the girl with all the gifts review

The Girl with All the Gifts: A Zombie Story with Heart

Happy October 3rd! This is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE month of the year, because duh, Halloween. So just like last year, I’m doing a bookish Halloween bonanza, and my first horror book review of the month is The Girl with All the Gifts. I was itching for a zombie read a few months ago, and this one came highly recommended by quite a number of people. I also inadvertently found out this has been made into a movie (trailer here), which I’ll now have to see!

The Girl with All the Gifts: A Zombie Story with HeartThe Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Published by Orbit on June 19th 2014
Genres: Horror
Pages: 460
Narrator: Finty Williams
Length: 13 hrs and 4 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy from The Book Depository

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 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 loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.

a precocious child in rotting London surrounded by a throng of zombies

What made this better than a typical Zombie story:

1. I feel like your typical story has a very clearly defined hero and villain. In this book, everyone plays a little bit of both. Melanie, our main character, is a zombie that is cognitively more advanced than her counterparts, but even she isn’t doesn’t fit the hero character perfectly. Dr. Caldwell, the primary villain, also causes some confusion, as she does want to help humanity after all. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: a good book causes conflicted feelings! 

2. The mystery of Melanie is well-explained! You’re reading the book, and you definitely wonder why Melanie is so much more precocious. Why are there children who can do and comprehend so much more than the other “zombies”? Well that gets answered, and it is quite satisfying. View Spoiler »

3. This is a zombie story, but it’s also very much a story about people and how emotionally complicated we can be! You’re going to feel a lot of feelings reading this novel. Sympathy for the villains, sadness for the infected, and confusion for why you even care about some of these characters!

4. This is also an infectious disease story. Normally, I don’t like when books get too detailed describing the cause of the “zombification,” but this author did a good job with it. It was actually plausible, and I wasn’t sitting there rolling my eyes over and over again at the improbability of it all.

Why wasn’t this one perfect for me?

1. It wasn’t scary enough. If I’m reading horror, I want to be TERRIFIED. I wasn’t with this book, but that’s okay! I still really liked it.

I would recommend this one for anyone who enjoys zombies stories, infectious disease stories, and/or horror. It also would be a good starter-book for anyone looking to get into the genre!

Do you enjoy zombie stories? What’s one of your favorites (movie OR book)?

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  1. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this one, and I think I might want to read it. What you said about the characters causing conflicting feelings definitely has me interested! I don’t read zombie books to be scared, I prefer the ones that are about the characters being pushed to their limits, the more thought-provoking ones, so this sounds like it could be a good one for me!
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