I love stories that take a totally made-up premise and add new layers or dimensions that would not have been conceived without the original concept. Think about that. The second layer is built upon a fantasy. A fantasy within a fantasy. Or in the case of "The Girl with All The Gifts" by M. R. Carey, a nightmare within a nightmare.
Writers are gods. Minor gods, to be sure, but gods who create people and worlds and alternate realities. M. R. Carey has taken a universe created and detailed by many and demonstrated that the possibilities are endless. And he does it so well, the reader doesn't have to know anything about all that came before to appreciate his story.
Did I mention that this book is about zombies? Or, in Carey's world, hungries. Yeah, strange, right? I admit to having an affinity for stories about the walking dead. To me, they are simply a variation of the post-apocalypse genre which I loved long before I became aware of zombies. I think most people who enjoy such stories aren't so much captivated by the concept of the dead coming back to life as they are about the idea of trying to survive in a world taken over by the walking dead. The reason for the apocalypse is secondary to the story of those who are trying to survive.
Being careful not to give anything away, Carey's variation on the theme is brilliant and original. And in a bold move (considering the publishing world's obsession with serials these days), it has an ending. A very good one. (And yet, there is now a sequel. Go figure.)
Finally, as people who read my reviews already know, I worship at the alter of great writing. And as much as it might disturb literary purists too haughty to ever give this genre its due, Carey's writing is superlative, especially in the beginning where you can't help but be drawn in.
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. (I'd give it four-and-half-stars if the GoodReads program allowed such splitting.) It's a nice change of pace and it's what fiction was meant to be.