Queer Revolution, Zombie Uprisings, and the problem with M. R. Carey’s The Boy on the Bridge
I was excited to read M. R. Carey’s The Boy on the Bridge; I requested it months in advance from the library where I work, and when I…
Carey’s original novel is a treasure trove of ethical dilemmas, examining the morality of scientific experimentation, the rights of the hungry children as not-human but not-quite-monster, the questionable prioritization of human life over a kind of life that is not yet understood. Monster theory, for years, has told us that where there is a monster, in fiction, there is a mirror of someone or something marginalized. After all, that’s what monsters are: warnings of what lies beyond the border of what is socially acceptable, reminders of the consequences of breaking the rules. Monsters have always been signposts for what their societies fear the most: the racial Other, the independent woman, the transgressive queer. Carey’s monsters, the hungry children like Melanie, are no different; they are a sympathetic allegory for any community oppressed or marginalized by society and by its institutions.
When, at the end of Gifts, Melanie burns down the formerly prevailing social order and claims the world for herself and her kind, it is a revolution. It is a statement of protest in a world so broken that the only way to improve society is to start over from scratch.
But at the ending of Bridge, the now-matured hungry children set out to help the remaining humans from Beacon, now living in the Scottish mountains, offering their time and labor to produce and procure food, and to set off across the globe in search of any other survivors. Rather than providing us with an insight into what the world has become, in the hands of the hungry children and free of the civilization that tried to eradicate them, Bridge returns the world, in its way, to the remnants of that civilization.