The Boy on the Bridge: One of the good zombie books!
“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.”
I have very little experience with the horror genre. In fact, as far as I can recall, the only other horror book I’ve read is the first book in The Hungry Plague series, The Girl with All the Gifts. I do love me a good dystopian, and with zombies running around, the world does end up sort of dystopian-ish. Maybe that means I should give the horror genre more of a chance!
The Boy on the Bridge is the prequel to The Girl with All the Gifts, taking place about 20 or so years earlier. We don’t know everything that we know in TGWATG. As far as everyone is concerned, there are only people and the hungries – former people whose bodies have been co-opted by the Cordyceps virus. Once a person is infected by this virus, they become nothing but creepy, empty husks. The virus has rewritten everything and is basically just using their body to eat people. There is some debate as to whether a human consciousness is still buried somewhere deep deep within. As far as I remember from TGWATG, I don’t think that’s a question that ever gets answered.
So here we are, plopped right down in the middle of hell. Most of the world has been infected, but there are still a few small enclaves of human civilization. If the human race has any hope of surviving, they need answers fast. A team of scientists and military personal are sent out in a giant military tank to collect caches of information left behind by an earlier team. These caches will hopefully help them determine if there’s any sort of environmental inhibitor for the virus. There is also much slicing and dicing of the hungries’ tissue because they just need something to go on here. What they really want is a cure, or at least a vaccine. At the center of the story is Dr. Khan, who is inconveniently pregnant, and Stephen, a 15-year-old, probably autistic savant and surrogate son of Dr. Khan. A lot happens on this ill-fated road trip through post-apocalyptic England, and Stephen makes a discovery that changes everything.
I have to admit, it took me a bit longer to warm up to this one than TGWATG. Although I’m glad I read TGWATG first (and wish I had read it more recently so it would have been fresher in my mind, I probably missed a few references), it’s really hard to top it. The Girl just had a more unique story to tell and much of it came from a VERY unique point of view (Melanie!). The ending for The Girl SLAYED me! This one felt different, maybe because I knew much of it was really background. Also, some of the military characters in Boy felt too much like the same characters I remembered from Girl. Yes, I’m getting progressively lazier with the titles.
All of these things are really just little gripes, though. This book was a ride, especially when things really got exciting during the second half! The world Carey builds feels real, and as with all good dystopian novels, this is both thrilling and scary. Thrilling because of the obvious thought the author put into fleshing out this fallen society, and all the action that comes with it. Scary because it always makes you ask, what if? And that, my friends, is why this is a GOOD zombie book. Every detail feels so plausible! The pathogenesis of the virus was genius. I just love sitting back after I read a book like this and wondering how the author came up with it all.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars