- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Orbit; First Edition edition (May 2, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316300330
- ISBN-13: 978-0316300339
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 256 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Boy on the Bridge Hardcover – May 2, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Teens still clamor for pandemic apocalyptic fiction—nearly as much as zombies crave flesh! Ten years ago, a parasitic fungus started hijacking the brains and bodies of humans with frightening speed, decimating England's population and turning those afflicted into zombielike "hungries." Now, leaders at a fortified settlement called Beacon are desperate to halt the growth of the cataclysmic Cordyceps. They send a second mobile armored vehicle to take six soldiers, five scientists, and a teenager on a Hail Mary mission to collect samples left behind from a first group that never returned and to learn what they can to save the human race. Carey effectively brings to life many of the dozen characters. Young adults will especially appreciate the brilliant Stephen Greaves, 15, who might be on the autism spectrum. He was permitted to join the crew at the behest of Samrina Khan, the group's epidemiologist and his foster mother of sorts. Readers will be engrossed as Stephen searches for data to understand the hungries and the fungus and looks for ways to combat them, such as the e-blocker he develops to stymie the hungries' acute olfactory sense. A villainous civilian commander, an unplanned pregnancy for Khan, backbiting among the soldiers, and Stephen's work with the hungries add up to an intriguing read. VERDICT Lovers of speculative fiction or sci-fi will devour this fresh take on the genre.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Gwinnett County, GA
"Carey writes with compassion and fire - strange and surprising and humane"―Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls
"A terrifying, emotional page-turner that explores what it means to be human."―Kirkus
"Thoughtful and compelling"―RT Book Reviews
"A tense story with superbly rendered characters and the same blend of tragedy and hope."―SciFiNow
"[A] brilliant character study as much as a tense, satisfying post-apocalyptic thriller."―B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
"The Boy on the Bridge is a careful companion, including thematic parallels that remind us, in sometimes horrific ways, that our actions always have wider consequences than we think."―NPR
"The stakes are higher than ever...action-packed...Fans of Carey and readers of Ben H. Winters or Steven Barnes will enjoy."―Library Journal
"Spectacular!"―Martina Cole, author of Betrayal
"Compelling . . . may leave you feeling shell-shocked."―SFX
"A cast of fascinating characters.... Readers will feel surprisingly welcome in this world."―The Mary Sue
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The Boy on the Bridge is a prequel and slight sequel to The Girl with All the Gifts. Melanie and her crew stumble onto Rosie in the latter book and it's nice to fill in what happened and then tie the two stories together. This book is just as addictive as the first with just as varied characters. Stephen had an extremely traumatic chidhood where his parents were killed by hungries and their corpses protected him from discovery. As an older child, he has odd behaviors such as avoiding eye contact and physical contact with other people. He views things analytically and keeps his emotions separate. With his brilliance, photographic memory, and scientific curiosity, Stephen developed the e-blocker that masks human scent from hungries. Stephen seems to be somewhere on the autism sprectrum, but it's never explicitly stated. I felt for him because of how easily the rest of the crew dismisses him. However, he made some pretty terrible decisions that put everyone at risk.
The rest of the crew is a hodgepodge of people who don't get along. Colonel Carlisle is in command and makes confident decisions with little input from anyone else. His past is full of mistakes like firebombing civilians at the beginning of the outbreak and everyone at least internally calls his command into question. Lieutenant McQueen is a hot headed soldier who follows orders only to the letter with a big dose of disdain if he thinks he knows better. The civilian leader Dr. Fournier undermines the entire operation with secret communication to Beacon, their base, and orders to delay so a coup won't be interrupted. He's completely willing to even sacrifice lives to garner a little bit of favor from a general. Of course he doesn't get along with any of the military as they exclude him in any decision making and in general. These tensions explode (mostly because of big egos) during the course of the story and make situations even worse.
There are two types of hungries here. The first is the mindless type that go into stasis with no stimuli. Sound, smell, movement, and body heat make them return to consciousness and attack whatever caught their attention. As heliotropes, they face the sun in their stasis and move with it. At night, movement and smell of nocturnal animals keep them active. Extreme temperatures have little effect on them and only destroying the brain will kill them. Two theories seem to be plausible about the people they used to be; either they are trapped inside the mind without the ability to control their body or they simply lose all sense of self. These types of hungries almost seem alien after the more intelligent type seen in both this novel and its predecessor. The second iteration of them can communicate, use tools, reason, and organize in groups. Physically, their bodies are the same as the normal ones and their brains are completely different as shown with Stephen's experiments. The fungus was introduced to their bodies before they are developed, thus retaining about half of the brain chemicals and function. These being between hungry and human are fascinating and it seems that they are still a mystery even though more is explained about their state.
The Boy on the Bridge isn't quite as good as The Girl with All the Gifts, but it's close. The latter has a much bigger scope because its events affected all of humanity. This former is on a smaller scale, but gave a better look at the past. The characters were pretty frustrating all around and I didn't connect to them as well. The writing is wonderful as usual and I was engaged for the entire story. The interesting mix of human drama, zombies, and science drew me in. I would love another book to come out as a full sequel to The Girl with All the Gifts.
Part of a group of scientists and army personnel slowly traveling across Britain in a tanked-out RV, Rina and Stephen are collecting data on the hungries with the hopes of discovering the key to a vaccine for the fungal virus. It’s an understandably contentious lot with the expectant dynamics found in any group trapped in a tin can with treads battling hungries for seven months. Almost all carry secrets, some easier to hide in their RV lovingly called Rosie. I didn’t recognize Rosie from TGWATG until the very end.
At first the book moves about as fast as Rosie with her tank treads but it helps to build the tension. No one trusts the scientist heading the mission, the army resents his leadership, and no one but Rina understands Stephen and his purpose within their group. They regard him as weird; his expressionless interaction with them, what little there is, prompts them to call him the Robot. He prefers to spend his time in the lab or the airlock away from everyone. And he only allows Rina to touch him but it is a light finger to his wrist and nothing more.
But, focusing only on Stephen for a moment, the reader begins to wonder what makes a person a human. It’s hard to go into detail because I don’t want to give anything away, but his discoveries and his personality lead the readers into nature vs. nurture territory and questions about the fungus and why does it make humans into zombies.
Carey has done his research in science, epidemiology, even how to fix a tank tread, and it shows. A few of the characters, both scientist and army personnel alike, don’t go much deeper than who’s the mechanic, who likes to play poker, who is a good shot, etc. Rina and Stephen are the main characters. Stephen is no Melanie from TGWATG; her wonderfully sweet personality and reactions to the outside world made her so compelling. Stephen is a computer, a robot, but I understood him and he does make this book.
Without giving away too much, TBOTB does intersect with TGWATG at some point. And I loved the ending of this book as well, it made me tear up a tad. There is one character that disappears and we never know what happens to them, even by the end. Possibly a third book? The Boy On The Bridge may not engage as many readers as TGWATG but it is still a good read and could be a standalone but I don’t recommend it. You’ll want the full experience.