating and in an odd way, hopeful.
A brilliant yet creepy book that will leave you thinking.