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47 of 49 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 9 months ago by Laura T

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what it seems
It's hard to review this without spoilers because the book suddenly changes shortly after the sample comes to an end. I'll do my best though.

The book starts with a child at a special and rather horrible school but with one teacher who is kind to her. It reminded me of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro but that was misleading as this book is very...
Published 6 days ago by G. E. Langridge


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47 of 49 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)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Girl With All The Gifts, 31 Mar 2014
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
In the mornings, five mornings a week, Melanie waits quietly in her cell for Sergeant Parks and his team to collect her and take her to class. She hopes it will be a Miss Justineau day, because Melanie loves the days when Miss Justineau takes the class. In particular, she loves the stories that Miss Justineau tells; tales of Aeneas, of Pandora, of places and people Melanie feels she knows and understands, out there in the world Melanie has never seen. Because Melanie and all her classmates are special and so they must be treated as such.

Quite what’s happening in this book takes a little while to unfold before the reader; seeing things initially from Melanie’s perspective, things sit a little off centre from what we might consider ‘reality’, until the reader starts to understand why. When Melanie tells Sergeant Parks that she won’t bite, he doesn’t find it funny. And when you find out why, that’s only the beginning of the shocks that wait for the unsuspecting reader in this book. Is the fate of humanity hanging in the balance? And what can Melanie do about it?

This is not a book for the faint-hearted; it’s emotional, and it’s bloody, and everybody in this game is playing for keeps. But if you like a gritty dystopian viewpoint from which to view our possible future, this is a book that will have you pinned to the pages. This is a fantastic book; breathless pacing takes the reader through a narrative that’s clever, ‘real’, and just close enough to the bone to leave you faintly worried as you close the last page. Brilliant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what it seems, 24 Sep 2014
By 
G. E. Langridge (Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's hard to review this without spoilers because the book suddenly changes shortly after the sample comes to an end. I'll do my best though.

The book starts with a child at a special and rather horrible school but with one teacher who is kind to her. It reminded me of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro but that was misleading as this book is very different.

It quickly becomes apparent that things are not as they at first seemed and at that point the book becomes increasingly gory and violent. There are scenes of a medical nature, scenes that might have been torture, and bloody fights.

The premise is interesting and handled in an original way. I liked seeing into the minds of characters who took very different views of the situation and I would have liked to have seen how Melanie copes but I couldn't stomach the violence. I admit that I didn't read to the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great old school SF., 23 Sep 2014
Many years ago, before 'proper' SF was swallowed up by a deluge of wizards and alien princesses and morphed into pure fantasy, there was a very British genre of post-apocalypse novels which I loved. Imagine my delight, then, to stumble across 'The Girl With all the Gifts' (in a charity shop of all places) and discover that that lost genre was, in fact, alive and well.
This book ticks all the boxes - a 'yes it could happen' premise, real (British) locations, well defined (if rather stock) characters, and a thought-provoking plot which stays true to the logic of the original idea.
Blimey, I thought (or words to that effect) this could have been written any time in the last 50 or 60 years. And that's no bad thing because the novel I was most reminded of was the most famous of them all - John Wyndham's brilliantly original 'The Day of the Triffids'. Add in a dash of JG Ballard's 'The Drowned World', and Brian Aldiss's 'Greybeard' or even 'Hothouse' and there you have it.
So read this book - it's well written, well paced and exciting. And then, if you've never discovered the delights of British SF as it used to be, go and hunt out some of those others. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. And if 1960 is ancient history to you, then ask your Dad, or your Grandad - he'll tell you. Now, where did I put that old orange and white penguin of Day of the Triffids? Time it came down from the attic!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, 27 Dec 2013
By 
A. Lucas "bookworm" (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
From the very first page, I was engrossed in this book. I couldn't wait to find out more about Melanie and the other children she lives at the facility with. I don't want to give away any of the story because it's excellent - and you need to discover it as it goes along. I just want to say 'read this book' to anyone who enjoys this genre. You really won't be disappointed. My only niggle is that I didn't particularly like the ending..... not that it was disappointing or badly written or anything - just that I so wanted it to end differently!!! I would love to read a follow up, and discover how life continues in the England of the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well structured, well researched and tightly plotted BUT it is not as publisher presents. Be clear about content before buying., 11 Aug 2014
The book is beautifully structured, suspenseful, thoughtful, well researched and gripping. I found it hard to put down and finished it in a couple of days. The setting is convincing and evocatively conveyed. Characters are also engaging and convincingly drawn. Many scenes are so well painted that the book cries out for a film version. The characters' relationships are evocative, exasperating, and at often touching. I'd give the writer 5 stars.

However, the publisher has let the writer and audience down in its disingenuous presentation of the book - anyone thinking they are buying a thriller with a child at its heart should beware. Do not buy simply on the basis of the cover: the quotes and reviews do not indicate the subject matter at all. I mistakenly bought it for my daughter and was relieved I'd glanced within first - it's not suitable for all. Some who may enjoy this will likely not recognize its type from the cover and not buy it. A shame such a capable author wasn't better represented.

Spoiler Alert: This is very similar to I Am Legend, The Walking Dead and World War Z. If you don't like zombie apocalypse-style stories with periodic graphic horror do not buy this book.
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13 of 15 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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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, 5 Dec 2013
By 
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE WRITER WITH ALL THE GIFTS, 9 Aug 2014
Not read anything by Mike Carey before, but will rectify this mistake pdq. I'm a fan of literary horror, which has its modern roots in King, Straub, Barker etc., and after years of horror fiction mediocrity is back with a vengeance through Hill, Cronin, Bell etc. Several recent decent reads by Colson Whitehead and Aidan Bell feature zombies, but this one takes the proverbial biscuit, and it is by a British writer. No spoilers here, because there are several brilliantly conceived twists throughout, and it wouldn't be fair to give anything away at all.

Great characterisation all round, with the main 4 or 5 main protagonists some of the best characters I've enjoyed reading about in any genre for a number of years.
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