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91 of 96 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 19 months ago by Laura T

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Writer with all the gifts
My cousin texted me about this book, said everyone was talking about it, and had I heard of it? To be honest, I've spent the last year completely wrapped up in myself, so most popular culture - books, films, TV; anything that I'm not in, basically - had totally passed me by. But I didn't want to admit that. So I lied and said I'd just ordered it. Then I just ordered...
Published 5 months ago by Mrs Madrigal


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91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Opening Pandora's box, 12 Dec. 2013
By 
Laura T (Oxford, 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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it, 24 Feb. 2015
By 
Ms. P. T. Silva Rosario "Petra Rosário" (London, England XD) - See all my reviews
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I walked into a bookshop and asked for the best book the assistant had read in AGES - they handed me this. I had no idea what it was about, I didn't even know what genre it fell into, all I knew was the cover looked interesting and the assistant said it was good. It was GREAT. The story just captured me. I couldn't put it down because I needed to know what happened next. I am not going to spoiler and I don't know how to talk about the plot without spoilering.
It was just good. And I needed a book like this in my life, one that you care about. One where you care about the characters even whenyou dont like them. It's good. Worth a read even if this isnt your usual type of book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, detailed, but a little predictable, 14 Dec. 2013
By 
David Burton "aenikata" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is mostly a zombie survival horror, but with a key twist regarding the central character. It's obvious almost immediately how she's different, so the question is how that is going to play out and why she's as she is. The story is generally fast-paced, with some periods more introspective as the scene is set from her view, but with many thinks happening that make for a dramatic change. There is a progression towards a finale that is not entirely unexpected, but some of the details may still surprise. It's more like many of the genre, where the answers unfold slowly so that by the time they a certain, they're not surprising.

It's the kind of book that you are likely to finish very quickly, and it's certainly up to keeping your interest through the book. The clues about things are spread throughout, so it remains coherent. Overall it's a good read for those who like apocalyptic, end of days or survival horror stories.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horror with a heart, 24 April 2015
By 
Joanne Sheppard (England) - See all my reviews
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I’ll be honest: I'm a bit over zombies. Zombie films, fiction and even TV programmes have enjoyed huge popularity in recent years, and although there have been plenty of interesting reinventions of the genre, I do feel like I’ve read and seen it all. That made me a little bit reluctant to pick up MR Carey’s critically acclaimed bestseller The Girl With All The Gifts, but as critics have rightly pointed out, there is more to this book than the walking dead.

The Girl With All The Gifts opens with Melanie, an exceptionally gifted 10-year-old, being taken for lessons with the rest of her class, all of whom live in bare cells with a single picture attached to the wall with mysteriously scarce Blu-Tack. When they’re taken to their classroom, they’re strapped into chairs at gunpoint by soldiers. And the few people allowed contact with them are doused in bitter chemicals that block their human scent.

Melanie and her classmates, then, are not like other children – but crucially, neither are they like the infected, cannibalistic zombies, or ‘hungries’ who have overrun the country. Somehow, Melanie has retained not only sentience but also a startling intellect, despite the infection, and this makes her immensely valuable to what little remains of the government.

This naturally raises all sorts of interesting questions and moral dilemmas, all of which are played out through the interactions of the the small band of characters forced together by an incident that occurs relatively early on in the story.

At the heart of the novel there is the intense and deeply touching bond between Melanie and her teacher, Miss Justineau, whose kindness and humanity stands out to such a degree that Melanie – with no other parental figure in her life – develops an unshakeable, charmingly uncomplicated love and admiration. But there’s also Sergeant Parks, an aggressive man hardened to the point of cruelty by horrific experiences and the immense burden of responsibility, and Caroline Caldwell, the research scientist whose one great goal is to find out exactly what’s going on in Melanie’s infected brain. Finally, there’s Private Gallagher, who doesn’t even remember life before ‘breakdown’, and is barely more than a boy himself.

I’ve seen others suggest that this ‘isn’t really a horror novel'. I would disagree; I think it absolutely is. Post-Breakdown Britain has all the hallmarks of a horror fiction post-apocalyptic dystopia, the primary plot is one of survival and there is plenty of high-octane zombie action; there are also many scenes which are extremely grisly. It’s more accurate to say that it isn’t only a horror novel, and the tenderness within it is beautifully well-executed and appealing.

The characters themselves are mostly very well-drawn, and develop convincingly, even when they take an unexpected turn - my favourite character by the end of the book was not the person I thought it would be at the start, and almost felt like an unexpected bonus bestowed upon us by the author.

The only character I felt was a little two-dimensional was Dr Caldwell, who did tip over, Frankenstein-style, into the stereotype of the scientist driven mad by a desire for discovery and greatness. However, the moral question raised by her story arc is a complex one, and her presence in the novel would be valuable even for this alone. Miss Justineau is a delight, but despite Melanie’s hero-worship of her, remains fallible and realistic throughout. Melanie herself, who as a precocious ten-year-old could easily have been irritating company, has a determination and loyalty about her that is charming and uncomplicated. At the same time, despite her love of Miss Justineau becoming her driving force for most of the novel, Melanie also has a pragmatic rationalism that counterpoints her fundamentally sweet nature.

This is a book about a civilisation in its gruesome death throes, and in that regard, it does have a bleakness about it and there are times when the horror seems as if it will become relentless. There is also, however, a thread of hope and redemption that runs throughout the story, and an overall it’s a far more optimistic read than you’d expect, given the subject matter. It is, to use a cliché, an emotional rollercoaster, with moments of gentle melancholy, heart-pounding horror, intense sadness and humour borne of both darkness and innocence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good intro into Scifi, 15 Jun. 2015
By 
Mrs. S. Payne (UK) - See all my reviews
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I enjoy sci-fi and apocalyptic, end of day / survival horror stories, so once I spotted this one in an airport book shop, I fully expected to enjoy it. It’s hard to talk about this book in too much detail without spoiling it, so I will be quite vague with my review.

The story is set in an imagined dystopia, where huge population loss due to a zombie-creating virus has left Britain with only a few remaining human survivors. The survivors live in military bases, with heavy security and on one of these bases we meet our main character, ten-year-old Melanie. Melanie spends most of her time in a cell and the rest in a classroom where she soaks up information, from a variety of teachers. Melanie especially enjoys Miss Justineau's classes and stories of Greek mythology.

We learn very quickly that Melanie and her fellow pupils are treated like dangerous animals, shackled to their seats, moved by heavily-armed army officers and hosed down with disinfectant every Sunday. To Melanie, this appears normal and is all that she can remember. We (as readers) are given an insight into the officers and teachers days and we quickly learn more about the situation than Melanie knows. We learn that Melanie and her classmates are not like other children – but neither are they like the infected, cannibalistic zombies, or ‘hungries’ who have overrun the rest of the country. Somehow, Melanie has retained her human brain function. Despite being ‘infected’, Melanie has a startling intellect and this makes her immensely valuable to what little remains of the human race.

A huge amount of the story is told to us by Melanie and we jump between characters as the story progresses. At the heart of the book, is a very touching story of two people that share a bond, although they are very different and cannot spend time together naturally. Although, we have this soft storyline filled with emotion, this is still very much a horror fiction post-apocalyptic dystopia story, the primary plot is one of survival and there is plenty of zombie action and many quite grisly scenes. I would agree with another reviewer on here that said “it’s more accurate to say that it isn’t only a horror novel, and the tenderness within it is beautifully well-executed and appealing.”

If this type of genre is not normally your thing, I think that you would still enjoy it. The different characters are interesting and engaging and the writing is very easy to follow. It’s a quick read that would be a great introduction to sci-fi for any beginner. I look forward to more work from M. R. Carey.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 18 May 2015
By 
hross42877 (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Thank you to Little Brown for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review

Every so often I read a book that totally floors me, like wow WTF did that come from?, The Girl with all the Gifts is one of those books.

It had been on my TBR pile for a while but now it's not and in a way that makes me sad as I wish I could read the story again for the first time but also I am exceptionally happy as this is one hell of a story, I suppose I better stop gushing and start explaining why this is getting 5 stars.

Now the one thing I did not realise about this book before I read it was its dystopian setting, I missed that one! The dystopian-ness (can this be a word?!!!) sneaks up on you, when the book kicks off it isn't apparent straight away when/where the setting is but it soon becomes obvious that something is a little off.

Melanie lives in a world where every day is the same, she goes to school, she learns with her class mates. Normal, right? Well not quite, she travels to school not by bus but under armed guard strapped down in a wheel chair from her cell. This is not a normal school and Melanie is not a normal little girl.

She is exceptionally clever and loves to learn, she watches and takes in everything.and everyone. She especially loves the time spent with her favourite teacher Miss Justineau. She is the nicest and most playful of the all the teachers and Melanie feels protective towards her, the feeling is mutual.

Melanie notices that her class mates disappear from time to time, where do they go and why do they never come back? Does the creepy Dr Caldwell know anything about it? What is wrong with Melaine and her classmates, why are they kept under lock and key, why do soldiers watch their every move?

Well lets expand this world further, well there is not much world left for a start, what's left is the compound in which Melanie and her friends are held, with a small amount of soldiers and civilians, it is an island in a sea of horror. The population has been attacked by a virus which has turned most of them in to rampant zombie-esque creatures but some of them are different, some still have their full faculties despite the fact they crave flesh. These exceptions appears normal, they could be anyone, they could even be a little girl.

The story does not stay within the confines of the compound, s*** does hit the fan and Melanie, Miss Justineau, the horrible Sergeant Parks and Dr Caldwell form an unlikely team as they journey away from danger in to extreme peril.

I can't really tell you any more about this story because it'll get spoilt for you, but what can I tell you? It is just incredible, our motley crew struggle on their way keeping out of the way of the "hungries" who would have them for their next meal, staying out of the road of the junkers who sound like something straight out of Mad Max and also keeping out of the way of each other, tensions are running high, their lives are at stake, can they find a safe haven?

The Girl with all the Gifts is simply immense, I read the last hundred or so pages last night, I was glued, it pulls at your heart strings, prepare to have your emotions put through the ringer. Also prepare to be scared!

I love dystopia but this is nothing like I have ever read before, I feel a little bereft after finishing it but in the words of Dr Seuss "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened". Read it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and haunting, 26 April 2015
By 
Ignite (East Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This dark, post-apocalyptic tale is a stunning thriller which kept me on edge all the way through. We start with the point of view of Melanie, a young girl kept in a stark and inhuman bunker with class mates and a selection of teachers. Slowly, we realise why. They are under military control and only one person who comes into contact with these children, the teacher, Miss Justineau, retains any vestige of humanity. Can we blame them? We don’t yet know what’s happening ‘out there’. A fungus has infected humanity and the scientists are desperate to find a cure. Do these children carry an immunity and if so, how can it best be turned into a cure?

I was absolutely gripped by this story and by what it tells us of human nature and its response to adversity. The little girl was a haunting figure and all the way through I wanted her to be safe. I cared about her and her survival. I also felt for her teacher, fighting against immense odds to look after her charge. Other characters pulled me or repelled me, but sometimes I changed my mind about them as their stories unfolded. The end was sublime. Horrific in some ways but ultimately hopeful. It’s a haunting story and I shall not forget it in a hurry. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Writer with all the gifts, 22 Jan. 2015
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My cousin texted me about this book, said everyone was talking about it, and had I heard of it? To be honest, I've spent the last year completely wrapped up in myself, so most popular culture - books, films, TV; anything that I'm not in, basically - had totally passed me by. But I didn't want to admit that. So I lied and said I'd just ordered it. Then I just ordered it.

That Narcissistic level of self-absorption is the PERFECT way for anyone to embark on this story. When you have NO IDEA what it's about (because you only really look at Sunday supplements to check your fringe in the shiny paper), you are the perfect audience for its opening twist. As it didn't involve me, I had no idea what kind of story it was at all. Which meant I was completely surprised, enchanted and hooked by page 1.

By page 455, thoughts of myself - which had begun popping up intermittently in the slightly boring Sciencey paragraphs, but could be quashed by an interestingly violent bit - were almost overwhelming, but that's ok because it was the very last page.

I loved it!
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22 of 26 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 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Was Not as Expected, 4 Jan. 2015
From reading the blurb I was really interested in this book. However, the 'twist' that occurred early on in the novel didn't even feel like anything shocking and I was quite disappointed in the genre it was turning out to be. Don't get me wrong, I love this genre and I have watched the many movies and tv shows, but I started to get the feeling it would be the same story of survival, which bored me. It does have one original element to it, the children, but this I don't feel this makes 'The Girl With All The Gifts' "thrilling" or "compelling and intense" as the reviews on the back tell you.
From a third of the way through I was counting down the pages until the end, and not because I wanted to know what was going to happen but because I don't like to leave a book half read. That, and I did have some hope the book would give me something that was "haunting, heartbreaking" as vogue suggested. I didn't connect with any of the characters, including the main character, Melanie. In fact most of the characters angered me, most of all Dr Caldwell and Miss Justineau due to their ignorance. Due to being unable to sympathise for any of the characters the ending fell flat and I was just happy it was finished.
Unfortunately, this book has jumped on the post-apocalypse bandwagon trying to offer something new but has fallen short. I think the main problem, for me anyway, was the characters and had some of them been more likeable I think I would have enjoyed the story much more.
Bottom line, I would not recommend this book unless you really like the post-apocalyptic genre.
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