Book Reviews

Book Review: The Girl With All the Gifts

The Girl With All the GiftsTL;DR:

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (Sorry for the lack of a link to a proper author page, he either doesn’t have one or it’s very nicely hidden) is what I’d consider to be an overwhelmingly mediocre zombie novel. I don’t consider it to be mediocre because the entire book is run-of-the-mill, but because the book has some great high points that are out numbered by its low points. Most of the characters were flat and only had one mode, the pacing was off, and the writing itself was weak. The book does have some great qualities though. Melanie is a well written, engaging character, and the author has an interesting twist on the cause of the zombie outbreak. Even with the positive aspects of The Girl with All the Gifts, I’m going to tear a page out of my girlfriend’s book here and say that unless you’re a big fan of the zombie genre, this one is to be read with caution.

 

The Good:

  1. The book has a very interesting and realistic take on one of the potential ways a zombie apocalypse could happen.
  2. The ending of the book was an unexpected twist filled with poetic justice. It seemed a little farfetched to me, but ultimately I enjoyed it.
  3. While I found most of the characters to be obnoxiously flat, the main character of the book, Melanie, was wonderful and exciting to read about. I consider following her on her journey of discovery to be the highlight of the book.

The Bad:

  1. – The author frequently changes tenses in the book with little rhyme or reason. These changes were jarring and unpleasant.
  2. The characters in the book show next to nothing, and tell you next to everything. Caroline Caldwell was nervous. Helen Justineau felt anger well up inside her. Sergeant Parks did not like the position they were in. It felt a good deal like the author had a difficult time leaving behind the “Melanie speak” mentality that he developed and uses to great effect on her character.
  3. Every time something occurs in the book, you are told how every related character feels about the situation. This quickly becomes overwhelming and boring at the same time.
  4. The author has several pet writing techniques that he employs very frequently. Here’s one example: “The answer came from the sky, clear as fresh rain. Only it wasn’t, it was gray and ugly.” You’ll find many examples of this throughout the book. I personally hate it when I see someone using the same trick over and over and over. (As a side note, M.R. Carey has written for multiple comic books and I believe this specific trick is a result of that.)
  5. The pacing of the book is weak in my opinion. There were significant stretches of the story that were boring and felt like they could have been significantly pared down. Conversely, there were stretches that were interesting and held my attention hostage; unfortunately, these parts were fewer and farther between.

The Meh:

  1. The writing in the book is very British. Not a big problem for everyone, but a significant one for me. I don’t enjoy British prose very much; I regularly find it to be dry and awkward. As a result, my immersion gets frequently broken as I need to read certain phrases over again in order to fully understand them.
  2. This book has one of the worst titles I’ve ever encountered.

Synopsis

Her life in the base is all she can remember, and the days that Miss Justineau comes to teach are the only things she really enjoys. Dr. Caldwell calls her the little genius. The sargent keeps his gun on  her every time he’s in the room with her. Melanie is different and no one is quite sure why. Sure Dr. Caldwell has theories, but she doesn’t really know. Then one day her world shatters and expands to a size she previously didn’t think possible. On this day, Melanie begins a journey of discovery that will shake the foundations of her psyche and change the entire world.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Girl With All the Gifts

  1. I’ve had this one on my to-read list for ages. I really liked the start of it – I checked the free sample on Amazon – and I reckon the “Melanie speak” was a big part of that in retrospect. From your review, it sounds like she isn’t the only POV character; is that right?

    • Correct, the POV switches between five characters total, and in my opinion, Melanie is the only one worth following (worth may not be the right word because following her was quite enjoyable). Only two of the other four show any growth or depth, and what they do show is a very small amount.

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