Humanity is trying to figure out what has turned people into zombies and to find a way to stop it. As they are running out of options, their measures become more desperate. One of those measures is to send a specially designed research vehicle – the Rosalind Franklin – after its counterpart that has gone missing before to try to retrieve whatever data it could gather. So a team of scientists and soldiers board the Rosie. Among them is Dr. Khan who insisted to bring along 15-year-old Stephen, a highly gifted, autistic boy she basically adopted. That Stephen is part of the mission underscores its desperate nature, but maybe he is the key to the answers they need.
The Boy on the Bridge is an extremely good read and a very satisfying addition to The Girl with All the Gifts. Depite a couple of issues I had with it, I really enjoyed it and I’m happy that it expands the universe that we were introduced to in the first novel.
As was already the case in The Girl with All the Gifts, The Boy on the Bridge is built around a solid moral core that centers empathy and knows the value of (human) life. It’s sad that this framing is so rare that it’s something to get excited about when you find it, but it struck me again in this novel. Especially since it leads up to a radical ending – again like in Girl – that I found absolutely great.
And not only because the ending includes another meeting with Melanie, the protagonist of the first book, which was a surprisingly emotional moment for me – I didn’t expect seeing her again would be so touching, but it definitely was.
Given the core believes that are so obvious, it is interesting – and maybe even slightly contradictory – to see who gets to survive the events of the novel and who is still standing in the end. Those who don’t survive practically don’t get any chance at all.
But not everything about it worked as well as that did. I was very hesitant about the depiction of autism in the novel. On the one hand, I felt that it built on a lot of stereotypes, especially considering that it portrays, yet again, an autistic person who is supersmart. On the other hand, I did see that a lot of research went into writing Stephen and he does manage to avoid some of the pitfalls. I would love to hear from an #actuallyautstic person about this, but I wasn’t able to find anything online. (If you are autistic or know of an autistic person who has written about the novel, please let me know.)
Nevertheless, I was absolutely caught up in the story and the book and I pracitcally devoured it. It’s a great read that provides a sense of closure to the story starting in The Girl with All the Gifts, despite it being a sequel, that I really loved.
Summarizing: Pretty damn wonderful.