The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey Review: Sci-fi Zombie Overload

October 27, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey Review: Sci-fi Zombie OverloadThe Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Published by Orbit on June 19, 2014
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller
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NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING

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 is a very special girl.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.

There are few things I like more than zombies. Zombie books, movies, tv shows, graphic novels, name it and I’ve probably heard about it.

That’s why going into The Girl with All the Gifts, I probably had sky high expectations. I knew that zombies were in it, but didn’t know in what shape or form. That intentionally vague blurb did it’s part by intriguing me, but I’m not sure it was necessary. Within the first few chapters, we find out why Melanie is such a special girl – because she’s a zombie. And a lucid one at that, and the whole novel tells us why and how this has occurred.

Melanie thinks: when your dreams come true, your true has moved. You’ve already stopped being the person who had the dreams, so it feels more like a weird echo of something that already happened to you a long time ago.

While I do love a good brainless zombie story, I love intelligent zombie books even more. However, the paragraphs of the medicine and science here went over my head, with info dumps here and there as Dr Caldwell droned on about viruses and spores. All we needed to know was how determined she was to research and understand the virus, and without the info dumping I could have gotten the picture.

The characters here are the show reel of the book, with the courageous and curious Melanie, the gruff Sergeant Parks, the doting compassionate teacher Mrs Justineau, the young Private Gallagher and Dr Caldwell. Each of them are quite memorable, although I found them to be kind of stereotypical, especially Sergeant Parks with his military gruffness and the detached intelligence of the scientist. Melanie herself was a really strong character though, and I was charmed with her character right along with Justineau.

So what was it about this book that I didn’t love? Aside from the interesting angle about Melanie and the scientific info dumps, it wasn’t anything that I hadn’t seen before. I can see what the book is aiming to achieve, focusing on strong character development, although I felt like the stereotypical secondary characters kind of took that away from us. All of the focus is on Melanie, and I’ve never really been one for the special snowflake story.

It does feature a not quite romance that was mildly entertaining and a shocking ending you didn’t quite see coming though, so at least it had that.

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I’m going to be the black sheep here and say that The Girl with All the Gifts wasn’t the amazing thrilling read that I expected it to be. If I had known it would be pretty much a straight zombie novel without a strong mystery element to it, I might have been better equipped going into it. Lots of people loved this book though, so I think it’s just my zombie addiction coming through. If you’re looking for an intelligent zombie book, definitely pick up Feed by Mira Grant (My review).

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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45 responses to “The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey Review: Sci-fi Zombie Overload

    • Oh I know, it's really intriguing isn't it? But you totally wouldn't have picked up zombies from the blurb lol. I think you would enjoy it if you're looking for great character development. Thanks Cyn! Let me know what you think of it if you decide to pick it up.

  1. Haha, have to be a black sheep every now and then right? It did have some good character development, particularly for Mel, but I found the characters quite stock standard in that sense. Thank you Faye, I hope to find another brilliant zombie read!

  2. I'm so sorry to hear you didn't really enjoy this one much, Jeann! I loved it to bits and really enjoyed all the science around it.

    I still need to read Feed by Mira Grant, it's there on my Kindle library, so I hope to get to it soon!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #67!!My Profile

  3. AWWWW… I'm so sad you didn't like this one as much, Jeann! I found this book amaaazing. Although you're right in saying the themes are not exactly new, it was the character development that reeled me in. I do have to admit some of the worldbuilding stuff also went over my head but as long as I didn't miss anything, it was good 😛 Hopefully your next zombie read will be better, dear!!
    Faye M. recently posted…ARC Review: Stray by Elissa SussmanMy Profile

  4. Oh crappers. I would have thought you'd have enjoyed this one before clicking on your review. I bought this one a while ago, after seeing Zoe singing it's praises. Even with generic secondary characters, I can't recall kid Zombies in any of the books I've read so far. I'll still give this one a go, but going into it with lower expectations now. I hope that way I'm pleasantly surprised.

    Have you read Rot and Ruin? I plan on reading that soon. Got a hunger for Zombies again now that TWD is back. Great review Jeann <3
    Kelly recently posted…A Sudden Light by Garth SteinMy Profile

    • Oh yes, it does sound amazing but it really does show the different strokes thing doesn't it? Maybe the kid zombies thing made it unique enough actually, especially one like Melanie. I haven't read Rot & Ruin yet, do let me know how that is so I can see. I still want to read The First Days and White Trash Zombie XD

  5. Oh I totally agree, there are so many special snowflake stories and this one was dull with all the running and the hiding from zombies. I just wish I enjoyed the character development a bit more, because there was lots of it. Thank you Jess

  6. Ah yes, I do like your light contemporaries but the books I get more out of are those intelligent, thought provoking ones too! Oh yes, it seems like with the zombie genre they have explored every trope in the world and this one was more of the same. Thank you Siiri <3

  7. LOL I love puns so much haha! Keeps things fresh 😉 Yeah, I totally agree that if it's a zombie book that I think I will love, it has to be unique! I hope you do check out Feed, man I loved it so much.

  8. I do like zombie books but I thought this one was a psychological thriller *face plant* Yeah, I'm not the biggest fan of info dumps as well, they just make you want to give up lol. Thanks Nick!

    • It was interesting in the way they developed Melanie as a character, but the rest of it felt so stock standard. Yeah, I love zombies but there's only so many books I can read. Thanks Marianne!

  9. *points* BLACK SHEEP! . . . hehe 🙂

    Sciencey info dumps are kind of a pet peeve with me. That was the case for this parallel worlds book I read and, man, it just got so BORING. Like, I want some background, sure, but enough is enough people. Learn when to shhhhhh on the science talk. It hurts my readerly eyes.

    • Heheh yes, I should just have that label permanently at the rate I'm going XD oh I know, I really do like science explanations but not when they are mind boggling and hurt my brain!

  10. Woah. Okay then. I had absolutely no idea this was about zombies. No clue at all. I actually thought Melanie was in a psychiatric hospital or something like that…now I'm not sure if I want to read this one at all. Fantastic review, Jeann – best I've read for this book! I'm sorry to hear that there was a lot of info-dumping, but at least it had a shocking ending.
    Ebony @ Daring Damse recently posted…Books That Have Stayed With MeMy Profile

    • I know right! I literally thought this was a psychological thriller when I picked it up and to be just a stock zombie story! Oh the disappointment. Thank you Ebony, I really appreciate it!

  11. Aww…I'm sorry to hear that you thought this was so mediocre Jeann! 🙁 I personally really enjoyed it, but I can definitely see where you're coming from – especially in the whole science aspect of the story; I think it went over everyone's heads – ha! 😉 Anyhow, thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! Hopefully your next read stands out more to you. <3
    Zoe @ The Infinite T recently posted…I’ll Give You the SunMy Profile

    • Oh I know, so many people enjoyed this book but it was kind of boring for me unfortunately! Those science info dumps, just wow! Thank you Zoe. I hope I get a good read soon, otherwise that feared slump may come my way.

  12. I'm not a zombie fan so I usually stay away from anything involving zombies (except Amy Tintera's Reboot series, that series was pretty good!) LOL I don't even watch The Walking Dead! I'm sorry this one didn't work for you *sigh* It sounds like a lot of substance was missing from this one and info dumping always makes me sad 🙁
    Lily recently posted…Hothouse Flower (Calloway Sisters #2):ReviewMy Profile

    • Ah, yes I wasn't a fan of the first Reboot book, but I've been wondering whether to go back and read the 2nd one some time. Oh the info dumping was the worst thing. If it delivered more in terms of the plot I may have liked it more.

  13. Oh noesssss. I really liked The Girl With All The Gifts, but I have to agree that the science part of the book went straight over my head. Also, JEANN HAVE YOU PLAYED THE LAST OF US? NO YOU HAVEN'T. If you do, it's kind of the same concept, aka a fungus creates the zombies 😀 😀
    Valerie Langlois recently posted…Get To Know The Awesome That Is MeMy Profile

    • I know, so many people loved it but it was just boring for me! The science parts was just wow lol. I can't wait to play The Last of Us, the boyfriend started it but never finished. My turn soon 😀

  14. I don't particularly enjoy zombie books, but if I had read this I would be disappointed with the info dump. I'm not a fan of those and like my world to gradually be explained over the course of the book. It's a shame because it sounds like it could have been an interesting read otherwise.

    Great review!
    Nick @ Nick's B recently posted…Review : Earth & Sky by Megan CreweMy Profile

  15. I haven't read too many 'fresh' (excuse the pun, LOL) zombie books, so although I'm sad that you didn't enjoy this story, I can't say that I'm overly surprised that it turned out to be more of the same. I tend to be very picky about this genre for this exact reason, and I love how you recommended a better alternative at the end of your review. At least you gave me something to work with. 🙂
    Carmel @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Early Review: Otherworld Nights by Kelley ArmstrongMy Profile

  16. "While I do love a good brainless zombie story, I love intelligent zombie books even more." I think this actually goes for every book I read–as much as I love a brainless story to read after a tiring day or at the beach, I still love an intelligent book so so soooo much! Sorry about the info dump 🙁 I'm glad you ejoyed the characters though. Mostly. Stereotypical characters usually aren't much of my thing. Especially as they've come more and more present the more I read. I'm sorry it wasn't as good as you hoped it would be, but I'm glad you still found some redeeming things in the story. Great review, Jeann! <3
    Siiri recently posted…Blog Tour and Giveaway: Addicted After All by Krista and Becca RitchieMy Profile

  17. I'm still glad you liked it….even if you didn't LOVE it. I agree, though, the doctor's monologues were…woah. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SHE WAS ON ABOUT. But the ending made me so sad! Gah! I couldn't believe it…I just wanted to scoop up all the characters and plonk them in a happy world so they could be a family. The character development was phenomenal. XD That's the sucky thing about too much hype, though, right?! Sometimes it's just so unfun.
    Cait @ Notebook Sist recently posted…Spark by Rachael Craw || Interview, Giveaway, General AwesomenessMy Profile

    • That ending was what pulled up the rating for me, I kind of LOVED the shock value in a way and it just wasn't what I expected. Just wow. It did have a really good character development, but oh man, all the sciencey stuff was way too much, and I usually love science! Oh well. Thanks Cait!

    • Ah, what sort of zombie book are you looking for? I actually really did like Warm Bodies for a YA romance sort of read with a really weird twist (and love interest). THe movie was adorable, too.

  18. I see where you're coming from, Jeann. While I was able to appreciate most of what you didn't, I found that I had to drag myself through the majority of the book. It took me at least a week and a half to finish this, and that's surprising because there wasn't a shortage of action here. I think it's a very stereotypical zombie book – a lot of history of what happened, how the characters came to be, and a lot of walking around trying to get to the next relatively safe place for them to hide.
    Joy (Joyousreads) recently posted…Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 125My Profile

    • Yeah, that was my main problem with it – it definitely felt like a stereotypical zombie book, and that I didn't expect. I wanted so much more you know? But it was my expectations that let me down. Melanie was an amazing character though.

  19. I am sorry to hear that this book didn't live up to your expectations, Jeann. To be honest, I am not fan of zombies (I only watch The Walking Dead – that's as far as I'll go), but what turns me away from this kind of books is that they are mostly the same.

    Have you read The Last Bastion of the Living by Rhiannon Frater? I really liked that one.

    Great review!
    Glass recently posted…Bookish Problems #12 – Reading ListsMy Profile

    • Oh I just love zombies so much hehehe. Oh I did receive that book for review but never ended up reading it! I read Pretty When She Dies though which was pretty brilliant. Will have to check it out sometime, thanks for the reminder Glass!

  20. Oh dear! And I'd heard such good things about it, so I went and borrowed the book! I think it's still something I'll at least try — honestly, though, zombies aren't really my thing, which is why I was apprehensive about it in the first place. I'm not a fan of the info-dump, either, so that's a little off-putting. But the idea of the story DOES sound very interesting! Great review.
    Kara @ Diary of a Te recently posted…Book Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle MeadMy Profile

    • Yeah, it just wasn't for me because I'm a die hard zombie fan and expected so much more. I actually thought it was a psychological thriller beforehand because of how vague it was, oh well!