Fashion inspiration can be found anywhere, and books are incredible sources for style innovation.Book Inspired Fashionexplores these treasure troves, and brings them them to you in looks inspired by vibrant characters, far away lands, brilliantly woven plotlines, and more.
Book Cover via Amazon
I’m the first to say that I almost never read horror fiction. Yes, I’ve read The Shining and enjoyed it, but other than that, there aren’t many horror novels that I’ve read and enjoyed. Therefore, The Girl With All The Gifts was a surprise.
This book is definitely not for everyone, but give it a chance before you brush it off as just another zombie book. The characters feel painfully real, and as Joss Whedon puts it, “painfully human.” It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before, and it’s nothing like what I’d expected. This is actually a huge selling point for this novel - it's a fresh story in a relatively worn-out genre.
No, this book didn’t offer me the fairy-like fashion inspiration that The Night Circus did, but the thrills, tears, and fear I felt while reading this book left me with just as prominent an impression, and I found inspiration nonetheless.
Before we get to the fashion though, here's some background on the novel:
Reading Between the Lines
Written by Mike Carey, who has previously contributed to Marvel’s superhero comics, The Girl With All The Gifts has received rave reviews for being terrifyingly original, clever, and imaginative. In the 2014 Goodread’s Choice Awards this past December, which received more than 3 million votes, The Girl With All The Gifts ended up as the 1st runner up in the horror category, which really demonstrates how passionate readers are about this remarkable book.
The book begins with Melanie, a girl who is strapped into her wheelchair every day, taken to class with the other kids, given painful acid showers, and fed the occasional bowl of worms. It becomes apparent that these children are actually “hungries” that are being studied because they have dominated the world for a number of years.
Caroline Caldwell is the (mad) scientist in charge of experimenting and studying possible cures, and is just about the most frighteningly ambitious woman ever. Miss Justineau is a kind-hearted but tough teacher who truly enjoys teaching the children, including Melanie, and Sergeant Parks rounds off the main cast by being the hardened man in charge of the physical demands of controlling the compound perimeters, as well as the children.
Things quickly escalate, and throughout the book, you’ll be dying to know how and if things ever get resolved, because really, how does one get out of a post-apocalyptic, zombie-filled world? You’ll have to read to find out!
As a warning, this book does get gruesome with descriptions that were a bit too graphic for me sometimes, but this almost made the book more compelling - like when you’re watching a horror movie and want to look away and watch what’s going on at the same time! This novel is truly thrilling, and for the most part, the narrative style is crisp and straightforward, which makes the violent scenes blunter and the heartwarming parts more painful.
1. The Hungry Kid
“The hungry kid smiles, as though the cascade of waste paper is a firework display. She squints into the sun to follow them as they fly” (Carey).
Educated and intelligent far beyond her years, Melanie is someone you support throughout the entire book, no matter what she feels, does, or says. As a “hungry,” she’s treated worse than most animals because she’s been set up for experimentation at the hands of Caroline Caldwell her whole life. Her feelings are raw and unfiltered, and I felt more of a connection to her than the actual “humans” in the book.
Ironically, this first look is inspired by a small, overlooked detail in the book, and doesn’t really represent the novel as a whole, although I find it to be an important feature. This look celebrates Melanie’s love of bright colors and her vibrant imagination that sees nature, wildflowers, and seasons far beyond the walls of the compound.
It also pays homage to the eye-catching yellow cover, which is what first grabbed my attention – I actually saw this book for the first time in an airport in Norway! This yellow dress is relaxed and feminine – things that Melanie isn’t allowed to feel, and the simplicity of the accessories reflect the fact that despite their physical and mental capabilities, the “hungries” really are, as Ms. Justineau always insists, children. The floral cardigan is also playful and fun, and doesn’t take away from the brightness of the look at all.
2. Dying for a Cure
“Caldwell rummages in her pockets, leaving dark red Bézier curves of blood on her white lab coat' (Carey).
Caroline Caldwell, as mentioned above, is ambitious to a frightening degree, and her tunnel vision drove me absolutely crazy from the second she was introduced to the moment I read her last words of the novel. She does, however, represent a very scientific, realistic edge to this story, and offers a possible solution for readers – in the future, what else can we rely on but the few remaining (but determined) scientists? I will say that there is actually a greater purpose for this character than simply being a bloodthirsty threat.
Caldwell’s labs and findings are a huge driving force in the book, and the conflict of a possible cure vs. innocent (hungry) lives persists for much of the plot. But this novel is far from a sterile medical story – even the labs have their fair share of gore and violence, and Caldwell doesn’t let blood or flayed open hands get in the way of her work.
This look is inspired by the juxtaposition of dried red blood with clean white fabric, which illustrates the very real bloodlust for a medical cure. The dress, therefore, is the statement piece of the outfit, and acts as the focal point of the look. The professional equipment (however much limited and outdated) and labs inspired the shoes and bag for this outfit, and both pieces have clean lines and a solid structure.
3. The Great Unknown
“Justineau throws out her arms, indicating the empty street, the long shadows of late afternoon. She doesn’t have to say or mime anything. The message is clear. We’re going to die" (Carey).
Minor spoiler alert: The description below does not spoil the ending of the novel, but does spoil approximately the first half of it.
After Miss Justineau, Melanie, Sergeant Parks, Gallagher, and Caroline Caldwell escape to the empty world that they haven’t dared step into before, the notice the utter lack of civilization and people. Yes, there are hungries, but they are more silent and move less than anyone would have guessed, and the total lack of security heightens the tension and fear.
Everyone prepares themselves for the worst case scenario, and this is clearly not a time for fashion. Luckily, our looks don’t have that same obligation, but the practical aspects of this outfit are inspired by the trek into the natural world the team had to go through. The boots are a sturdy staple, and the layers ensure that temperature swings won’t result in sunstroke or frostbite.
The color palette here is a bit nature-oriented, but doesn’t include bright colors, because the world in the book is a much more muted, deserted place that has, in effect, lost most of its color and vibrancy. Most of the surroundings are the remains and ruins of old buildings, and nothing seems alive or bright.
If you’re a fan of science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, or horror, I would highly recommend this book! It has a lot more depth and complexity than a lot of horror novels out there, because Mike Carey really writes to elicit much more than just fear: the amount of empathy and pain that permeates from the writing is pretty spectacular.
If horror isn’t your genre, I would still tell you to give it a chance: I didn’t even know that this book would be anything other than normal fiction when I picked up my copy, and have since been much more open to reading genres I would normally not go near.
Remember, fashion inspiration doesn’t have to come from pretty costumes and fashion-forward characters, or even from beautiful settings – they can come from within the characters themselves, because we all share something human with them.
Next week, I’m doing a complete 180 again, and it’ll be something I’ve been wanting to cover for a while.
Have you ever read a horror or zombie novel? What do you think about these looks inspired by such an unexpected genre? Would you wear any of these outfits? Let us know in the comments below!