“the horror of the unknown is more frightening than any horror you can understand”
Author: M.R.Carey Published: 2014 Pages: 460
The premise of this novel centres on ten-year-old Melanie who attends class five times a week with other children and spends the remainder of the time locked in a cell, rigorously patrolled by soldiers. That is her life. Melanie has never known any different, but after a strange conversation about death with one of her teachers, Miss Justineau, and the mysterious disappearance of some of her classmates, Melanie begins to understand that there is something she is missing. Some part of the world to which she has yet to be exposed.
I’m not usually one for zombie books, but Carey manages to take the crux of what we have come to know as “zombies” and make that theme into an adult and sophisticated plot narrative. What’s more is that he creates zombie-like characters whom are more relatable and sympathetic than their human counterparts. Melanie seems wise and humble in her observations and remarks about the human race which only aid in my rooting for her survival even more. Yes, even in this novel, the zombies (or hungries) are animals who only crave one thing – human flesh – but before they became those creatures they were just ordinary people and Carey does not allow us to forget this.
The scientific terms and complicated talk of human anatomy which are thrown into the narrative throughout the novel are a testament to its sophisticated nature and make it hauntingly plausible. This novel portrays many different human perspectives, from the compassionate Miss Justineau to the cold-hearted and ruthless Dr. Caldwell, each character has a different solution to the apocalypse which has seemingly thrust itself onto humanity. The devastation that the hungry infection has inflicted on the world echoes how hopeless the few survivors must feel. They are torn between trying to survive and knowing that their days are almost definitely numbered.
Though the novel is 460 pages in length, none of the plot seemed unnecessary and Carey managed to keep suspense successfully throughout. I will admit, however, that the final hundred pages, for me anyway, were more gripping than those before it which I found made the ending a whole lot better just for the anticipation of what was going to happen. Once I had turned the last page I was left with a feeling of satisfaction and completion, the way I think you should always feel after a good read.
Melanie’s innocence and humbling naivety is a refreshing look at the problems in society and serve as a reminder that we should strive to think more as we did before we lost our child-like virtue.