Review: The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey

The Girl with all the Gifts
MR Carey

Orbit
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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NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING

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.

SPOILERS ON THE BASIC NATURE OF THE BOOK AHEAD

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Review: Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson

Ultraviolet
RJ Anderson

Orchard
Released June 2, 2011
303 pages
YA / Science Fiction-ish

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Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. 

This is not her story. 

Unless you count the part where I killed her. 

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori—the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?

It’s been a month since I read this book and it’s still floating around in my head. I didn’t really know what to expect with Ultraviolet, but it wasn’t this. And once I felt like I knew where things were going, what the rules of the universe were, and had firm ground to understand the plot, Anderson flipped the floor out from under me and I could not put the book down. I mean, universe flipped, characters got into unforeseen situations and yet it all made sense. It was incredible.

Most of the story takes place in a mental hospital, a story telling element that I have a strange attraction to, so I bought in. It focuses on Alison, who has synesthesia, meaning her senses don’t exactly work correctly. She tastes colors and hears emotions and it’s all quite fascinating. Had the book just been about Alison’s synesthesia and her coming to terms and learning how to deal with it, I would have been perfectly happy though the book probably wouldn’t have had the “WTF” wow factor. I don’t know how much research Anderson made into the subject, but it feels realistic and the language she uses describes Alison without causing any judgment that she’s “crazy”. She’s just different.

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Review: Ashes by Ilsa J Bick

Ashes
Ilsa J. Bick

Egmont USA
480 pages
YA / Post-Apocalyptic / Zombies / AWESOME

Purchase it from Amazon here

The last line of this book left me flailing and cursing like a sailor.  Most people would think this was a sign of a bad book, but in fact, it is quite the opposite.  It means this is a really awesome book that is the beginning of a trilogy and NO ONE TOLD ME IT WAS A TRILOGY.  I was expecting a nice ending – okay, maybe not nice considering the subject matter, but at least an ending and then it takes another twist and things get creepier yet again and the last lines leave me screaming curse words in an empty house.  Thankfully Fernando was not yet home and therefore did not get to see my madness.

The basic plot, at least in the beginning, follows a girl, Alex, as she goes on an epic camping trip to scatter her parents’ ashes across Lake Superior.  Since her parents died two years earlier, she has been unsuccessfully fighting an epic brain tumor that has stolen her sense of smell and most of her memories.  During this camping trip, a massive EMP gets set off and the entire world falls apart.  And now there are zombies.  And Alex has not only regained her sense of smell, but now has super smell.  Think of it as an early warning detection system for the previously mentioned zombies and a way to know what people are really feeling.

Bick manages to develop characters very quickly, despite often giving them a bank vault of secrets that they aren’t sharing.  Alex, defeated by her prognosis and the amount of experimental treatments she’s gone through, is ready to die and yet she’s still an incredibly strong, smart and competent protagonist.  Yes, she gets into scraps, but it’s not usually her fault.  I wish the other YA books I’ve been reading lately had female protagonists even just half as awesome as Alex.

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