- The Boy On The Bridge.
- M. R.Carey.
- 392 pages.
- Horror / Fiction / Zombie / Post-Apocalyptic.
- My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.
The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.
To where the monsters lived.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Boy on the Bridge is the set in the same world as The Girl With All The Gifts. I haven’t actually read the previous book, or even seen the film that is based upon it. As such, apart from knowing that it would contain zombies, I went into reading The Boy on the Bridge completely blind.
Well, after finishing, and in my opinion, I can say that The Boy on the Bridge acts perfectly well as a standalone, Carey explains all that you need to know, and the fact that I hadn’t read The Girl With All The Gifts didn’t lessen my pleasure at all. If you’re like me and haven’t yet read The Girl With All The Gifts, don’t worry about it, you can easily find lots to enjoy in this book.
Following the trail left by a previous expedition a year ago in the Charles Darwin, the Rosalind Franklin and her crew, deemed the last hope for humanity are sent out from Beacon (on the south coast of England) to journey towards the Scottish Highlands, searching for answers to the Cordyceps virus, continuing to research the plague that turns humans into hungries (Carey’s version of zombies) by collecting the caches of specimen cultures left in various locations, each specimen was left to grow in organic material from that specific location, and could hold the clue to unravelling and stopping the Cordyceps virus. All the while oblivious to the political machinations and scheming going on back at Beacon.
It seems appropriate that emotions should have recoil in the same way guns do, because after all they’re just as dangerous.
Suffice to say, along their route to the Scottish Highlands, things don’t go according to plan for the group. You know by now that I stay away from spoilers, and due to that, I won’t go into further detail or elaborate, the story told by Carey is best experienced along with the crew of the Rosie as you undertake the journey with them, through the hard lessons to be learned and some even harder choices to be made.
The two ruling bodies of Beacon, the Main Table (civilian council) and the Muster (military) chose a team that consists of twelve people in total, two separate groups of six. The science team led by the civilian commander Dr Alan Fournier, who is responsible for the overall success of the mission and includes, Samrina Khan, Lucien Akimwe, John Sealey, Elaine Penny and Stephen Greaves. While the military escort is led by Colonel Isaac Carlisle and includes Lt Daniel McQueen, Lance-Bombardier Kat Foss, Private Brendan Lutes, Private Paula Sixsmith and finally Private Gary Phillips. Together they make for an interesting and varied group, especially with the dynamic and the differences between them. Take for example the two leaders, Fournier is a self-serving cowardly bastard, he hides behind his title of ‘civilian commander‘ to issue orders and stay inside Rosie out of harms way, looking out for himself and the eventual plaudits he’ll receive when/if Rosie returns to Beacon. While Colonel Isaac Carlisle is a stickler for doing things the right way, by the book, they are two sides of a coin that you just know will sooner or later come to blows.
A decade after the Cordyceps virus turned the world to ruin (for those unfamiliar, Cordyceps is the pathogen/virus that infects humans near instantaneously after exposure). We find the world to be a bleak and desolate landscape, and the threat of danger in the form of hungries is ever present. It is a struggle to get by, to endure in the grim world that Carey has created.
The Boy on the Bridge features Feral children, second generation hungries, or as McQueen eloquently puts it during the book ‘goblins‘. They are tenacious, vicious little horrors who certainly ramp up the terror and dread. These children unlike the first generation adult hungries who are just mindless eating machines, show awareness and process of thought, they aren’t just unthinking husks of former humans, and could hold a major breakthrough in finding a cure for the Cordyceps virus.
Predominantly confined to the small space of Rosie, apart from the various excursions to obtain the samples (which hardly ever go well) over months and miles, and on an arduous journey. The relationships amidst the characters start to deteriorate, to fragment and erode. Not just between the civilian and military factions, but also amongst each other, and you watch, as in the melting pot of Rosie, due to the aftermath of events, tensions begin to fray, the strain takes hold, secrets and prejudice are revealed, building to the inevitable self destruction and implosion of the group.
The book is told from multiple perspectives. Undoubtedly for me, Stephen Greaves is the best character, offering a unique and interesting perspective due to his autism. He is very clever, also having an eidetic memory (eidetic memory is the ability to recall detailed images from memory that are vivid with extreme clarity and accuracy).
He had already learned to read, but now he learned the pleasure of stories which is like no other pleasure – the experience of slipping sideways into another world and living there for as long as you want to.
The Boy on the Bridge is both story and character driven, both propel the story forward, and it’s down to both of these aspects together that make the book such an engrossing read. The pacing is good throughout, Carey knows how to write a quality story and draw you in.
Pain has no agenda at all. It teaches us nothing, except what hurts. And if you can’t avoid the things that hurt then what use is the lesson?
The Boy on the Bridge has a serious and sombre tone, this is a thinking person’s zombie book, comprised of harsh and heartbreaking moments, it’s a gripping, deep and thoughtful read.
Pre-Order The Boy On The Bridge (released May 2nd US & May 4th UK).
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