Title: The Girl with All the Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey
Rating: 9.5/10 (What this means)
Recommendation: YES! Drop whatever you are doing right this second and go find this book!!!
My Reading Method: Hardback (Purchased from a 3rd party on Amazon for $12)
“NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.
When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.
Melanie is a very special girl.
Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.”
***WARNING-MY REVIEWS OFTEN CONTAIN SPOILERS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!***
Um, Hello! Favorite book this summer! I don’t know if I was just craving something a little different or I’m suddenly into zombie books, but this one certainly did it for me. I honestly don’t know why more people aren’t talking about it because it really is the best thing I’ve read in a long while. (And come on, people like Joss Whedon and major news outelets like the Guardian are giving it positive feedback.)
It’s a little early to say, but this might be my favorite book of the year.
Additionally, I almost knocked all my other reviews down a notch just because I liked this one so much and wanted that to really mean something.
Sooooo, details… let’s talk about The Girl with All the Gifts…
How to start?
You see, I don’t want to actually ruin anything for you, dear reader. This book is something I am wholly encouraging you to go out and read ASAP, so I’m going to try extra hard to not give anything away. I’m going to do this by not detailing anything past the first 100 or so pages.
So first, let me just give you a few key words or tags I would connect to this book:
Twenty years ago, the world as you and I know it ceased to exist. The human population is greatly diminished due to a fungus, ophiocordyceps unilateralis (previously found in ants and a variety of other insects) which has now appeared in people, causing a zombie-like transformation.
*Hem, hem…* I don’t know about you, but I remember when zombie ants became a real thing. I remember sitting in front of my computer reading article after article about these particular ants that pick up this fungus on a forest floor, which then eats through their exoskeleton and spreads through their bodies. Next, the fungus causes the ants to climb as high as it can go and clamp down on a major vein on the underside of a leaf… until they die and a column of fungus sprouts from their head and body!!! I remember this vividly because it was hella creepy and I rationalized that human zombies could occur in real life. (YIKES!!!!) I really don’t think there is anything worse that can grow in my imagination than a world full of human corpses sprouting fuzzy white fungus stalks.
I’ll just let that ruminate.
Seriously. It’s horrifying. It is something I absolutely never ever want to see! It’s the stuff of my nightmares!
So much ‘ick’!
Anyway, moving on…
The book follows five different people from their POV: Melanie, a little girl that has become infected with the zombie virus; Ms. Helen Justineau, Melanie’s favorite teacher and base psychologist; Dr. Caroline Caldwell, a scientist determined to study the infection and seeking a cure; Sergeant Parks, a military man with ample experience with hostile territories; and Private Kieran Gallagher, a young man beginning his military career. The Girl with All the Gifts opens on a military base, the infected children go to school, learn, are transported in wheelchairs to their cells, and are used for basic experimentation by Dr. Caldwell. When the base if overrun by Junkers (communities of people that refused to go to government sanctioned environments when the outbreak occurred) these five individuals escape the attack and are forced to try to survive on their own.
The book is considered a thriller with some action elements; however, the action sequences never lasted more than a few pages at a time. I’ll admit, I found the book pretty creepy (perhaps because I read the last chunk of it at night, in the dark, with only my bedside lamp for illumination) perhaps especially so because the horror depicted in the book was just so damn believable. I guess I should take this moment to clarify: the book isn’t especially gory for this type of genre. Even if you have a queasy stomach I think you can make it through the story without any adverse reactions.
Things I think the book did exceptionally well:
The Girl with All the Gifts does a phenomenal job at giving a unique voice to each of the main characters. I always dread a book somewhat if I know it has multiple POVs because so few authors do the characters justice. I always feel it’s a personal offense to my intelligence when they all end up sounding the same. This is absolutely not the case with The Girl with All the Gifts. Each character has their own unique motivation to everything they think, do, and say. It was most starkly noticeable between the Caldwell (with her medical knowledge), Parks (with his ingrained military background), and Melanie (she’s a genius, but her actions and thought process were extremely childlike).
It’s obvious that the plot was thoroughly researched. I’m sure there are haters out there that can find fault with anything, but the science is real enough that you can get lost in the story without arguing with the author about technicalities.
Things I didn’t like about the book:
There were a couple typos… but nothing serious. I had a ridiculously difficult time finding anything wrong with it.
Cautions: Language; Some illusion to sexual behavior (although nothing descriptive). This book is probably fine for high school age and up. The Girl with All the Gifts DOES fall into the Adult fiction genre and can be enjoyed by both men and women.
My summary: I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book. I’ll be extremely surprised if it isn’t made into a movie. You won’t regret it.
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