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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Opening Pandora's box
It's difficult to know what to say about The Girl With All The Gifts without spoiling a twist that occurs early on in the novel and governs the entirety of the story from then on, but I think I'm safe to say that this story is set in an imagined dystopia, where huge population loss has decimated Britain and the few survivors hang on in military bases. On one of these...
Published 8 months ago by Laura T

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected but quite enjoyable
This was picked as a Book Club choice and was expected to be a murder mystery of some sort as the blurb is somewhat vague. Imagine our surprise when into a zombie/ apocalyptic tale. However I did end up enjoying the somewhat simplified tale, the reversal of inhuman humans with a humane monster and the range of somewhat stereotypical characters. The story has pace and some...
Published 23 days ago by Melanie Jane


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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Opening Pandora's box, 12 Dec 2013
By 
Laura T (Bradford-on-Avon, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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It's difficult to know what to say about The Girl With All The Gifts without spoiling a twist that occurs early on in the novel and governs the entirety of the story from then on, but I think I'm safe to say that this story is set in an imagined dystopia, where huge population loss has decimated Britain and the few survivors hang on in military bases. On one of these bases lives ten-year-old Melanie, who spends most of her time in a cell and the rest in a classroom, where she soaks up information, especially Miss Justineau's stories of Greek mythology. But she and her fellow pupils are treated like dangerous animals, shackled to their seats and hosed down with disinfectant every Sunday. To Melanie, this is normal, but the reader realises within the first few pages that something is wrong...

This is a gripping and well-written thriller that runs along familiar lines, but manages to rise above its competitors by the sheer effectiveness of its storytelling and its careful handling of the central character, Melanie. I find that using child narrators is a very risky business, as it's so easy for the author to depict a child as twee, unrealistically naive, or sickeningly perceptive and honest. The depiction of Melanie, however, is almost entirely successful. This is partly due to her secret, which steers her depiction away from the usual cliches of childhood, partly due to the fact that she is not the only narrator, and partly because she does not narrate in first person, so MR Carey does not have to attempt the 'voice of a child'. I still had some niggles about her presentation, such as the story she writes early on in the novel, which does not read to me as the work of a ten-year-old with a 'genius-level' IQ, but as the work of a younger child with this level of ability. However, this can possibly be explained by the fact that we do not know how long Melanie has been in education. Still, I felt a little uneasy about her flawless moral code, and I could never relate to her quite as closely as I could to the other characters.

Fortunately, the rest of the cast are satisfyingly individual. Miss Justineau is the most traditionally likeable, but I found myself increasingly fascinated by the two soldiers and, especially, by the most morally suspect member of the crew, scientist Caroline Caldwell. I could never quite tell whether Caroline was meant to be the villain, fulfilling a 'mad scientist' stereotype, but I hope not, because I found her much more interesting as a 'grey' character. Although Caroline oversteps a certain moral line at least once during this novel, I found that I was still broadly sympathetic to her, and understood why she adopted the mindset she did to do the job she had to do. Her final futile discovery is a fitting end to her journey, and she performs the role of antagonist in the narrative without descending into cackling evil. This is a key addition to Carey's story, and I don't think that the novel would have worked nearly as well without her.

I would recommend this novel both to established SF fans and to those who do not usually read SF. Unlike most novels with a twist in the tale, it delivers fully upon what it promises, and does not rely on gimmicks to supply its consistently mounting tension. It should also have considerable crossover potential for young adult readers. Good stuff.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another world disaster – but what a story!, 27 Mar 2014
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I gave up reading science-fiction long ago, finding its latter-day manifestations pretentious, longwinded, ill-written or downright incomprehensible. "The Girl with All the Gifts" (ordered on the strength of an Amazon recommendation and the intriguing title) turns out to be one of the best science-fiction yarns I’ve ever read. I won’t fall into the blurb-writer’s and amateur reviewer’s error of outlining the plot, and I advise you to avert your eyes quickly from any review that seems about to do so. The book’s startling extrapolation from real scientific fact deserves to have its impact.
The author is evidently not only a scientist but a born novelist. His technique of hooking the reader instantly but only gradually revealing the full horror of the situation (and its explanation) is brilliantly executed. The writing style is deceptively easy and light, and wastes no words. The story is perfectly paced, each successive incident more gripping. There are a couple of places where the logic is a bit thin, but the story sweeps you on. At 90% on the Kindle’s indicator of how much you have read, you wonder how it can finish so soon. But it lets itself down on the very last page with a perfunctory, wishful “happy ending”, quite out of kilter with the gritty “reality” depicted up to that moment.
Nevertheless I’d give this book six stars if I could, for sheer inventiveness, good scientific background, good characterisation and very good writing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding, 2 May 2014
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This is a great book. Once I started I couldn't stop. A real page turner or whatever the kindle equivalent is!
I had not heard of the author before but will be seeking out his other work. The plot is plausible, the characters complex and well rounded. As I read the story I constantly thought that it would make a great film, some of the scenes just like leapt off the page into my imagination.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, 5 Dec 2013
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I'm a huge fan of Carey. His Felix Castor books are brilliant urban fantasy, his Lucifer and Unwritten graphic novels are excellent, his work on Hellblazer is magnificent and his recent book (with his with and daughter co-authoring) 'The City of Silk and Steel' is a fascinating retelling of the Arabian nights tales.

This book is possibly his best yet - no mean feat considering my love for his Felix Castor series.

Telling the story of Melanie, a girl in a secure facility in near future, devastated England it is simply beautifully written.

Living in her own cell, strapped to a wheelchair when she is allowed out for lessons, Melanie is no ordinary kid.

The prose in the first chapter is at once vivid, haunting and sad with glimpses of what is to come further on. The story is fantastic, forcing the reader to read just one more chapter...then another.

If you're. a fan, buy it. If you're not, try it.

Best book of 2014 already.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected but quite enjoyable, 28 July 2014
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This was picked as a Book Club choice and was expected to be a murder mystery of some sort as the blurb is somewhat vague. Imagine our surprise when into a zombie/ apocalyptic tale. However I did end up enjoying the somewhat simplified tale, the reversal of inhuman humans with a humane monster and the range of somewhat stereotypical characters. The story has pace and some thrills although too many coincidences to be believable. I think it would suit the teenage market down to the ground
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ***, 12 Jun 2014
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I enjoyed this book, but I'm left feeling slightly empty. Like there was no proper resolution. Though I suppose that's the point. And I had literally no emotional attachment to any of the characters, which was a shame as I think that would have massively changed my perspective.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very disturbing dystopian novel, 19 Aug 2014
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
All the best dystopian novels are frightening because their premises are plausible and carefully thought out, and that's certainly the case here. I won't spoil it by explaining, but it's a good idea for a post-apocalyptic scenario. This is a very disturbing, unsettling novel about a young girl who lives in an army-run institute in a Britain that has experienced destruction at the hands of zombie-like creatures. Although the principal character is a child, it's most definitely not a children's book.

It's not a story that pulls any punches and therefore isn't for the faint hearted. It is gory in parts and emotionally distressing in others. I found it highly compelling and difficult to put down. Whilst I found it an uncomfortable read, there's no way I could have stopped myself from reading to the end. A sort of horrified fascination kept me glued to the pages. The four star rating reflects that I found it so disturbing I couldn't wholly enjoy it, which I don't personally like in a book. But it is testament to how well written it is that it stirred up such strong feelings.

There is a fairly small cast of characters, and there's a lot we don't really learn about them. The adult characters tend to fit into standard roles for the genre, and aren't as well filled out as they could have been. Melanie, the girl at the centre of it all, is perhaps a bit too grown-up and capable to be believable, given that she's supposed to be about 10 and has led a sheltered existence. As with many post-apocalyptic novels, the limited range of knowledge of the characters due to their geographical isolation means that some of the events don't ever make total sense to the reader.

Fans of horror and darker science fiction and fantasy will definitely want to read this. People who like thrillers and plot-driven stories will also find it worthwhile. If you get easily distressed by powerfully written books about darker subjects or prefer to avoid vivid descriptions of unpleasant things, this isn't the right book for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, just wow!, 19 Aug 2014
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It's not often I read a book which totally wows me, entrances me, makes me think and feel, laugh and cry, makes me question myself and society and just when I think it's reached it's climax, it gets better.

You. Must. Read. This. Book.

If this is the only book you read all year, you'll have done good.

I can't possibly put into words how good this book is. But I'll try.

This is the story of Melanie, we start off not knowing much about her, to be honest she doesn't know much herself, so we learn as she learns. I'm not going to spoil anything, there is quite a bit of hype about this book and it's very mysterious, but I want you to read this book like I did, not knowing anything.

The writing is excellent, I really felt for the characters. The unravelling of the story is simply superb, just when I thought I'd figured it out another shock was thrown in. Everything gels together, it all makes sense as it happens, nothing jars. The short chapters make the pace of the action quick, so tempting just to read one more. I flew through this book, it just doesn't feel like a long book. The story is told from different characters' perspectives, a technique which I love and works really well for understanding the person.

This book will make you question humanity, what is important in life and what are the ethics of what's happening? It has so much symbolism which I really can't go into as it'll spoil so much for you. I read this for my book group and I can't wait to discuss it with them, this is the type of book which you will need to discuss with someone (who has read it of course).

I didn't dislike anything about this book, the ending is marvellous, I put this book down with a smile on my face and I hope you will too. Just read it and this review will all make sense.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A lost opportunity, 18 Aug 2014
I think those of us who rated this book low did so because, we either felt misled or that it was a lost opportunity for something better and more innovative.

I did guess from the blurb that it was sci-fi, monster (maybe vampire) related so I was not misled in that respect, but I feel that the book starts with a clever refreshing idea and viewpoint, a bit like the Passage, and it could have become an interesting psychological adventure/drama on the fate of these 'special' kids. I thought e.g. that they would reach Beacon, and that there would be an interesting interaction with the humans there and tough decisions to be made. But instead, as many others commented, the book follows a very clichéd formula.

Funnily enough, today I found by chance an article on hit 2013 video game 'The Last of Us' with a very similar plot, and it makes me wonder who's plagiarised whom here. If the author had focused on Melanie and the other children, and the various and evolving human reactions, he would have written something more unique. But as it stands, it's a 'The Last of Us' rip-off. Considering that the real identity of the author is not revealed but we know he is involved in high profile X-men etc. comic book writing and has been involved in a film (presumably he's Mike Carey?), it makes you wonder if the film industry is what he targeted all along.

In any case, the book was an OK read, but let me down. I found the 'Road' or 'The reapers are the angels' a lot more dramatic, poignant, and substantial.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Girl With All The Gifts, 8 Aug 2014
Is it possible not to be drawn in by that premise? If you think it is I’d probably say you’re wrong because, for me, it was impossible not to read on and find out more. I don’t know what I expected, I hadn’t heard of Carey at all, and it probably didn’t go in the direction I had expected (we know, as I keep going on about it, that I’m not crazy for your dystopia/sci-fi malarkey). I can be turned, I can appreciate something good when it is good and I think this was good and worth the time I gave it, if not more.
Melanie is fascinating and the characters which surround her are in their own way too. The way Carey builds up his novel is fantastic, the first few chapters where everything is almost purely through Melanie’s eyes are beyond enticing, I had to know where we were going to end up next and what the deal was with the wheelchair and Melanie herself. Finding out was really shocking and as everything unfolded it appeared Carey was moving tentatively in familiar ground, in one way or another.
See, not knowing who Carey was meant I didn’t know he’d spent a good chunk of his career working for an imprint of DC comics and this experience definitely comes through in The Girl With All The Gifts. The more I read the more I was able to slide the characters into comic book roles almost, which was comforting in some ways and made the novel more enjoyable in others. I’m not a big comic reader but I can appreciate a good story and I like the traditional good guy bad guy format. This novel isn’t like that, the bad guy isn’t really the bad guy and the good guy isn’t really the good guy. Knowing who is who is difficult, especially through the eyes of Melanie.
I don’t want to talk much more about this novel because it’s hard to do so without giving stuff away but suffice to stay the suspense builds and in amongst the violence, death and depth of emotion there’s a really solid plot which I needed to keep going with. The ending is not what I expected, I really want to say more but yet again, it would ruin it so yeah, it’s brilliant and such a sweet little twist, you should read it, whether you like the kind of fantasty/sci-fi-/dystopia type things or not.
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