The Girl with All the Gifts

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The Girl with All the Gifts

By:  M.R. Carey
Published:  2014
# of pages:  412 (Kindle edition)
Challenges:  What’s in a Name
Quote:  “And then like Pandora, opening the great big box of the world and not being afraid, not even caring whether what’s inside is good or bad. Because it’s both. Everything is always both. But you have to open it to find that out.”

4Stars

Goodreads description:  

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

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 loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

My review:  I’m glad I stumbled onto this book.  It’s about Melanie, a young girl growing up in a strange institution.  She’s incredibly smart and observant and absolutely loves her teacher, Miss Justineau.  Suddenly her world falls apart and she clings to Miss Justineau, trying to make sense of what’s happening.  But Miss Justineau finds the situation just as confusing as Melanie.  They struggle to survive in the midst of danger that affects more than just the two of them, it affects the entire human race.

I enjoyed the relationships between the characters and also the observations each of them throughout the book.  After reading this, I feel that the author must be similar to the character Melanie.  Observant and thoughtful.

Apparently this is the first in a series, but I was fine with quitting after this book.  The novel isn’t anything super mind blowing or even terribly original, but it’s an easy read that isn’t mindless.  I recommend it to all sci-fi fans.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Thoughtful writing, interesting characters, neat plot.

Strain of Resistance

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Strain of Resistance

By:  Michelle Bryan
Published:  2016
# of pages:  314
Series:  Strain of Resistance (#1)

4Stars

Goodreads description:

My name is Bixby. I was 12 years old when the world ended. A mysterious mist had blanketed our world, turning most of the population into blood-sucking predators. The few of us left uninfected…well, we were the prey. Vanquished to the bottom of the food chain.

For eight years we’ve fought this alien war. Barely surviving. Not knowing which day would be our last. But now we face a new threat. The parasite that took us down is evolving. Becoming smarter. Stronger. Deadlier.

The infected took everything from me. My home. My family. The man that I loved. No more.

This is the story of our resistance.

My opinion:  I love a good “zombie” apocalypse novel.  This one has been on my TBR list for a couple of years.  I saw that it was 99 cents on the Kindle so I went ahead and bought it to read.  I don’t think the series is complete.  There are two books  so far and a 0.5 book, which I’m guessing is a prequel to Strain of Resistance.

The story follows Bixby, a young woman whose life has been shaped by the arrival of an alien species that takes over the bodies of millions of people on Earth.  Those bodies turn into predators that prey on the uninfected for eight years until things suddenly change…for the worse.  Bixby and her fellow survivors set out to discover just what has caused this change and encounter countless horrors along the way.  Bixby is also forced to confront her own emotions and learn to mesh her past, present, and future feelings.

I feel like this book borders on being young adult and adult.  There’s some almost graphic sex scenes, nothing too detailed, but it may be too much for some young adult readers.  There’s also some violence, but also nothing that solidly makes this inappropriate for young adults.  Overall, it was a fun read and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Strain of Defiance.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Quick and easy read, cool apocalyptic concept, Bixby is immaturely annoying at times.

Station Eleven

 

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Station Eleven

By:  Emily St. John Mandel
Published:  2014
# of pages: 
336
Challenge:  Full House (Canadian author)

4Stars

Goodreads description:

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains – this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

My opinion:  On Facebook, Goodreads posted a link to an article that claims to list the best dystopian fiction.  Several people wrote that they were disappointed not to see Station Eleven on the list.  I had never heard of Station Eleven, but I looked it up after seeing it mentioned so many times.  Now I’ve finished reading it and it didn’t disappoint.

The novel follows a selection of characters that (even though not all of them know it), were all connected in the past when the world was “normal.”  We learn about Arthur, Clark, Miranda, Jeevan, and Kirsten both before and after the collapse.  The story bounces back and forth between the characters and the different time lines.  At first I wasn’t sure I liked that method since I was afraid I would lose track of what was happening with each character or that my questions wouldn’t be answered.  However, it worked very well and I enjoyed each of the stories.  The method puts the reader right into the minds of the characters and into the situation.  It’s interesting to see how the characters associated a death of an actor with the beginning of the “apocalypse.”

I’d classify this novel as both post-apocalyptic and dystopian.  We see how society is ruined and then slowly emerges as something different.  In some ways the new life is freeing and in other ways it’s terrifying.  In the questions section on Goodreads, readers were asking why, after 20 years, the society wasn’t more advanced.  But that’s what this book is about.  Survival comes first, but slowly other things take shape.  It’s interesting to think about how the arts (in this case music and theater) and preservation (teaching and displaying parts of history) fit in with survival and advancement.

What are some of your favorite post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian novels?  Have you read Station Eleven?  If so, what did you think?

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Original story line and an interesting way of thinking about “the end of the world,” didn’t completely draw me in since I feel the multiple characters kept me from completely connecting with just one or two.