The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey grabs you at the very beginning and hooks you with its mysteries and emotional characters.
Be warned, I will tell you what this story is about, if you would rather not know what genre of story this is, than don’t read this review.
4/5 16/25 possible score
Plot – 3(Fine)
Characters – 4(Strong)
Setting/World Building – 3(Fine)
Writing Style –3(Fine)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 3(Fine)
The Girl With All the Gifts starts out through the eyes of a young girl named Melanie. Melanie is a gifted young girl that is being held prisoner. Each day she gets wheeled down to a classroom while strapped to a wheelchair. She has a couple dozen other classmates that are also brought down in wheelchairs. Melanie’s favorite teacher is Miss Justineau. Miss Justineau is their favorite teacher because she reads stories like Greek myths and imaginative fiction. Miss Justineau talks to the children about the world above, because the children have never left their cells, except to go to class, and to take a special shower. At this special shower, each child is given a chemical bath, and something to eat, a large portion of worms. Because, even though these kids act normally most of the time, due to the chemical bath masking the delicious smell of humans, they could turn into uncontrollable monsters at any sign of flesh.
Why you might enjoy this book:
The Girl With All the Gifts introduces us to an extremely likable young girl in Melanie. Even though she has a side to her that wants to eat human flesh, she is a nice little girl. Unfortunately she can’t control herself very much when she smells a human, but the zombie side of her, is the lease interesting part about Melanie. She has been trapped in a cell for her entire life. She has never seen the sky or been outside, and the only things she knows about outside is what her teacher Miss Justineau talks about. Miss Justineau believes that these children are not bad and sincerely cares about Melanie. “Miss J,” as Melanie calls her, even strokes Melanie’s hair once, and feeling someone touch her is unlike something Melanie has ever felt before. Melanie learning new feelings, seeing new things, and learning about new ideas, is what makes this book good. Just imagine if you were 10 years old and everything that you know about life is a cell, and how much of a shock it would be to actually learn everything at once about the world.
The characters of The Girl With All the Gifts are just great. Other than Melanie and Miss Justineau, there is Dr. Caldwell, a scientist trying to find a cure to the infliction, Sargent Parks, a rough leader of the base army that protects them all, and his compatriot Private Gallagher, who is not old enough to remember what the world was like before the hungries. Each character has extremely different motives and personalities. Dr. Caldwell will do anything to find a cure to the infection, including unethical means. From her point of view we get detailed scientific data about the hungries and what created them. This is one of my favorite parts of the story, because from my limited knowledge of the zombie genre, there isn’t much material out there that explains exactly what is happening to the infected zombies. Getting that scientific side of the story really balanced out the more emotional side of the story with Melanie and Miss Justineau. They become extremely close and care for each other dearly.
Sargents Parks’ only concern is to keep everyone alive. He takes his job seriously and can come across as a bit of a hard man, but it is just because he wants to protect everyone. Gallagher is a young soldier that really hasn’t experienced life. So far his life has consisted of the barracks at the base and a family that mistreated him. Gallagher is ignorant of a lot of things but us, as a reader, connect with him, because he is the one that exhibits the most reasonable responses to situations.
Where this novel succeeds is during the times with these characters, together with each other. Their sharing of secrets, disappointments, and pains is what really resonated with me.
Why you might not like this book:
Lets be honest, the zombie market is really saturated at the moment. There are tv shows, movies, and video games that show every kind of zombie. I was a little disappointed when I read this, to find out it was a zombie book. I was hoping for something like Stephen King’s Firestarter but ended up with a decent zombie narration. Even though the plot was good, the characters were great, and the writing was decent, there was always a part of me that never wanted this story, and that is why I felt that people should know what this book is about.
This novel had an extremely solid first act and an exciting final act, but the middle portion of the novel struggled some for me. It all seemed so familiar because of video games like Day-Z and television shows like The Walking Dead. I think that readers that aren’t familiar with these two things will find the novel more exciting, but because I am a big fan of The Walking Dead, and I’ve played Day-Z, it seemed cliche.
Melanie discovering the world was such a big part of this novel and I did like it, but I have to be honest, explaining how a child feels about things that we take for granted, is interesting, but became monotonous after awhile. I felt like it was an easy thing to write and didn’t really have a whole lot of substance to it. For example, I could write about the first time I ever tasted pizza, each and every sense with painstaking detail, but in the end, all I’m doing is describing myself eat pizza, and no one wants to read that.
It might not seem like I enjoyed this very much but it was a good time. I gave it a 4 because it is a fun book that I wanted to learn the fate of these individuals. I thought the ending was strong and that helped my judgement of the story. The easiest way to make this book more interesting for me, would be, less Melanie, and more Caldwell/Parks. I might be a little burned out with zombie tales, but I really wanted something different, so even though I enjoyed this book, I was disappointed that this was the book that was written.