The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey - Book Review

Monday 1 September 2014

Title: The Girl with All the Gifts
Author: M.R Carey
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: 6th June 2014
Genre: Horror/Post Apocalyptic
Rating: ★★★★★


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.

This review is quite vague as I wanted to avoid spoilers and those turn of events which make the book so much more exciting when you're not aware of them before reading! 

In a nutshell: A refreshingly unique twist on the classic zombie, thrilling yet poignant tale, intense relationships, strong characterisation, and zombie action.

The Girl with All the Gifts encompasses everything you could want in a zombie novel.

It’s post-apocalyptic, thrilling, enigmatic, and action packed but at the same time, explores the complexities of humanity, compassion, and mortality through a cast of well-developed characters. The Girl with All the Gifts has easily become one of my favourite novels, as Carey manages to writes a novel which is thrilling and packed with refreshing zombie action, yet manages to be poignant and moving at the same time.

The characters are very well developed and the relationships between most characters are intense in different ways. Each character develops wonderfully and although they seemingly start out quite archetypal, (the military guy, the civilian, the scientist, etc.) they develop their own unique personalities and become so real and believable throughout the course of the novel. 

The use of third person narration, with each chapter being told from the perspective of a different character really works well, allowing an insight into each character’s motivations, back stories and flaws, which have an overall impact on their decisions throughout the novel and give them a lot of dimension. 
The character dynamics and intense relationships, centering around ten year old Melanie, and unique twist on the classic idea of zombies really makes this novel so compelling and unique.

The story is a classic tale of survival in a post-apocalyptic world and the zombie twist really keeps it interesting and prevents this novel from falling into the predictable post-apocalyptic category, rather, it’s exciting, interesting and thrilling! The zombie infection is described with such detail that it is both terrifyingly and fascinatingly believable. The Cordyceps fungus (which is real and actually effects ants and other insects!) is such an interesting way for a zombie apocalypse to start. Before reading this novel, I was familiar with Cordyceps however Carey explains it straightforwardly and even references a real documentary by David Attenborough which I happen to have watched before and it was nice to see it referenced! (Would recommend a watch!)

The action in the novel is not so much that it overpowered the story, and it’s not a story based solely on violence and action, rather it’s a blend of awesome zombie action combined with a gripping story of survival in a post-apocalyptic world. I found some parts towards the beginning of the novel a little slow but once the story gets going, it really gets going. I don’t want to spoil anything but notable mentions to the ending!

On a slightly side note, I found that this novel quite similar to the PlayStation 3 game, ‘The Last of Us.’ Both explore intense parent-child relationships, both use the Cordyceps fungus as the cause of the zombie outbreak and both take place about twenty years after the initial outbreak, dealing with humanity coping in a post-apocalyptic world. Essentially, they are both emotionally charged, action packed zombie stories and if you enjoy one, I think you will really enjoy the other!

Overall, Carey crafts a gripping post-apocalyptic tale of survival in a zombie wasteland with a twist, which is uniquely thrilling yet poignant and dreary yet hopeful. In short, it’s thought provoking and moving with a superb dose of zombie action and I wholeheartedly recommend this book!

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