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.
©2014 M.R. Carrey (P)2014 Hachette Audio
"A great read that takes hold of you and doesn't let go.""If you only read one novel this year, make sure it's this one, it's amazing.""The story of Melanie and the people around her is so thoughtfully crafted, so heartfelt, remorseless and painfully human, that it takes the potentially tired trope of the zombie apocalypse and makes it as fresh as it is terrifying. The story spirals towards a conclusion so surprising, so warm and yet so chilling, that it takes a moment to realize it's been earned since the first page, and even before. It left me sighing with envious joy, like I'd been simultaneously offered flowers and beaten at chess. A jewel."
Yes ... because the writing, the characters, the story, the ending, and the performance were all so satisfying. Thank you, Mike and Finty!
So much ... impossible to choose. None of Carey's characters is a cartoon; all are fully and wonderfully drawn. The story is full of little, almost offhand turns of phrase that just resonate through you, again and again ... little chilling chords that mimic the author's equally skillful carving and direction of plot. In a world overfull of zombie apocalypse stories, Carey has created one that is truly exceptional and non-formulaic. I was so sorry to see this book end!
Everything, everything, everything. After several years of listening to narrated books, I have so much respect and admiration for truly exceptional narrators, and Finty Williams goes to the top of my all-time favorites list. Intonation was perfect, for every character, scene, and situation. Never too slow, too maudlin, too dramatic ... never grating, never monotone. Just wonderful. Thank you, Finty, for taking an already wonderful book and adding yet another layer of perfection to it!
The ending both moved and surprised me ... I didn't see it coming, and while it made me uneasy and uncomfortable, I could not, at the same time, argue with the characters' rationale.
I bought this book after reading a sample chapter or two, but of course, not knowing really what to expect. The book bounces around in a third-person omniscient way, which is a perspective that I sometimes find tricky for authors ... but it is particularly well-done here.
I would not describe myself as a connoisseur of "zombie books," though I have read a few, and I didn't come to this book with more than light "genre story" expectations. I was pleasantly and poignantly surprised. Five hours in, I started the book over so my husband and I could listen to it together (something I have only done with one other book in 7 years). In short order, Carey introduced us to characters we genuinely cared about, set in a scenario a bit outside the typical one ... and when, all too soon, we reached the end of this amazing story, he gave us an ending that manages to be somehow both entirely unexpected and inevitable.
Highly, highly recommended. I'm going on to check out some of Mike Carey's previous books now.
Obsessive book hoarder, and intense audible lover.
Probably. But the emotional roller coaster was exhausting-- so not for a while. The characters are built so well, that I even disregarded my totally irrational but debilitating fear of zombies, and listened to it all in ONE day.
No, but I will be checking them out for sure!! The performance was astounding. I never got confused between characters, and she attuned to the emotional turmoil within each character flawlessly.
If anything, please at least READ this book. I felt that listening to this book made it resonate even more with me. I found myself feeling despair, disgust, overwhelming tenderness, and anger with every bit of this novel. I never saw anything coming, and that made the experience even more intense. I was disappointed with the ending, not because it didn't fit well, or was cut off too soon. No, I was disappointed because I loved and hated every character. I felt betrayed along with some characters too. If I have so many emotions throughout a book, I know that this is one I will recommend endlessly to everyone.
Near the top. The narration isn't perfect, but the story is so fabulous, this is in my top five.
I don't want to give too much away. I would say if you like science fiction or horror with really excellent characterization, relationships, and well-earned emotion, you will love this. People who like John Scalzi, or Let Me [the Right One] In will probably love this.
Also, this story is chock full of female characters who are fully realized and not valued primarily for their sex appeal. I don't feel like Carey set out to write a feminist novel by any means, but he seems to respect and like women and realize that we are people too, and can carry a story that will appeal to both sexes. It was a delight to read a gripping story that passed the Bechdel test effortlessly, without feeling strained or political about it.
YES! I looked forward to waiting in line or doing menial chores, so I would have more opportunities to listen.
Finty Williams does a very good job overall. She gives the correct emotional tone to each passage, and the characters are easy to differentiate. The one thing that bugged me to no end was her pronunciation of Justineau (which is one of the most common words in the novel, unfortunately). I don't know if it was a bad attempt at a really authentic French accent, or ignorance of how "eau" is pronounced, but it comes out "Justinoo" and it annoyed me throughout.
I am an artist and I love to listen to books while I work. Books have always been an important part of my life. Audible Rocks!
This isn't a genre I normally read, but it transcends any genre. Like other reviewers, I wont tell you what it is about or what happens except that it is a story of a remarkable child and the people around her. I read all 13+ hours without stopping except when absolutely nescessary. This is a special and suprising story with lots of twists. It might give you nightmares, but you won't soon forget it!
Upon reading the other reviews of this book on Audible, I'm apparently going to be a slightly dissenting voice. This book was good, it was entertaining, but it was predictable, and sloppy in places and didn't stretch my mind and imagination as much as I'd wished it would.
During the big "action" scenes of the book, the characters did some dumb things that made me roll my eyes--obvious set-ups for big confrontations to come.
The attempt at creating depth of the characters was poorly done and felt pasted-in by an editor, there were several scenes that just didn't fit with the rest of the story.
I enjoyed the ending, it wrapped up in a creepy, ominous way, but I even it was a little predictable.
The book was good. It was a fun ride, and worth four stars. But don't expect a mind blowing new look at a post-apocalyptic story.
Do I recommend? Meh, yeah, I guess.
From Austen to zombies!
I didn't think there were any more possible takes on zombies. I was wrong. I like the genre, but I never saw THIS coming.
Melanie lives in a facility with some other "special" kids. She loves pictures, history, Greek myths, and especially her favorite teacher, Miss Justineau. Each day of learning is fun--and all days are just like the others. Until one day when everything changes.
I won't give more details: they wouldn't be spoilers, exactly, but the events of the book unfold in such an unconventional way that each reader should experience it individually. This is well-trodden ground, and yet that's the genius of this book: just when you're expecting a familiar chain of events, something completely new shows up and puts you way off course.
Most books I've read in this genre focus exclusively on humans; you don't get much of the other point of view, and you wouldn't expect it to be so nuanced--or scary. Melanie's like any kid, but she's also NOT like any kid, and the comparison can be very creepy.
Melanie alone was enough for four stars from me. The book does have flaws--for one thing, it takes a while to really get rolling. The opening sections aren't boring, fortunately, but they felt static, and I began to wonder when something was going to happen. The character development also felt a little slow, and Carey's prose style, while literary, doesn't have the exciting flow I'm used to from other suspense and horror authors.
But as the story developed, I began to get more and more interested with every horrible little surprise that came up. By the end, I was completely glued to my player, all the way through to the absolutely chilling end--yikes! The last hour was utterly and completely different from what I had expected, in a very good way.
The narration by Finty Williams is fantastic, especially the voice for Melanie--little-girlish, and yet also terrifying when necessary. Highly recommended for those looking for a more thoughtful (but still scary) zombie experience!
On with my October reading: Late to The Girl with All the Gifts party, I have to tip my hat to those that were able to write a review without any spoilers. We all know how hard that is, and there is almost nothing you can say about this that isn't a spoiler. Having the story unfurl as I listened enhanced my experience of this book immensely. I have to admit, I was completely surprised at the wonderfully calculated revelation in a book I wouldn't have chosen if I had known much of the plot. That's one advantage to a randomly chosen book suggested by an Audible editor, and a late arrival. That said; you only have to read the first couple of reviews to realize that, the beans have been spilled...zombies.
Who wants to read another zombie book? There ARE a few *zombie* reads that expand the saturated genre, but it's like cats; all it takes is one really bad one to keep you away from the species the rest of your life (damn you Choochie Kitty for what you did to my suede boots in the closet). I have nothing against a good zombie tale; finding one that's good is the problem. The Passage, WW Z, The Angels are the Reapers, I Am Legend, The Strain, Patient Zero, I thought were good zombie reads, but I'm neither a Z expert, or a patient reader of the genre. I can only have fun for so long before I start with all the questions, get sick of the gratuitous gore, and grow bored with the worn out zombie trifecta of Zombies-Evil Marauders-Good Guys (with either a highly intelligent plan, loads of supplies, or military expertise).
TGWATG was a smart surprise that escaped the zombie rut and didn't seem to smack me in the head half-way through with the dumb stick. Carey keeps it tight, revealing bits of information slowly, keeping you in suspense while he constructs a world where zombies just might make sense. These zombies are not your zombies de rigueur. There's a scientific foundation that has their devolution colliding with evolution. The response of the characters seems genuine as does their characterization. A clever ending packs a wallop that has you looking out at the future like Taylor in Planet of the Apes must have after he got over the shock of seeing the wrecked half of a seaweed-strewn Statue of Liberty -- yeah, it's crappy, but he did survive to begin anew the human race.
This is one quasi-psychological zombie thriller that I could see some *A list* actors signing up for the film version, but there is a big caveat here, and one that explains what I saw as a stumbling block within the novel. Melanie is the bright spark that gives the novel its moments of uniqueness, and she is equally the child that seems awkward in the author's portrayal. It's a fish out of water; a child wreaking havoc and gore; the 3 yr. old boy on youtube adeptly chain smoking; that feeling you had watching (or reading) Let the Right One In -- an uncomfortable symbiotic relationship that could either be the brilliance of the novel for you or your own stumbling block.
Besides the fact that Melanie is young, for some reason the book felt more like a YA novel (but there is the issue of language). If you can get passed the word *zombie* and those occasional moments that seemed to straddle the YA/Adult literature fence, this novel reminded me slightly of P.D. James Children of Men -- just slightly. Original concepts, well written, imaginative and enjoyable if you like this genre.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (paranormal fantasy) - The Girl with All the Gifts is set in England sometime in the future after a strange infection has turned people into "Hungries." Not zombies, but very similar in that they eat humans, and there are very few humans left on earth. I'm not a zombie fan, but I was drawn to this book by the awards and the fact that it is supposedly written with a different slant on the genre. That is true to some extent. Don't want to give too much away, but one of the main characters is a Hungry, which gives a different perspective, and there's more interesting science in this book than in the usual zombie story. (But then I've only listened to two or three.)
I like the first and last of the book the best, the first because you don't really know what's going on, and the last because -- well, let's just say it's chilling and somewhat unexpected! There are some parts in between that are exciting and parts that are sweet, but for the most part it's just the usual zombie cr@p. Excuse me, they're called "Hungries" in this book.
PERFORMANCE - Miss Williams has a lovely voice and a British accent. She does a very good job.
OVERALL - I suppose men would like this book, but I think it might have a little too much girly stuff in it for some guys (like my husband). It's an easy listen, as there are only a few main characters to keep straight. Lots of zombie killing and gore and quite a bit of bad language as well. Very mild sexual references.
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
I don't think I have ever read a book about Zombies. Unless they were some minor character that I wasn't aware of before I read the book. Something in the synopsis and various reviews I read about this book though, made me want to break my no-Zombie rule and take the plunge. I am very glad it did.
This book successfully does what I think the best of the books in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre do. The creature or monster become the vehicle to move the plot along, rather than becoming the plot itself. Early Anne Rice books did this very well. I will probably never pick up a book where the plot is described as "a Zombie invasion takes over the earth". But a book about the devastating after affects of a world wide virus, and the human survivor's attempts to rebuild society when they face the scariest threat possible - an evolved version of themselves, will capture my attention. The fact that the evolved versions are children super-Zombies won't deter me.
I will admit that it is probably the blood and gore as Zombies feast on human flesh that bothers me the most when I think about reading Zombie books. And it seems to me that this feasting is often the purpose and the climax of the book. There was some feasting in this book. But by the time that occurred I was so caught up in the main character and her attempts to understand the world around her, that I was able to gloss over the gory parts and move on.
I followed the plot line most of the way through. I got a little confused by the wrap up explanation and felt that part was rushed. I am still not sure I understood the climax and what remained after. But the characters were well developed and understandable. I am not sure if this was intentional, but I liked that almost all of the characters had character flaws that were ambiguous at best. No one was entirely good or entirely evil.
I am very glad I read this book and highly recommend it.
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
Zombie fatigue? I love The Walking Dead (at least the first 3 seasons); respect the simple genius of Night of the Living Dead; and enjoyed a few others out there currently. When this title was hyped in Entertainment Weekly, I rolled my eyes and flipped the page. However, when it popped up on sale and with the recommendation of an Audible editor, clicked 2X and began listening. The POV of 3 females: scientist, teacher, 10 year old girl make for a different take on the genre. The explanation of how the virus affects different generations at the end is a nice surprise. There were some slow and predictable parts, but on sale, it's worth a listen.
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