The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey


‘The Boy on the Bridge’ is the prequel to Carey’s explosive coming-of-age zombie thriller ‘The Girl with all the Gifts’. And as a stand-alone work it is a disruptive, fresh, and tightly-paced thriller. As a companion piece however it treads a lot of ground previously covered.

The ingredients that keep this second instalment fresh however are Carey’s incisive characterisation, and intricate storytelling. He staves off any lack of tension caused by the readers’ knowledge of these characters’ fates. Ultimately this is not a story about hope, at least not for the humans, it is a story of understanding, resolve, and acceptance.

The story picks up where The Girl with all the Gifts left off, honing in on the destiny of the abandoned Rosalind Franklin – the army tanker discovered at the end of the last instalment. We realise that this is not a tale about the future of mankind, but about how a cross-section of humanity faces, desperately the consequences of a mass extinction. The 10 man crew of the Rosalind Franklin, is already 7 months into their quest for a cure to Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, a fungus that has infected and devastated the human population. The crew is essentially an archetypal representation of humanity; the morally dubious side by side with the altruistic, the deluded in close quarters with the calculating. Carey’s biggest strength is a crushing sense of inevitability; the inevitability of conflict between the strong and the weak, the pragmatic and the idealist. Finally the reader is weighted with the inexorable fate of humanity.

What Carey gives us is in the midst of this finality is a glimmer of hope in alternative possibilities. What saves The Boy on the Bridge from merely rehashing the successes of The Girl with all the Gifts is its psychological weight and the range of these characters. This is a simple allegory for death, total, inescapable and yet it is laden with the possibility of the future – any future. Humanity is doomed from the first bite, exactly as it should be.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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