Reading Challenge – A Mystery or Thriller

Book Number Fourteen – The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey


The book first came to my attention on one of those Buzzfeed lists that informs you of the ‘Books you should not miss this year’ or something similar. I’d picked up and read the blurb many times during my trips to Waterstones and the fact that you don’t get much from it only piqued my interest more, it was upon seeing the glowing praise from Joss Whedon that convinced me to finally take the plunge and hand over my £8.99. I’m a self-professed Whedonite so I hold his word in high esteem.

The book starts off open enough that you’re not really sure what’s going on, again I’ll relate to something Joss Whedon related and openly admit that at first I thought this was some type of government programme similar to the Initiative but doing experiments on people instead of monsters and demons. But as the book progressed I realised that it was a post-apocalyptic world where humanity seems to have been wiped out by a virus. Yes, this is a zombie book, but quite fresh in the sense that it’s not like other books in the genre. For starters you have Melanie a young girl of 10 years of age whom the book very much centres around. Perhaps it’s the voice of innocence, of a girl who has been closed off from the world that makes this such a compelling read, either way it’s hard not to feel some empathy for her, even when you (and Melanie) realises that she’s a ‘hungry’ The book has a few other central characters too, Sergeant Parks who has been tasked with the job of securing the children in the compound and ensuring the safety of all those who dwell in it from the hungries roaming outside the walls, Miss Justineau a teacher who is meant to assess the children and report back to the cold yet driven Doctor Caldwell.

When the compound is overthrown by a group of Junkers (humans who have decided to live wild outside of the Beacon – the place of safety) Melanie, Justineau, Parks, Caldwell and reluctant young soldier Gallagher take to the road on foot. There’s plenty of drama and tension along the way and the author does a great job of really developing the characters and changing the dynamics of the relationships.

There are moments that I found difficult to read, the sections where Caldwell discusses the science and biology of the virus, whilst clearly well researched, just prevented the narrative of the book to flow as smoothly as it could. There are two particularly eerie moments in the book, which I’m sure you will know what they are if and when you read it. The great thing about this book is that it’s easy to imagine in your mind, it’s written in a visual and cinematic way. So I conveyed no surprise when I was told recently that the author was writing the book alongside the script for the movie adaptation (She Who Brings Gifts due to be released in 2016) it really is easy to imagine this as a film. Also props to the author for setting it in the UK, it could easily have been another American based tale, but I appreciated the avoidance of the cliché.

Although incredibly well written and unexpected the ending just felt a little flat, and whilst thought provoking and kind of despairing (which I feel it was meant to be) there were just a few things I don’t feel were fully resolved and a couple of moments that seemed to lack progression.

Star Rating out of 5: 3.5

‘Of course she’d save the kids if she could, if there was any way, but you can’t save people from the world. There’s nowhere else to take them.’


Happy reading folks.