Girl with All the Gifts (the 2017 film and the book)

Here’s one of the rare instances where the book and the movie of a fairly unique zombie apocalypse are both worth your time – and are substantially different.

The book and screenplay are both by Mike Carey, a long-time comics writer and a damn fine craftsman who knows the genre. His version of zombie-ism is fungus-based, and most of humanity is already dead or converted into mindlessly fast “hungries.” But the big deal is that a precious few second-generation “hungries” don’t succumb to mindless violence… if you don’t get too close. And learning how to control that impulse may be the key to the survival of the world.

In the book, Carey postulates a salvage-based society of “junkers;” an innovation that doesn’t make it into his film. But as he has said himself, the two versions take different paths to the same destination, and in this rare instance both versions have pleased a lot of people. Carey has also produced a sequel, The Boy on the Bridge, if you’ve already absorbed Gifts in its various forms.

In the film, you’ve got pros performing at their best, like Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close, and the performance of Sennia Nanua as the second-generation “hungry” who just might save the world is wonderfully effective. Even the portrayal of the fungus that has overtaken everything is fresh and creepy.

Gifts seems to have fallen off many of the “all-time best of zom” lists, but if you haven’t experienced both book and film, separately or together… give ‘em a try. (There’s also an “enhanced audiobook” available, if you or your zombuds are audially inclined.)