Review: The Girl With All The Gifts

16 July, 2014 Reviews 22 comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Girl With All The GiftsThe Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey
Series: Standalone
Published by Orbit Books on June 19th 2014
Pages: 460
Genres: Adult, Horror
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository


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.

From Goodreads

The problem is The Girl With All The Gifts is that it is amazing and I don’t want to tell you anything about it.

Not a thing

You see, one of the best parts of this book is how it unfolds. Each layer of the story is slowly revealed with as much intense build up as the human nervous system can take. You guys, this book is flat out creepy. Like my shoulders are tense, I kind of have goosebumps, WHAT’S THAT? NO DON’T TOUCH ME I’M SCARED creepy. I went in with zero idea of what to expect besides Ellen at Orbit was really excited about it, Joss Whedon and io9 loved it and I think maybe there are zombies or something. I think this approach is sort of key for getting the full effect of the narrative.

Unfortunately, this leaves me kind of at loose ends as far as reviewing goes. I will tell you that it contains some seriously disturbing shit. I have a pretty high threshold for (reading about) squicky stuff and there were a couple of scenes and descriptions I would gladly scrub from my brain (nonexistent memory for the win! In about 6 months I’ll be like ‘oh man, this book was really good, I’m going to reread’ and be shocked and horrified all over again).

I can also tell you that this book makes use of the monster as metaphorical whatsit thing that I love to pieces (I told you Joss loved it, right?). In my opinion, no truly good monster story is complete without asking who is really the monster, us or them? in some form or another. The Girl With All The Gifts does a brilliant job of showcasing the highs and lows of humanity, often within the same character. It enraged me, it disgusted me, it broke my heart.

And then the end. Seriously fantastic ending, top notch stuff. I award high fives and thumbs up all around. It’s one of those endings you sort of see coming but also don’t because that’s not how it’s going to go down, right? It cant be. Can it?

I salute you

On a more nit-picky note, points deducted for calling zombies hungries. This is probably my least favorite of all zombie story tropes (The Walking Dead, I am side-eyeing you so hard right now). If the zombiepocalypse occurs in the world as we know it, why in the hell would we invent a new word for zombie? We already have a word for that. We apply it to everything. Are you really trying to tell me that if someone randomly started to violently eat another person’s face we wouldn’t all start screaming ZOMBIE at the top of our lungs? Respectfully, I call bullshit.

However, points added for this practical approach to wholesale zombie slaughter:

Broad sweeps, below the waist, full automatic. Bust their legs and they’ve got to drag themselves on their hands to get to you. Changes the odds a little.

Headshots are fine and dandy, but for the more hand/eye-coordinationally challenged among us (i.e. me) constantly trying for headshots is a good way to waste ammo and get eaten. Take out the knees and then pick ‘em off. Solid strategy.

Anyway, the point is, read this book. It’s incredible. The science is on the sounder end (grain of salt, not my area), the story is riveting and the alternating character POVs are brilliantly written and completely distinct. If you like fascinating, dark, post-apocalyptic survival thrillers you should be reading The Girl With All The Gifts right now. The end.

(I lied, that wasn’t quite the end. If you’re interested, stay away from the Goodreads reviews, people have different definitions of what constitutes a spoiler)

(To be fair, I have a fairly conservative view of what counts as one in this case.)

(If you’ve read it, stay vague in the comments. But omg this book, right?)

(The end for real.)


Meg Morley

Meg Morley

Co-bloggery at Cuddlebuggery
Meg is an all-around book nerd who just really wants to talk about books, preferably with other people but by herself will do. Find her on Goodreads.

22 Responses to “Review: The Girl With All The Gifts”

  1. Fry

    The only issue I’ve found with the science (a small one) is that the reason it targets ants and spiders and other such creepy crawlies, is that it needs to mature inside the host and the host has a wonderful protective exoskeleton.

    We’re pretty squishy in comparison.

    It also prompted me to look up photos of what the ants look like when they get fungussploded… because I’ve played The Last of Us and they did the fungus thing but not in the same way and I had to rid my mind of those mental images.

    • Meg Morley

      Yeah, I am thoroughly afraid to google that ($10 says I have googled it by the end of the day).

      I did like that it was a fairly plausible explanation (plausible in the sense that hey! I have actually heard of this killer bug fungus stuff!) which raises a whole new level of WAIT ARE YOU SAYING THIS COULD ACTUALLY GO DOWN scariness.

  2. tinatspoon

    This book definitely stays with you! I mean, ok, I only read it in February but usually details are out of my head by now. I was blown away by this and was rooting for Melanie so much which should be so wrong but the characters are so well written. Huge rollercoaster of emotions that I haven’t felt since reading Scott K Andrew’s School’s Out Forever (please check it out) I tweeted that and both authors were chuffed 🙂
    I googled the Attenborough thing. Added an extra creep factor. Mother Nature is a scary woman and a woman scorned…
    I’ve seen zombies as slow-walking things for a long time so I didn’t have a problem with the hungries thing. This book had me crying, whooping with joy, grimacing in disgust, all sorts of feelings. The ending. Oh what an ending. Beautiful really.

    • Meg Morley

      YEP! My lack of book memory is taking on legendary proportions but this one is tattooed all over my brain. I want to hug Melanie so bad it makes my arms twitch, such a well-done character.

      Added School’s Out Forever to my TBR, it looks awesome! Thanks for the rec 🙂

      Hahahaha, googling stuff from this book is a terrible idea.

      I guess I see zombies as shambling and/or spry so I don’t separate terms. Idk, it’s such a small thing to be bothered by but I am. I think it all ties in to my high hopes/crushed dreams in regards to The Walking Dead.

  3. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    Somehow I hadn’t heard anything about this book until I read your review, and ZOMG I need to read it now! Sounds absolutely incredible. I love creepy/weird/disturbing stuff (in the least creepy, weird, or disturbing way) so this one just sounds phenomenal. I’m also looking to branch out towards more adult, so this seems perfect! Thanks for the awesome review, and I’ll definitely stay away from reading Goodreads reviews of it.
    P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex recently posted…WoW – Adrenaline CrushMy Profile

    • Meg Morley

      YESSSS. I’m so glad I brought it to your attention because SERIOUSLY GOOD STUFF HAPPENING HERE. It’s got it all, creep, gore, action, suspense, brilliant character arcs, etc. So very worth checking out. I hope you love it!

  4. Amelia

    Interesting. Though your review was, frankly, awesome… I’m still debating whether to pick it up because thrillers are not really my area. But I will keep it on the back burner for now! Maybe in ten years, when my spine has finally hardened, I’ll remember your awesome review and pick it up. 🙂

    Amelia | The Authoress
    Amelia recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (32)My Profile

    • Meg Morley

      This book is not for everyone, specifically those who are easily squicked out/don’t like horror (which I totally get) but I highly recommend it if you are interested!

    • Meg Morley

      SO HARD. I have so many thoughts on so many things but gaaahhhhh all must be revealed in time! Such a good book, so perfectly put together. LOVE!

      Speaking of amazing zombie books with lots of fun science/medical bits and awesome characters, have you read Feed? If you like this one I think you might also enjoy the Newsflesh Trilogy (it’s kind of my favorite thing ever)

      • Mel@thedailyprophecy

        I loved Parasite by Mira Grant and I’m very curious about that series. I have the first and third book, but the first time I tried Feed I wasn’t in the mood for it. I have to pick it up again soon 🙂

  5. George Swift (Swiftbooks)

    I went in thinking that this book was going to be a kind of The Fault in our Starsy kind of book but damn your review tells me wrong! The blurb of the book really doesn’t give anything away and nor does your review and i’m intrigued on what everyone is hiding from me! As in saying it’s creepy? Again i’m surprised and intrigued! I’m going out to get this book now! Thanks for the review 🙂
    George Swift (Swiftbooks) recently posted…Review PolicyMy Profile

    • tinatspoon

      George, if you read the minimal book blurb about Melanie joking, you’ll know something’s not quite right. Please read it, you won’t regret it. Probably 😉

    • Meg Morley

      Oh man, this book is about as far from The Fault In Our Stars as the Earth is from the sun. I would drop those expectations immediately. That said, it is FANTASTIC and I highly recommend it.

      • Anonymous

        I really don’t know why I thought it would be like The Fault In Our Stars.. I think it was just because I had recently finished that book and I really didn’t like it and I needed to get a good fantasy book down me to get me back on track but then I saw this book. I think I was real stupid saying it would be like it though. Going to start reading it tonight anyway.

  6. tinatspoon

    Meg, another rec would be Mike Carey’s Felix Castor series. I read “The Devil You Know” when it came out, I loved it! I was pleasantly surprised to find out they were one and the same author and have bought the next couple in the series now my memory’s been jogged.

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