This book was declared a gateway book for the post-apocalyptic genre by Tor (in this post) . I happen to love post-apocalyptic books, and yet hadn’t read this one, so of course I had to put it on my TBR list. I decided I needed a genre break and read it now.
Genre: zombie thriller/post-apocalyptic
Length: 403 pages
Setting: near London, England, near future
Summary: Short version: The zombies always win
Long version: We start off learning about Melanie and her life. It quickly becomes apparent that although Melanie considers herself a normal child, there’s something very odd about her and the world she live sin. Turns out, she’s a hungry – someone who was infected with the fungus Ophiocordyceps, and is now driven to consume protein, particularly from a human source. The average hungry is just a mindless, flesh-eating zombie. Melanie and her classmates still contains all of her mental faculties, though, and Dr. Caldwell wants to know why these children are different. A group of junkers attack the base where Melanie is being held. Melanie escapes with a group of four other people, including her favorite teacher and Dr. Caldwell. They are headed to Beacon, a safe city, across a landscape infested with hungries.
Final thoughts: While the book started out slow, it become a real page-turner once the action started. I enjoyed the slow parceling out of information about Melanie that I had to piece together into a picture of the world. Eventually, we got some exposition explaining what had happened, but that didn’t occur until the middle of the book.
It’s a tough call to decide if the hungries or Dr. Caldwell are the true antagonist of the book. Sure, the hungries will eat you as soon as they know you’re there, but you know exactly where you stand with them. Dr. Caldwell, on the other hand, figured she could implement any number of atrocities against the intelligent hungry kids because A) they weren’t really people and B) it was to save humanity. She was looking for a cure in the brains of the kids and figured she was the only one smart enough to find the answers. Too bad there was no cure. Her literally feverish work at the end to answer the question and then devastation when she figured it out was spot on.
Title comes from: Melanie was fascinated by the myth of Pandora. This phrase was used to describe Pandora in the myth she heard.
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #68 for 2018
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