Carey returns to the post-apocalyptic world of The Girl with All the Gifts (2014).
The Rosalind Franklin, aka “Rosie,” carries five scientists, one very special boy, and their escort of six military personnel in her heavily armored belly trundling over the decimated landscape of a ruined Scotland, collecting caches of data left by a previous expedition. Their mission is to find a cure for the Cordyceps pathogen that, 10 years ago, began transforming people into mindless killing machines, dubbed “hungries.” Epidemiologist Dr. Samrina “Rina” Khan hopes 15-year-old Stephen Greaves, and his unique abilities, will make a cure even more possible. After all, Stephen is something of a savant whose intelligence arguably outstrips that of all the scientists on board even though he suffers crippling social anxiety. One day, Stephen ventures off from a sampling expedition and discovers a female child among the hungries, a girl with the speed and reflexes of an infected but who also seems to be intelligent. Stephen knows that his discovery could change everything, if he can only make contact. Meanwhile, Rosie’s crew can’t get in touch with Beacon, their home base, and Rina is harboring a secret that could endanger the entire mission. Packing 12 people into a vehicle with coffinlike bunks and one shower would be stifling during the best of times, and tensions are high, amplifying power struggles between the civilian commander, Dr. Alan Fournier, and his scientists and between Col. Isaac Carlisle and his soldiers, especially volatile sniper Lt. Daniel McQueen. Carey weaves a creeping dread into his already tense narrative and doesn’t rely on clichéd zombie tropes to drive it. Each crew member is compelling, but Stephen is the standout here, and his idiosyncrasies, of which he’s painfully aware, only make him easier to root for, and Rina’s love for him is an anchor. Just as they think they’re close to a breakthrough, events force them to head for home, but they may not have a home to return to.
A terrifying, emotional page-turner that explores what it means to be human.