The Girl with All the Gifts by M R Carey

I finished reading The Girl with All the Gifts on Monday after picking it up on Sunday!  It was intense and gripping and I certainly had no idea what I was in for when I picked it up.  I’ll start off by saying that throughout the story the central character, Melanie, loves Greek mythology. She is particularly drawn to the story of Pandora and her box which is very fitting because reading this book was in a small way like opening Pandora’s box.  I had no idea what to expect going in and in fact went into this with totally the wrong expectations.  (I was thinking the girl with all the gifts must have some sort of super powers for example).  To be honest, for the first few pages, as I started to realise what was going on, I had visions of putting the book down, seriously I did!  Not because it was badly written but more because I wasn’t sure that I was really in the mood.  I read a couple more pages, then a couple more.  The next thing I knew the Sunday dinner was burnt and I was half way through the book.

So, basically, I’m not going to give a long account of plot.  It would be very easy to give away the story and its much better to have the revelations without any prior knowledge.  The story is a post apocalyptic style book and there are hungries (zombies) – but, in case you’re now groaning don’t be misled.  Whilst there might be a few familiar ideas playing out here the story is an interesting and compelling read that feels like a fresh visit on this idea.  It takes a strong look at humanity and the different depths that people will go to in order to survive not to mention the way that everyone has their own justification for what they think is ‘best’ in any given situation.

The start of the book opens on an army base.  The majority of the UK’s population seems to have been wiped out and the remaining few survivors are trying to stay alive whilst attempting to find a cure.  Amongst others on the base is Dr Caldwell – an ambitious scientist with ideas of saving the world and being recognised as the saving grace of humanity.  A teacher called Miss Justineau and her pupils – including Melanie. Melanie and her fellow classmates never go outside.  They spend all their time either in the classroom or in their own cells.  Each day follows a pattern that only changes in the type of information they are fed.

On the outside of the base are the hungries.  Also, there are the junkers – they’re also survivors – but, they’ve turned a little bit nasty.  They’re desperate for food and other goods and quite frankly are not afraid to use force to take it.

I haven’t read this author before and found his writing style very easy to read.  He managed to make me feel something for all of the characters  – even if it was extreme dislike!  The setting was easy to imagine.  The zombies were scary – think fast moving and relentless, brutal, bloodthirsty and grotesque – your basic zombie nightmare really.  There were a number of twists and shocks along the way and the ending was unexpected.

I can’t say too much more about this without turning into that person, the one who likes to blurt out the ending of a film or the name of the murderer before you’re been to see the film or picked up the book!  What I can say is that this was surprising in a good way.  The author effectively combines horror, sci fi and dystopia.  He provides enough information to give you a basis for what’s occurred but without inundating you with terminology and the need to rush to the dictionary.

Basically, this a damn good read.  It takes the idea of Pandora – who was the original girl with all the gifts – and gives it a different twist.  The ending reminded me of one of my favourite books – but, unfortunately I can’t tell you because it would give the ending away!  Also, it reads like a self contained novel which is quite unusual – that being said, I would definitely pick up more about this world from this author if he chose to continue and I will undoubtedly check out some of his other works having now read this.

My recommendation is to read this – but, if you’re cooking dinner make something that doesn’t require attention, otherwise, once you pick this up, you’ll be eating burnt offerings.

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12 Responses to “The Girl with All the Gifts by M R Carey”

  1. Genki Jason

    I’ve read some of Carey’s work so I’m intrigued by this and your good write-up plus I like post-apocalyptic stuff like Fallout. That written, the zombies are called zombies, right?

    • lynnsbooks

      They’re definitely zombies – but with a different take on the disease, etc. Plus there’s a twist which is revealed very early on – and then it sort of twists unexpectedly at the end. I found it quite gripping to be honest.
      Lynn 😀

  2. jenclair

    I’m not familiar with Carey, but I like dystopian settings. I also like books that have connections to mythology. This one sounds like something I’d enjoy.

    • lynnsbooks

      I hope you give it a go. I just liked the Pandora take – to a certain extent it’s almost as though that’s where Carey got the idea for this from.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Wendleberry

    Gah! I want to read this book so much, and your review has only turned that want into a need! Must buy!

    • lynnsbooks

      I really liked it. It just gripped me. I hope you read it – I’d like to see what you make of it too.
      Lynn 😀

  4. 6 Month Review ‘best so far list’ | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] The Girl with All the Gifts by M J Carey – Went into this with no preconceived ideas and it really wowed me. […]

  5. My best reads for 2014 | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] The Girl with All the Gifts by M R Carey.  Another book that seemed to take the blogosphere by storm.  A very engaging and entertaining read.  I’m not going to give away any spoilers in case you haven’t read it – BUT – if you haven’t read it, then, you know, stop doing the above mentioned prevaricating and shake a tail feather.  It’s worth it so treat yourself. […]

  6. Ana

    I am glad you enjoyed this book as much as I did but now I am curious about what other book it reminds you of!

    I would also read more if the author chose to continue this world. I have to admit that, after that ending, I really wish he would create a sequel.

    • lynnsbooks

      Mmm, I wonder what I was thinking of – I’ll have to go back and have a think!! That’s the thing with my reviews – I sometimes feel like I should do a parallel review with spoilers – for my own benefit!
      I think it would lend itself to a next in series although I don’t think there are any plans.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Ana

    Yep 🙂
    It’s pretty amazing how the title is so misleadsing but the book does not fail to deliver a great tale, huh? Just not what you expected.
    I would dare to say that a lot of folks who gave this book a bad review failed to enjoy it due to not being able to set aside their expectations. It really is an exciting book which managed to make something old seem new. And the ending… Oh, that ending!!
    ‘Nuf said 😛

  8. ‘MOST WANTED’ | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Girl with All the Gifts by M J Carey – bring on the zombies with a difference! […]

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