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54 of 57 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 11 months ago by Laura T

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A post-apocalyptic-zombie-survivalist-with-a-twist sort of book
Hmmm, had I known this was a post-apocalyptic-zombie-survivalist sort of book, I'd have thought twice about offering to review it. Not really my thing, and once I'd started reading and the pennies were slowly dropping, I put it aside for a few days, but, if you review for Vine, you review what you pick, so I somewhat reluctantly went back to it, only to find that about a...
Published 11 months ago by DebB


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54 of 57 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
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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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5 of 5 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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3 of 3 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)   
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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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9 of 10 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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Post-apocalyptic goodness!, 3 Sep 2014
By 
Telboy (Holywood, Co Down, UK) - See all my reviews
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This was on offer at a local supermarket (which shall remain nameless) and I was intrigued by the title and the blurb, which made it sound like some sort of crime/hostage thiller or something! So my wife started to read it first but after a few pages gave it to me saying that it was some sort of "post-apocalytic nonsense", which really isn't her cup of tea at all. Well it's her loss because this is one of the best post-apoc novels I've read in ages, and I've read more than my fair share of that particular genre. The characters are well drawn, the scenarios believable and the action, while not exactly relentless, is enough to keep a reader happy. Unlike some other reviews, I didn't think the ending was in any way a happy or unsatisfying one - far from it, it's a real kick in the teeth ! I thoroughly enjoyed this. If you like post-apoc fiction and particularly the zombie sub-genre, I'm pretty sure you'll like it too. I hear there's a screenplay in the pipeline, which would be great as long as they don't make a complete dog's breakfast of it like World War Z.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A post-apocalyptic-zombie-survivalist-with-a-twist sort of book, 17 Dec 2013
By 
DebB (Oxfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
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Hmmm, had I known this was a post-apocalyptic-zombie-survivalist sort of book, I'd have thought twice about offering to review it. Not really my thing, and once I'd started reading and the pennies were slowly dropping, I put it aside for a few days, but, if you review for Vine, you review what you pick, so I somewhat reluctantly went back to it, only to find that about a third of the way through the pace shifts, the story changes, and I was off, caught up and hauled through to the the end.

This is a big book at 403 pages. There are lots of chapters, some less than a page long, and the story follows a single narrative arc, written in the third person, mostly from Melanie's point of view, but not solely.

The principal characters are all well drawn, altho' the fixated, science-trumps-everything doctor was a tad stereotypical. Melanie is a strong lead, and even as you begin to realise what her "gift" might be, you're still rooting for her. There are challenges throughout the book to what is humanity - and the relationships between Melanie and Justineau, and Melanie and Parks, are part of what make this book more interesting.

The end isn't quite what I expected, and seems to resolve pretty quickly for a book that's up 'til then taken its time. It doesn't, I think, bear too much deep thought - even as I read the last page my mind was offering quite a few "Well, yes, but how..." questions.
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7 of 8 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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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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