The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Posted August 29, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

The Girl With All the Gifts

The Girl With All the Gifts

by M.R. Carey

Series: The Girl With All the Gifts #1
Publisher: Orbit Books on January 14, 2014
Genre: Dystopia, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller
Target Age Group: Adult
Rating: ★★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads

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.


For some reason, I thought The Girl With All The Gifts was going to be a superpowers book?  I think the title threw me off.  No, as it turns out, this is very much a zombie book.  I have some mixed feelings about it not because of its quality, but because of my own interest, but it’s been a while since I read a zombie book, so in that way, The Girl With All The Gifts was a nice change of pace!

First of all, I thought it was really creatively done.  Obviously the idea of trying to corral and study the infected is not a new thing, but the source of zombification was a new one in my experience.  With the success of The Walking Dead, I feel like it’s rarer and rarer to see a new, creative take on a zombie story, so the “science” Carey threw behind the story was really interesting to me.  And I liked that it continued to play a part in the book. The deeper I got into The Girl With All The Gifts, the more vivid the imagery became and Carey’s choice in infection method plaid a huge part in this creatively shaped dystopian wonderland.

This book spends a decent time on the road, which is always challenging as the pace seems to diminish with lack of action.  Carey did a good job of moving quickly from one destination to the next to keep the movement steady from that respect, but I personally felt that the deeper I got into the novel, the more it dragged.  This is where some of my mixed feelings come from – I felt like we kept getting stuck in these new locations and there wasn’t much really happening.  Carey may have set me up for disappointment by having most of his heavy action early in the book – it set a precedent for more of the same, and that never really came.

At best, the characters felt a bit tropey for the genre – Dr. Caldwell, in particular, wore her “made scientist” guise with great comfort.  Along with her, you’ve got the misunderstood infected, the caring fool, the lax military man and the strict one.  Because the characters fit so well into the genre, that didn’t leave a lot of room for character or plot-driven surprises.  Even the end of the book, the “big twist” was predicable.  For me, the thing that drove greatest interest was the world building, so when we got stuck in a space, my attention waned, because nothing new and surprising was happening on any level.

Still, The Girl With All The Gifts, was different, and entertaining enough to read.  Because zombie!horror isn’t my favorite (I’ll read it, but I don’t actively seek it) some of the inherent joys to such a formulaic story were likely lost on me.  Those who enjoy the genre will inevitably enjoy this book. It’s well-written for its intended audience, and I’ll admit there were moments when I was completely absorbed in the world, so well-done M. R. Carey!  Some of the imagery is really fantastic, and I was glued to the story at the beginning, so all that’s worth mentioning.

Also, because I’ve ranted about it before, there’s another dead cat in this book.  Specifically for eating, and while it’s not very graphic, it happens and is discussed.  Not a fan of that, and seems to inevitably pop up in zombie novels.  Pfft.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★
Writing: ★★★
Pacing: ★★ 1/2
Narrator: ★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★ 1/2


Have you either read this book or seen the movie?  I actually found out after I starting reading that The Girl With All The Gifts was really popular and hyped at publication!  If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought in the comments!

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2 responses to “The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

  1. I saw the movie, and I thought it was pretty good. I think there was a dog that was implied to be hurt in the movie, and that bothered me a lot. While it was unique for the genre, I found it had a lot of tropes common to zombie stories. I’m ready for some stories that are unique on their own merit, not just in it’s genre. The actors all did a very good job, which was the saving grace of the film. I don’t know if I’ll read the book, especially since it seems the tropes are just as prevalent there.

    • Amber

      Yeah, I think if you’re not into the tropes, this one is probably a miss for you. 🙂 I’m considering the movie (I do a book vs. movie feature on the blog, so I’m always on the lookout) so it’s good to hear that it’s fairly decent!