TITLE: The Girl With All The Gifts
AUTHOR: M.R. Carey
GENRE: Adult, Horror, Thriller, Dystopian
RATING: 5/5 Stars
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her "our little genius."
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant 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 loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
What I Liked:
- Where to begin? Well I think the setting and book's focus was the most interesting part, so I'll start there. Set during a 'zombie' apocalypse (they're called 'hungries' in the book), Carey really gave very careful thought as to exactly what caused the fungal infection that overpowered humanity to such a degree, and how the world would function afterwards (especially for the survivors). I thought that the hungries themselves were pretty terrifying too in their behaviour and how they came about. But of course, the book wasn't really about them, and that's what I really loved about it. It's focus was morality and ethics when it comes to ensuring the survival of the human race, and what really makes us 'human'.
- The small cast in this book really made it special because every POV was interesting. I loved Melanie, the main character, whose innocence was matched only by her observational skills and it was wonderful to watch her develop, if a little sad. Miss Justineau was a great heroine to root for also, though what was really interesting about the way that Carey styled the story is that the obvious villains and heroes blurred as the plot proceeded. While reading, I began to understand the motivations of characters who had seemed cold and heartless previously, and understood why those characters didn't get along with people like Miss Justineau.
- Carey's writing was just glorious. Her style just really resonated with me as a reader, and there were so many quotable passages that I re-read a few times smiling before moving on. In terms of the plot, it was easy to follow and never even got slightly boring for me. Carey paced herself really nicely, making sure that something was always happening and keeping the thrills coming thick and fast, without overwhelming me. While reading, I was hooked, and when I wasn't reading I was desperate to get back to it!
What I Disliked:
- I think the biggest problem with this book, for me, was the ending. It wasn't really a bad one, but it was very ambiguous and left me with a lot of questions (as well as a slightly broken heart). I'm not a fan of endings that are vague and mysterious, I prefer things to be wrapped up well and not to be left wondering. It wasn't really a happy ending either (I feel like only one of the characters was really very happy with it) so I wish it had been different and I could have left the book feeling happier with the result.
This book was a real treat to encounter, and I'm relieved I got round to it at last! I adored reading it from start to finish and could list so many great qualities that it has. Even though the ended disappointed me in some ways, I can see why coming up with a clearer or happier ending could be tough considering the story's build-up. I didn't like it, but I didn't hate it. It's down to personal preference rather than any lack of skill and while reading I was distinctly reminded of Emily St. John Mandel's 'Station Eleven', another post-apocalyptic book that I adored and took a unique stance on a setting that in today's book market feels a little overdone. I'll definitely be checking out more of Carey's work in the future!
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