Review: The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey

The Girl with all the Gifts
MR Carey

Released June 19, 2014
I received an eARC from the publisher.
460 pages
Science Fiction (anything more would be kind of spoilerish)

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Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.

It’s not often that I give Fernando a play-by-play of a book I’m reading. Normally I don’t think he would have any interest in my YA female-led fantasy and dystopian books, so I only tell him what my books are about if he asks. But this book… this book! I couldn’t not tell him about it, giving him a near blow-by-blow play of the plot (he’s not a spoilerphobe like me and didn’t intend to read it) as I made my way through The Girl with All the Gifts. This book is fascinating.

I didn’t know much about the book before I started reading it. I honestly thought the gifts in question would be more along the X-Men sort, so as I picked up the hints of Melanie’s true nature and the world she inhabits, I started getting this stupid giddy smile on my face. Carey surprised me from beginning to end, never going the route I thought he would. Plus Melanie is a fascinating character, fully formed and three dimensional despite being a small child. Her mother-figure in the form of one of her teachers is equally as complex and complicated though in a totally different way.


It’s difficult to discuss this book without stating what I found to be surprising yet others seemed to have known going into to reading The Girl with All the Gifts. Melanie is a zombie – a cognizant zombie with the ability to think and feel, but she still likes chomping on human flesh. She’s stuck in a concrete cell underground in a military base, though she doesn’t realize it because it’s the only home she’s ever known. She, along with a handful of other children, are being studied by scientists to determine why these children are still maintaining some of their humanity while still being zombies, so teachers are brought in to test their learning abilities.

Each morning soldiers hold Melanie and her friends at gun point as they strap them into wheelchairs and wheel them into their classroom. At the end of the day, they’re wheeled back to their cells and locked in. It’s a predictable life that quickly gets torn apart as outside forces invade the military base. Way before you reach the midway point of the book, the plot gets turned on its head and the story you thought you were going to get becomes something completely different.

Carey has written a zombie book that isn’t a zombie book. This is a totally unique take on those mindless brain eaters, one that I would have never expected. This is zombies, but with a vague optimism even when the world seems to have fallen apart. The fact that Melanie is a sort of half-zombie child makes her a symbol of a potential future where the human race isn’t extinct.

This is great world-building mixed with intriguing and fascinating character development all embedded within an emotional storyline that I had a hard time getting out of my head until much later. Carey’s pacing gives you a few much needed small breaks between the heart-pounding thriller sections, but once The Girl with All the Gifts gets started, it doesn’t stop until it comes to its final fascinating yet heartbreaking conclusion. This is a book with depth that’s way more than your usual chase sequences and brain eating. Yes, there is a little bit of that, but Carey adds emotional depth that made my heart hurt and proposed ethical issues that stuck in my mind.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a tense, emotional journey in a broken world seen through the eyes of Melanie, an innocent unknowingly starring in a horror show. This is a fantastic zombie novel that doesn’t feel like a zombie novel. Carey has weaved a story so intricate that re-reads will inevitably reveal new layers to his characters. This is science fiction as it should be – immersive, engaging and surprising from beginning to end.


I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. Opinions are my own. This book is AWESOME!