So while I meant to update last week, even though I didn’t have to, spring break got away from me and it ended up not happening. But shoulda, woulda, coulda- we are back this week and that’s all that matters! I hope you all had a lovely break from my weekly babble.
Anywho! This past week I reread The Girl with all the Gifts written by M. R. Carey and it was just as great the second time around. I am typically not a fan of zombie books but this one does it well and features multiple strong female characters so I’m here for this 100%. To commemorate this novel, which is set in post zombie infection England, I decided to go with a traditional English dessert: The Bakewell Tart.
Bake-WELL being the key word here, I am once again reminded that people do not always get their oven conversions right, and shame on me for not keeping a closer eye on these guys. That and tart crusts always give me trouble, I think I just need to suck it up and buy pie weights. But, the filling is delicious and the jam cuts through these tea cakes well. I think that this is a recipe that is worth giving another go, one where I tinker with my temps and times.
While the tart came out alright, I suppose, in all reality the characters of this dystopian novel obviously would not have access to homemade tarts. While we aren’t given a year, in the not so distant past a zombie outbreak has ravaged England and it’s inhabitants.The infection presents as a fungus and is spread through saliva, blood, and the fungal spores. Like most zombies, those infected essentially loose their humanity and resort to feeding on healthy humans, which spreads the disease. Referring to those infected as Hungries, the uninfected are forced into either hiding out in military-run facilities or out into the wild as “Junkers”: people who live in the woods and cover themselves in tar to avoid being infected.
The novel opens in Beacon, a military-run facility that is looking for a cure. Melanie, the protagonist, is roughly ten years old and, along with other children in the facility, lives her life on a strict schedule. They wake up in the morning, strap into their wheelchairs and restraints, and are rolled down to the classroom. Melanie loves school and her teacher, Ms. Justineau, and excels at whatever they throw at her. While often times hostile and tense, they live in relative peace on the facility- the knowledge of their impending doom aside.
That all goes sideways when Junkers attack the facility by corralling Hungries into the gated camp. After a narrow escape, Ms. Justineau and Melanie, along with a scientist and two officers, are forced out into the Hungry infected countryside in an attempt to make it to another camp. Facing the danger of junkers, Hungries, and all of the other things people typically encounter in the wild makes the journey perilous physically and emotionally.
I really enjoy this book, and my little synopsis doesn’t really do it justice but I don’t want to spoil anything. It takes the traditional zombie story and puts it into a new light, takes the idea of an infection and puts it into realistic terms of disease or fungal growth and mutations. Carey writes three strong female characters and not all of them are good- they are allowed to be people (what a concept) and make mistakes and be ugly or old and have sex. Also, this book passes the Bechdel test which is always fun. But yeah, I guess that’s it from me for now. Thanks for reading!
Here’s the link to the Tarts, hopefully you have better luck than I did!
*Header photo courtesy of my mom, shout out to Lil!
**Bonus: I totally forgot to take a picture of my book so I had my mom do it for me this morning since I left my book at home, and Benji was feeling particularly handsome so he figured he would get in there.