The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Careyoooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for best horror! what will happen?
the bleak philosophy of the post-apocalyptic world:
…he doesn’t see what’s so great about leaving your mark on things. You have a life and then it ends and you’re dead. Living it is the point, not proving to other people that you were there. The whole thing is really just water pouring down a plughole, but that’s absolutely fine. Standing water gets stagnant.
i’m sure this is something i knew and just forgot in the period between when i first heard about this book and when i got my hands on an arc, but this book is a prequel to The Girl with All the Gifts. got that?? a PREQUEL. so don’t be like me, spending the first 2/3 of the book in a state of panic, fretting that you’ve forgotten characters’ relationships to each other during the three/four years worth of books youve read since then, struggling to even remember what happened in The Girl with All the Gifts beyond the very memorable stuff, because for the most part, none of that matters. there’s an exciting little blip of an event at the end that ties the two books together, and no doubt there are smaller connections that will be noticed by readers who have read these closer together, but i can personally reassure you that they are seasoning only, and forgetting details from the first book will not hinder your appreciation of this one.
all the stuff that made the first book so much fun is back - the nom nom of the zombies, or ‘hungries,’ and the specific traits and mode-of-contagion that make them stand out from other literary nom noms. however, like all the best books in this particular genre, the zombies aren’t the main focus here. they’re certainly present, as obstacles to maneuver around, as threats that will infect or eat you, as constant reminders of “this is what happens to our dead now,” but they are far from the only threat in a world where humans have been thrust into survival mode, caught in the transition between the social codes that worked back when the world was more civilized and the newly brutal necessities of surviving.
the scope is small - it focuses upon the passengers of the rosalind franklin, a tricked-out, armored motor home known affectionately as “rosie.” in her claustrophobic quarters, five scientists, six military personnel, and a fifteen-year-old boy named stephen are in the middle of a fifteen-month mission, departing from the english town of beacon (nod to gwatg) into scotland, collecting data left in caches by previous expeditions along the way, and gathering fresh specimens of their own in order to understand the phenomenon and hopefully find a cure. stephen is a young genius with severe social anxiety, the inventor of e-blocker gel; the goop that prevents zombies from smelling tasty human prey, but he is still seen as a liability by the soldiers on board the rosie, as he has a tendency to wander off, single-mindedly pursuing his own research, keeping his findings to himself. he’s a part of the science team while being completely independent, his only viable relationship is with dr. samrina khan; the woman who rescued him after both his parents died, and the only one allowed to touch him, if only with the tip of her finger. she loves stephen and feels responsible for him, but she’s somewhat distracted by an unexpected pregnancy, unsure what will happen when her baby comes, and the state of the world she is bringing new life into.
well-armed and -trained men and women, brilliant scientists, and a teenage savant heading out into the wastes to save the world. seems pretty promising. however, people are people, and even with one goal to unite them, there’s plenty to divide them - the strain of close quarters, sexual dalliances, power plays, resentment, questionable reputations, the threat of aggressive bands of junkers, the choice between following orders vs. making informed decisions, the pressure of saving the human race from inevitable destruction, and one person in secret communication with beacon, being issued orders that might not have the team’s best interests in mind.
and then the game changes.
in carey’s imagining, the undead are mindless, static until they sense a warm meal.
…a few hungries stand at street corners as though they’re waiting for someone to come and lead them back into the lives they lost.
They will stand like this until their body’s systems fail, barring occasional headlong sprints in pursuit of local fauna. It’s an afterlife that not even the grimmest and least user-friendly of the old world’s religions ever imagined.
on one of stephen’s unsanctioned journeys, he discovers a band of feral children who display the inhuman speed and predatory characteristics of the hungries, but the communication, strategy and mental acuity of humans. which discovery he, naturally, keeps to himself for his own investigations.
and that’s when things get really messy.
i’m pretty sure this would be satisfying as a standalone, but it would be doing yourself a disservice to miss out on gwatg, since that one is SO MUCH FUN, and more action-y overall. this one takes its time to get going; developing characters, supplying backstory, setting the scene, which for me was slow going because half my brain was preoccupied with am i supposed to remember these people? because i so dont remember these people! but theres plenty of payoff, and i am hoping theres still more to come!
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The Man-Eaters of Tsavo
I put so much effort into making these ebooks, and would love to carry on offering them for free. However, the site really can't survive without your help. This book recounts the author's experiences while overseeing the construction of a railroad bridge in what would become Kenya. It is most widely known for recounting the story of a pair of lions that he killed, known as the Tsavo maneaters. It was towards noon on March 1, , that I first found myself entering the narrow and somewhat dangerous harbour of Mombasa, on the east coast of Africa. The town lies on an island of the same name, separated from the mainland only by a very narrow channel, which forms the harbour; and as our vessel steamed slowly in, close under the quaint old Portuguese fortress built over three hundred years ago, I was much struck with the strange beauty of the view which gradually opened out before me.
In this wordless story, a little boy finds a book that he loves at the library. But not for the book. The poor book requires first aid from his friends. Every time the boy comes to the library, the books hide and plan escape routes. The boy soon learns that the book is not just an object and is so much more on the inside.
J. H. Patterson