The Girl with All the Gifts
by M.R. Carey
Expected Publication Date: June 19, 2014
Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my final opinion.
View at the Traffic light:
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.
I knew virtually nothing when I requested The Girl with All the Gifts, and then reviews started coming in and mentioning zombies. If I had known that, I would have never requested The Girl with All the Gifts, because I consider zombies the most boring, bland, and gross(but not in an interesting way) supernatural creatures. I’ve managed to finish ONE zombie book before this, and that was only because the zombies were pretty much in the background. So the fact I finished The Girl with All the Gifts is a compliment in and of itself. Ultimately, while I kept going with the story and thought it decent, it didn’t utterly hook me or leave me reeling.
The girl in question in The Girl with All the Gifts is Melanie. Like the other children who live in the same compound she does, she’s wheeled in and out of a cell each morning, completely strapped down, into a classroom. The world-building is set up quickly and is greatly detailed, but it becomes clear that not all is as it seems in Melanie’s world. I’m hesitant to talk too much about the plot with The Girl with All the Gifts because it’s a spoiler minefield, so I’ll try to review it in more abstract terms than I normally would.
The Girl with All the Gifts becomes about a journey–both physical and philosophical– not just for Melanie, but for four other characters as well, including a scientist, a teacher, a military leader, and a new military recruit. I refer to them by their position and not their name mostly because I found them fairly forgettable as characters, since they played into those stock roles quite often. Some become more developed than others, but I was left feeling vaguely frustrated with overall characterization. There were some characters–like Melanie and the military leader–that were really well-written. Their characters just kept deepening over the course of the novel. And then others, like the scientist, never got the same treatment.
I learned that the Girl with All the Gifts was realized by a comic writer/screenwriter, and I think it totally shows, because the visual writing, descriptions, and pacing were the strengths of the book. Even when I wasn’t fully invested emotionally in the plot, The Girl with All the Gifts kept me engaged, and raised some pretty interesting questions. While it didn’t manage to convert me into a zombie fan, I liked the new approach.
I didn’t love The Girl with All the Gifts, but even as a zombie-hater, I have to give it credit for keeping me reading and managing to do something new with a creature I consider some of the most boring. I would have liked deeper characterization for some of the characters, but I understand why it’s been a loved book so far this year. 3/5 cupcakes.