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.
Melanie waits every day in her cell on a military base to be strapped in and restrained before she is taken to school. She never goes anywhere else except to shower and never gets to go outside to play. Melanie is a very clever little girl and wonders why her teacher looks sad when some of the students stop coming to class. And she wonders why the soldiers are so afraid of her...
A few friends told me that this book would be just my thing but wouldn't tell me what it was about, which I found a bit strange. Having read and enjoyed it, I can understand why they didn't want to spoil anything and let me find out for myself. Within the first chapter, I knew exactly what was happening and what it was my friends thought I would enjoy. So now I'm writing this review I have a slight problem. Just how much of the book do I reveal in this review? Hmmm. I'm going to assume that those who are reading this have already read the book and mark the review as having spoilers, as I MUST talk about the main stuff to write a decent review. So if you don't know what it is about and are about to read it, come back here after or things are about to be spoiled!
OK, are you ready for spoilerville? Here we go! Melanie and her classmates are all zombie children who are being studied because they are different from adult zombies. They retain their intelligence, movement, communication skills and can be in close contact with human adults who use a scent blocker to stop smelling like dinner. Sgt Eddie Parks does not trust the children and keeps them restrained while their teacher Helen views them as real children. Dr Caroline Caldwell sees them as test subjects to be tested and dissected in order to find a cure for the zombie virus. And outside the base, zombies roam wild along with uninfected humans who refuse to live in safe zones and who are plotting to destroy the base.
So that pretty much sets the scene for the story. The thing I really liked about the characters is that there was no real bad guy. I could understand the feelings and motivations of each character who have different views of the children. Helen works with them every day, seeing their personalities and talents so it is no surprise that she hates the fate that await them when they outlive their usefulness. Melanie is her favourite and she is almost a normal little girl except for the virus, so the reader is appalled at the idea of her being next on the list to be cut open. However Caroline is actually trying to save humanity by finding a cure and the infected children seem to hold the answer, so you can see why she is doing it. Eddie is trying to keep the base safe from monsters and dislikes having them on the actual base, knowing how dangerous they are. I can understand that as well. It leads to a complex problem which is great for the plot.
Under pressure to come up with a cure, Carolyn decides to work with the smartest kid and arranges for Melanie to be brought to the lab to be dissected. Helen finds out and is equally determined to save the child. The drama suddenly increases as the people outside attack the base, using the zombies to tear down the fence. Suddenly the base is compromised and Eddie has to get Caroline and Helen to safety with Helen insisting on bringing Melanie. Now Caroline only has one potential subject and no lab, and Helen does not trust her near Melanie. To complicate things further on this bizarre road trip, they are running out of scent blockers and zombies are everywhere...
This is totally different from any other zombie book that I've read and that is why I liked it so much. I liked all the characters in their own way though at times I could have throttled Caroline. But that is how you are meant to feel about her I guess! It is not an all out zombiefest kind of book-this is about the characters and their interactions and I found it quite intriguing and entertaining. I would recommend it to those looking for something a bit different in their zombie books.