The Girl With All The Gifts, adapted from the book of the same title by M. R. Carey has been out in theaters and available on Instant Play for a few weeks now. You may have missed it, I know I almost did. The book was published in 2014 and widely acclaimed. Carey’s completely original take on zombies is one of the best additions to a tired and over-saturated genre. It’s a beacon of originality in a swamp of overused zombie clichéd ooze. From its main character to the heart-wrenching ending, the book is no ordinary zombie slayer survival fantasy. It’s a fascinating look at the other side of the zombie spectrum. Life in the eyes of a semi-conscious, adolescent, zombie girl.
I read Girl With all the Gifts and was completely blown away by the complexities of the book and the strong trio of women at the helm, well two women and one zombie girl. The girl, Melanie, is the protagonist and a truly remarkable child. The book is a coming of age story, or rather coming of undead story as one of the many plot lines deals with our young heroine’s realization of what she is (a hungry) and her place in the ever-changing world. She forms a fast bond with one of her teachers, Miss Justineau. She idolizes and adores her, and it’s poignantly humanizing. The central conflicts revolve around Melanie’s need to stay connected to Miss Justineau vs her fight for survival.
The book is at its heart a coming of age story, it’s about Melanie first and foremost, about her survival and the realization that leads to one of the most heart wrenching endings I have ever read. It does have the zombie gore you would expect and some quick paced action, but this is all secondary in the plot.
That brings us to the 2017 film adaption. It has all the right elements, starting with a haunting soundtrack that pervades throughout the movie and a stellar cast. Glenn Close as the scientist looking for a cure, Gemma Arterton as Miss Justineau, and newcomer Sennia Nanua as the gifted Melanie. It’s Sennia’s performance that stands out. Encompassing the unique and complex subtleties of Melanie’s zombie self and amazing intelligence. She carries the entire film even with the star power of Close and Arterton.
Melanie’s bond with her teacher, Miss Justineau is the glue of both the book and film. Each depend on the other at different points in the book and film. Miss Justineau seems to be the only person who doesn’t see Melanie as another “Hungry”. Glen Close takes a peculiar interest in Melanie. To Close’s character, Melanie is an anomaly. A walking, talking lab rat for her experiments. To the guards, she is dangerous, a monster. Even though they talk with her and answer her questions, they are always on high alert.
If you come into Girl With All The Gifts, it might surprise you. It’s a tragic, humanizing story of a girl trapped between two worlds and fighting for survival. The film is a cut above other tired zombie films.
Zombie fans looking for another gore fest with a rag tag group of survivalists will be disappointed with the movie. The primary focus is Melanie’s interactions with her surroundings and overwhelming curiosity. Fans of the book will not be unsatisfied though. The film adaption stays true to the book and even though there’s a severe lack of chase scenes and zombified violence, it will keep you on the edge of your seat.
You can find the trailer for the Girl With All the Gifts below and buy the film on Amazon here:
This article was written by Kay Vandette, a talented freelancer and lover of fantasy. Emily has also contributed articles on The Magicians and the Destruction of Hope in Fantasy and The Santa Clarita Diet. Emily often writes about crafting and coffee on her blog: Nerd of the North.