The Girl with all the Gifts. Book Review

9780316278157THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M. R. Carey
Orbit, h/b, 407pp, £12.99
Reviewed by Rebekah Lunt

‘The Girl with all the Gifts’ is by M. R. Carey, which is the pen-name for Mike Carey, and this book is rightfully being pushed as speculative fiction. I can understand Carey wishing to give himself some fresh space in which to launch this book – which was simultaneously written up as a film – but I would hope that this does not detract at all from the pride he should have in this work. Carey is one of those marvellous b******s of whom one begins to wonder where he can possibly put a foot wrong.

The book is one of those which, even if you physically can’t, you want – even need – to get through it in one sitting, or at least as quick as you can. I sped through it hungrily, pun intended – read the book to get that one! I found it to be one of the most original stories of post-apocalyptic life that I’ve recently read, and especially loved that it’s based in the UK. Starting out in what appears to be some kind of care facility, the structural development of the story draws you in so quickly, partially because the characters and setting are so convincing. The story unfolds in such a way and so delicately that one is able to take seriously each new strangeness. My own opinion is that this is due to the unfailing emotional authenticity of each of the characters – this is the case from the soldiers to the doctors, and is no more true than in the protagonist, Melanie.

Melanie is a fantastically well structured character, for whom and with whom we feel all of the key meaning and emotion of the book. Truth be told, without her, the book would be a catalogue of very well written stock characters within a stock universe and with very predictable courses to plot. The beauty of Melanie’s character and her position of fulcrum in the story are what really make this outstanding, and in fact hits us with unexpected twists and turns of the plot, and the development of those around her.

I am not going to detail the story in any way as I would love for you to have the same experience I had with this book: it really grows on you and takes hold strongly – you’ll get that one too once you’ve read it… All I can say is read it! It comes highly recommended.