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32 of 33 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 7 months ago by Laura T

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10 of 12 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 7 months ago by DebB


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars one of the most gripping and disturbing books I have ever read, 26 May 2014
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Total immersion and completely unforgettable. Stayed with me for several days with he most visceral images revisiting my consciousness. I had to keep reminding myself it wasn't real!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent exploration of Zombie futures, 16 Mar 2014
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I was recommended this by another author (so that's a good recommendation) and I'm not disappointed. At first it takes a bit of working out ... why are the children treated this way? - then it quickly begins to make all sorts of horrible sense.
Characters that grab you with their insights and obsessions; a plot which - though ultimately predictable - still makes room for intrigue; parallels with "normal" and unusual zombie lore (but enough new ideas to keep you guessing) ...
At the end, I knew there *was* a future for zombies ... and the future felt right.
Read this and hope.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different take, magically written, 9 Mar 2014
By 
Andrew R Kent (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Although it might seem at first to be a standard zombie story, the reality is slowly drip-fed, keeping the interest levels high until the surprising end. Add to that a superb variety of voices and viewpoints and you have a hugely entertaining and thought-provoking take on an over-familar theme.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not like any other zombie book, 6 Mar 2014
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From start to finish a gripping and exciting read. Could not put it down and finished it in 24 hours .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly strong, 3 Mar 2014
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An unexpectedly strong book from M R Carey (aka Mike Carey although you'd be hard pressed to tell, as this is a very different novel from his Felix Castor series.) It starts with a strange but sympathetic little girl imprisoned in a half-school, half-prison, then morphs into something like a zombie apocalypse reimagined by John Wyndham. Although the middle section is a tad too familiar, the slant is fresh and the conflicted girl Melanie is a compelling central character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genre defying, 2 Mar 2014
I was a fan of this author before, but his graphic novels and urban fantasy did not prepare me for this genre defying book. This is a wonderful novel, both beautiful and horrible. It is about a child but not for children (although young adults will love it). Set in a post apocalyptic world, it follows a very special little girl through a coming of age story that you have never heard before, and leaves you pondering about the definition of monster and the meaning of humanity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cut above the rest, 1 Mar 2014
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A beautifully written story with a clever twist on a well explored premise - what if you're fighting for survival in a world gone to pot? What sets it apart from the rest are the wonderfully conceived characters. Carey lets us into the minds of all of them, laying bare their feelings and motives, but it's done so deftly it doesn't get in the way of the plot and the constant sense of menace and threat that keeps you reading, desperate to find out what happens to them in the end. The 'girl' of the title is one of the best character treatments in a genre novel that I have ever read and through her eyes the reader sees the world anew.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Girl With All The Gifts, 16 Feb 2014
By 
Jenny, Wondrous Reads (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The Girl With All The Gifts is an excellent book, but one that is very hard to review without giving spoilers away. I've left writing this review for almost two weeks, mainly because I think I just needed to process it and everything that it offered. There's a lot going on, a lot to take in, and a lot to mourn. It's terrifying in the sense that maybe this could actually happen one day, and we could all find ourselves in a similar situation. Who knows what future path the human race will take?

Before I go any further, I need to somehow talk about what this book's about. It's a dystopian, post-apocalyptic thriller with a twist. At some unspecified time in the future, Earth's population has significantly decreased. There aren't many survivors (think The Walking Dead levels of decimation) and those that are left are mostly children being kept at a military base. Of the adults that remain there, some are teachers and scientists while some are like wardens, charged with keeping the children safely encaged when they're not needed in the classroom. Melanie is one of these children, a bright, endearing ten-year-old with a high IQ, who takes a shine to her teacher Miss Justineau. Melanie, along with the other kids, is literally kept in chains and doesn't know why. Neither does the reader, but they soon will.

This book is extremely tense, horrific and ridiculously compelling. I ended up reading it all in one sitting, which took me a while. It's the kind of book that takes hold of you and doesn't let go until every twist has been turned, every secret revealed and every horror experienced. It's not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination - it's actually quite horrifying when you get into the heart of it - but it's all brilliant. I know I'm being deliberately vague here, but it's the kind of book that will be completely and utterly spoiled if you know everything going on. The beauty of it is reading further and watching everything fit into place.

It's a very character-driven novel, with a lot of exploration focusing on Melanie, Miss Justineau and scientist Caroline Caldwell. Miss Justineau is fantastic from start to finish; she's like a mother figure to Melanie and is possibly the only person working at the military base who owns a conscience. She's quiet but strong, hiding an inner strength that breaks out when it's most needed. Caldwell is the definition of a villain, but again this is ambiguous throughout the novel. To her she's just a scientist trying to make a breakthrough and possibly save humanity, but to Miss Justineau she's a stone cold killer. I went through phases of liking and understanding Caldwell and then absolutely despising her and what she stands for. Author M.R. Carey has a knack for doing that - he takes a stereotype and spins it around until their intended direction is no longer clear. It raises questions of good and evil and what we, as a society, deem acceptable, while also creating a character with much more depth than meets the eye. Melanie is also fascinating, though in a different way. She's the innocent all this, forced to live in shackles and live a regimented life full of rules and regulations, while all she wants to do is learn and make Miss Justineau proud. Melanie is a complicated character who really comes into her own later in the novel and, as you've probably guessed, has a huge part to play in proceedings. She may seem all innocent and fragile, but underneath a weak exterior is something just waiting to be unleashed. And when it is, it becomes clear that she's the one worth fighting for.

The whole setting of this book makes for an interesting discussion by itself. We never find out the state of the whole world and whether it's the same everywhere. There are a lot of questions left unanswered, but really the story is about this one little place and the state of their existence. It's a compact, complicated exploration of life and human beings after everything they know has been irrevocably changed, and always asks the question of what you'd do in this situation. Would you try and help like Miss Justineau or, like Caldwell, would you work tirelessly to figure out the secrets of this new Earth? I honestly don't know which category I'd fall into, which for me is the beauty of this book. For me there are no true villains, just people taking a different approach to a devastating turn of events.

The Girl With All The Gifts is one of those books that you just have to read for yourself. No cryptic synopsis can do it justice, just as no vague comparisons can truly tell you what it's really about. I've been thinking about this book for almost two solid weeks, weighing up my thoughts and deciding what to say to make other people want to read it. All I can come up with is that it's unlike anything I've read before (which could be because I don't often dip into adult literature), full of action, shocking revelations and understated moments centred around a likeable cast of characters. It's slightly too long and does get away with itself every now and then, but it comes right back and continues to grip you until the very last page. And that's really all I can ask for from a book.

4.5/5
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A post-apocalyptic novel - with feeling!, 8 Feb 2014
By 
S. Kadhim "Lulu" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This was a very difficult review to write. I have a lot of feelings, that I haven’t yet untangled. But I want to let out some of this emotion in the form of this review. I have a lot to say, but I can’t say too much – the details of this book have been so wrapped up by the publishers that it would feel a shame to spoil anymore than they would like. I will say that I was looking forward to this book from the moment it was announced, spurred on by my love of Mike Carey’s Lucifer graphic novels. And now, this looks to be one of my favourite for the year – already!

Melanie and the children are not like other children. They stay in their rooms when not in class, which is led by one of four different teachers. There, they are taught the geography of England and the world – both things they have never seen. In fact, they have never seen anything but their cells, and their classroom. They know where freedom, whatever that is, lies – at the end of the corridor, behind a steel door. But when children are wheeled out of there, they never seem to come back…

Oh, and that’s the other thing. Whenever the children are taken to class, or to shower and eat (a once a week event), they are strapped into wheelchairs (despite the fact they can walk just fine), which neck straps and all. This is all done by a soldier, while two others watch on, guns pointed at the children’s heads.

Melanie’s world is not the world as we know it.

Nor is it the world as she knows it, come to think of it. She has never seen sky, and, until the day Miss Justineau forgets herself and strokes the little girl’s hair, has never felt human contact before. Even with her genius level IQ, she just doesn’t understand – from the big questions, like why they can’t go outside, to why their drunken teacher tells them the population density of Birmingham doesn’t matter, because the population of Birmingham is really 0. But…that’s not what they should be being taught.

This is a twisting book. It runs circles, and then double backs on you. It’s a quiet book, for sure, especially given its subject matter, but it’s got a lot of weight in it.

Spoilers in the following paragraph – not huge ones, just enough if you wanted to go into this book blindly. You can skip the next paragraph, and read ahead instead, if you don’t want any info.

But this is a (this is the naughty word) zombie novel at its most basic level. What I liked was the fact it isn’t a shooting and bloody book. The zombies, as physical beings, are not the matter here – mostly their effect on a mental level is what matters. Because there are mysteries here – existential, as well as medical. While Dr Caldwell, the last remaining scientist with a slight chance, who only has this facility that the children are on, is hellbent on finding the cure, she is inadequately equipped. And there are many more problems than that later in the book.

Back to spoiler free waters, the book is also about the care and protection of a young child. It is about a troubling and complicated friendship between Miss Justineau, who is trying to absolve herself from former sins, and Melanie, who puts them all in danger, but is full of platonic infatuation for her caring teacher – the only one to ever show her affection.

Then there’s Parks, a soldier at his core, who finds himself faced with difficult decisions and difficult decisions. He starts off a bastard that you slowly come to care for. And Gallagher, who is under Park’s command, a troubled young man who has known of the discipline and bravery for soldier work, but will do anything to escape his troubled life at home.

This is not just a post-apocalyptic novel. This is a post-apocalyptic novel with feeling – that will twist you up as you see the bad things coming for the characters you don’t want hurt, and will let you sigh with relief when they struggle out of tight corners. We begin in a static that changes rather quickly, and the novel you thought you’d started turns out to be a totally different one. I can’t help but be vague to stop myself from spoiling any surprises.

But the ending is what really makes this book. It is as surprising as it is inevitable. But again, I won’t say much more.

I will admit that the prose style left my feeling slightly detached from the drama, but I still felt something. I’m just nitpicking now, to try and find a negative, but I am definitely emotional compromised by this book. It’s wonderful, and one of the best I’ve read in the post-apocalyptic genre, because it sneaks up on you and throws things at you that you never thought you’d see.

I do love Mike Carey. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligently written zombie action, 5 Feb 2014
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Not a usual genre for me, the Zombie horror. If it were, possibly I'd have given it five stars.
I found the first part of the book absolutely rivetting, the sort of book that made me think "I wish I had written that", but thought that the middle sagged a bit, though it still moved at a cracking pace. I think perhaps it was because though an excellent bit of "road movie" writing it did not have the tense originality of the first part.
The ending was also very good; a lot of thought had gone into making the reasons for the zombification credible, rooted in the real world.
The book is fast paced and well written. the main protagonists engage ones sympathies very well and develop as the story gallops on, not the usual two dimensional characters that I expected from the genre. there is a good supporting cast who are also quite complex in their motivations.
If you are a zombie fan, buy it. If not, at least consider it
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