Title: The Girl With All the Gifts
Author: M. R. Carey
Narrator: Finty Williams
Audiobook Length: 13 hours, 4 minutes
Origins: Mine. All mine.
Release Date: 10 June 2014
“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 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.”
Thoughts on the Novel: The Girl With All the Gifts is one of those novels where the less you know about it going into it, the better your enjoyment of the story will be. It is not that there are shocking twists or jaw-dropping reveals. It is just that half the fun of the novel is watching Melanie’s dawning understanding of her true origins and the ramifications of that knowledge. The other half is seeing this strange world she occupies through her innocent eyes. Readers will know the truth well before Melanie figures it out, which makes her understanding of her experiences that much more horrifying.
The synopsis states this is a thriller. I would market it as a horror story. I always think of horror as having an element of science fiction or fantasy to it, while thrillers, to me, are more grounded in reality. Then there is the gore factor, of which there is quite a bit throughout the novel. The world in which Melanie lives is not for the faint of heart or easily disturbed, and Mr. Carey does not hold back from showing us the new realities mankind now faces. All of this makes for an intense novel that may keep certain types of readers up at night given the vividness of the descriptions and intense suspense.
Melanie is such a sweetheart, eager to please and desperate for love, and yet calmly accepting of her fate from the moment we first see her. There are not many children of any age who would submit to being bound by hands, feet, and neck each and every day without fuss, and this opening scene is the first time readers will wonder why that is. There are many “why” moments within the story, and each answer will challenge your sympathies as well as your pity. These same moments also provide a bleak look at mankind’s ability to avoid collapse and chaos.
The Girl With All the Gifts is a fantastic story that will keep you on the edge of your seat all while playing with your emotions. Your sympathy for and self-identification with Melanie adds another layer of horror and a crucial bit of tension as she decides her fate. The story itself is equally intense and sobering as certain aspects of it show not only how much people change in a crisis but also how some things will never change even at what is seemingly the end of the world. In spite of or because of that though, it is a novel I wholeheartedly recommend for the strong emotional content, creative plot, and fascinating glimpse into the demise of mankind.
Thoughts on the Audiobook: Finty Williams does an excellent job of bringing this creepy story to life. Her performance of each of the characters adds depth to their development and provides readers the opportunity to really understand them as people. Her performance as Melanie is particularly heartbreaking. Her voice is pleasant and well-suited for the story. Similarly, her pacing is equally great, allowing time for significant pauses when necessary without serious lag. Overall, it is a fantastic story, and Ms. Williams’ characterizations serve to make it that much better.