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The Girl with All the Gifts | [M. R. Carey]

The Girl with All the Gifts

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, June 2014 - All I knew going into M.R. Carey's The Girl with All the Gifts was that it is a zombie novel centered around a special, enigmatic little girl named Melanie. Now that I've finished, I have a dilemma — I want to convince everyone I know to listen to it, but I don't want to give a single thing away. What I will say is this: The Girl with All the Gifts is one of the most imaginative, original, and deeply human takes on the zombie genre I have ever encountered in any form. It's definitely a thriller in the true sense of the word: every time I thought I knew where the story was going, Carey completely changed the game, and there were plenty of those harrowing, suspenseful scenes that make the genre so irresistible. But what made this story truly unique were the characters — multidimensional, believable, and sympathetic personalities that stayed with me long after the story was over. If you like zombie fiction, or just great, smart thrillers, make this your next listen. And don't dare let anyone spoil the ending for you. —Sam, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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."

What Members Say

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  •  
    Amazon Customer NC USA 11-23-14
    Amazon Customer NC USA 11-23-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Spoiler-free review below - Amazing book!"
    Where does The Girl with All the Gifts rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Near the top. The narration isn't perfect, but the story is so fabulous, this is in my top five.


    What other book might you compare The Girl with All the Gifts to and why?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Finty Williams’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    YES! I looked forward to waiting in line or doing menial chores, so I would have more opportunities to listen.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    25 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Megan Aurora, Colorado, United States 06-14-14
    Megan Aurora, Colorado, United States 06-14-14 Member Since 2013

    Obsessive book hoarder, and intense audible lover.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worth it, 10x over!"
    Would you listen to The Girl with All the Gifts again? Why?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Finty Williams’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    35 of 38 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Share Faerber St. Louis, MO, US 06-15-14
    Share Faerber St. Louis, MO, US 06-15-14 Member Since 2015

    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!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Read This Book!"

    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!

    36 of 40 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lesley Seattle, WA, United States 06-19-14
    Lesley Seattle, WA, United States 06-19-14 Member Since 2005

    From Austen to zombies!

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    "A boxful of great, icky, and terrifying surprises"

    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!

    42 of 48 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lulu 11-26-14
    Lulu 11-26-14

    I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.

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    "Still Can't Believe I Liked This. A Bunch"

    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.

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marci portland, OR, United States 06-16-14
    Marci portland, OR, United States 06-16-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It was good, not great"

    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.

    58 of 68 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pikay California 12-13-14
    Pikay California 12-13-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hours in, restarted so husband could listen too!"
    Would you listen to The Girl with All the Gifts again? Why?

    Yes ... because the writing, the characters, the story, the ending, and the performance were all so satisfying. Thank you, Mike and Finty!


    What did you like best about this story?

    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!


    What about Finty Williams’s performance did you like?

    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!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 06-16-14
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 06-16-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Excellent"

    To call this is one of the best 'zombie' books I have ever read (I do like zombie books) would be to make it much smaller than it is. Sure, there are zombies, but this book is about human interactions--about humanity. Without giving any of the great turns and twists away, I have to say that the character development is absolutely brilliant. I can't recall a single instance in the book where a character went off-course in an unexpected way--those who changed (and many did) changed because they were reacting to something outside themselves (and the changes were powerful and moving); those who didn't change didn't change because nothing could have made them do so. You come to know each one of them well, especially Madeleine--the little girl at the center of the story. And what a story it is! M.R. Carey has crafted a tightly knit plot that will keep you at the edge or your seat (or wherever you happen to be while you listen) from start to finish. This was one of those audiobooks that I couldn't wait to get back to. Finty Williams is PERFECT for the narrator. Her rendition of little Madeleine's voice is particularly great (conveying innocence without ever being saccharine). Loved it! Can't wait for this author's next novel.

    19 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Menefee Alexandria, Va 06-18-14
    T. Menefee Alexandria, Va 06-18-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting take on a saturated genre"

    If you like zombie books give this one a shot (if you are tired of the genre, I would still recommend this one as the premise behind how the zombie's are created and behave is interesting).

    I thought that this had great character development (I felt more sorry for the zombies then the regular humans), but it was a little graphic in some spots which might be a bit much for some.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raji 03-05-15
    Raji 03-05-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Zombie Sharknado"

    Couldn't get past a quarter of the book. narration is tiring, story reads like a bad Hollywood movie, and writing is amateurish. first writer I've ever read that uses f***ing and s**t in her narrative not as part of a character's speech or thoughts. I can watch Sharknado but I can't read it (or listen to it).

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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