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The Girl With All the Gifts #1

The Girl With All the Gifts

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2014)
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 Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

420 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 14, 2014

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About the author

M.R. Carey

31 books5,605 followers
Mike Carey is the acclaimed writer of Lucifer and Hellblazer (now filmed as Constantine). He has recently completed a comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, and is the current writer on Marvel's X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four. He has also written the screenplay for a movie, Frost Flowers, which is soon to be produced by Hadaly Films and Bluestar Pictures.

Also writes as Mike Carey

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5 stars
67,768 (31%)
4 stars
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3 stars
44,581 (20%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 22,114 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
September 19, 2016
“And then like Pandora, opening the great big box of the world and not being afraid, not even caring whether what’s inside is good or bad. Because it’s both. Everything is always both. But you have to open it to find that out.”

I have to say that I'm not much of a traditional zombie fan - moaning, slow-walking dead people are neither interesting nor scary to me - but there is nothing traditional about this book.

Firstly, this is not an old school "how to get away from the zombies and stay alive" kind of book. It opens from the perspective of these zombies - intelligent, emotional, child zombies - and Melanie is one of them. A young, intelligent girl who is seemingly full of life, curiosity and the ability to form emotional attachments.

The way the story is told from a specific perspective is important, changing the way we view Melanie and the other "children". They are first presented as thoughtful, frightened kids in a situation that makes us instantly sympathetic. We are not allowed to simply view them as necessary sacrifices in the hunt for a zombie cure.

It is more of an introspective, philosophical book about what it means to be human and how being human might not necessarily make you one of the good guys, than it is an action-packed adventure full of chases and shoot-outs (though there is some of that too).

At the heart of this story is Melanie's relationship with her beloved teacher Miss Justineau. And, through the teacher's stories and inspiration (with particular reference to the story of Pandora), it is also about Melanie's quest for love and acceptance, as well as an understanding of who she is.

The zombie science felt new and interesting, despite my aversion to most technical language, and all the principal characters are well-developed with their own history, motivations and aspirations. The author even takes time to develop a deeper understanding of those characters we will never come to like.

If you are looking for horror and traditional zombies, The Girl with All the Gifts might not be the book for you. But if you'd like something refreshing, moving and more character-driven, I would highly recommend it.

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Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 72 books51k followers
July 12, 2022
The last book I read (which was very good) took me 16 weeks to get through.

This one arrived yesterday morning. My wife got her hands on it first and finished it by the evening. I took over and have finished it 8pm on the next day (today). It's not a short book, 460 pages of reasonably small font. It *is* a very compelling book. The opening is the strongest I've read in an age.

It's the first book I've bought in a long time. Publishers and authors send me free books in the hope I'll read them and say something nice, so I've a stack of books waiting that I didn't pay for. However, I only manage 10 or 12 books a year and once in a while it's nice to pick something myself.

A friend, whose tastes I trust, has recommended this book forcefully and frequently for a couple of years ... so I caved and got it.

It's the sort of story that's best come to cold. If someone spoils if for you it ... spoils it. It's not that the whole thing rests on some massive twist (I see dead people), just that it's so much nicer to experience it the way the author wanted you to, a slow reveal widening from claustrophobia to agoraphobia.

It's a book set in modern times, written in the present tense, and moving quite frequently from the main character's point of view to those of several others around her. The prose is of very high quality, powerful, direct descriptions that put you there, understated emotional scenes that drag you in, and violent action scenes that get the pulse racing. It's also clever and well structured enough to suspend what disbelief needs suspending.

I'm not going to say more than that other than, believe the hype, read it.

I've now seen the film too. Very good, I thought.

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Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 505 books402k followers
August 13, 2017
You’d think by now we would have reached ‘peak zombie,’ right? I mean, there’s only so much you can do with a genre. But Carey mines the territory for new gold and finds it. The Girl with All the Gifts opens in the strangest classroom ever. (And as a teacher, I’ve seen some pretty strange classrooms.) After the zombie apocalypse in England, some infected children have, for reasons unknown, been turned into zombies but have also retained their human intelligence. Melanie is the research lab’s star pupil. Along with her classmates, who are all strapped in their chairs to keep them from, you know, eating the human teacher, they go through lessons and read stories, so the scientists can try to understand what makes these bright young zombies tick. Melanie is not really aware of what she is, or why she is there. This ‘school’ is the only life she’s ever known. But she is aware that once in a while her classmates disappear into the lab and never come back. She fears she may be called to leave sooner or later, and she doesn’t want to part with her beloved teacher.

Then one day, Melanie’s world changes. Class is dismissed forever. Melanie will have to decide where she stands. Is she one of the humans? Or are the humans her food? The book does a great (terrifying) job describing the sort of fungal infection that could plausibly mutate into a zombie-type disease. The characters are great. The death count is high, like worse than Walking Dead high, and the ending is both terrifying and beautiful. Like zombies? Check it out!
Profile Image for Ben.
13 reviews11 followers
July 7, 2014

This book has what might be the greatest first act I've ever read. I can't describe it, because part of its wonderful tension relies on the reader's ignorance of the situation. It's absolutely brilliant though, and tells a story of a tragically fascinating girl and her relationship with her teacher and the world around her. It promises so much.

Then act two begins and almost all of that is thrown out the window for boilerplate thriller territory. It is all well written, tense, and exceptionally creepy at times. I did manage to finish the book, which I suppose is saying something in favor of its quality, but I'm not sure I can recommend it. All manner of fascinating questions and story threads are introduced or implied and then abandoned in favor of more action scenes.

I will never forget that absolutely wonderful first act, but I can't deny how disappointed I was by the rest of it.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,573 reviews33.9k followers
February 2, 2023
ETA: If you love HBO’s The Last of Us, consider reading this. It features the same insidious fungus, also has zombies and few other elements in common, but is a distinctly different story. The plotting and writing are incredible.

This is the story of a girl, locked in a room, who is strapped into a chair every morning while a man holds a gun to her head. She’s wheeled into a classroom in which there are other kids strapped into chairs just like hers, where a woman teaches them lessons that they will probably never need to learn.

This book is like a fantastic combination of

the scrupulously researched medical thriller aspects of Mira Grant's Deadline +
the queer, feral curiosity of a child who's not what she seems, like Octavia Butler's Fledgling +
the wandering survival aspects of The Reapers are the Angels and its badass heroine Temple +
the dichtomy of high-functioning/degenerate beings in Warm Bodies
the poignant, impossible need in Let the Right One In.

But with a fascinating pathogen, distinctly drawn characters, and unexpected (and AWESOME) ending of its own. First 5 star read of 2014!

Full review posted at The Midnight Garden.
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
June 23, 2018
now no one can yell at me ever again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjGkB...

argh, another tricky-to-review book.

i think it's safe to discuss the fact that this book is about zombies. that cat is outta that bag. but it's one of those new spins on the zombie-tale, like Raising Stony Mayhall and Zone One and The Reapers are the Angels, where the focus is not "run away from zombies aaaaaahhhh," but one which comes at the zombie story from a social philosophy angle as the survivors struggle with the responsibility of remaining human and redefining humanity in a world in which they are outnumbered by monsters, here known as "hungries."

which makes it sound SO zzzzzzzzz.

so let me back up because there is PLENTY of action in this puppy. we got guns and zombie kids and mad scientists and marauding gangs and attacks and close calls and a wallop of a reversal in the ending that kicks the predecessors of zombie lit's ass.

and now for some secrets, for those of you who have read the book:

okay, we're finished in there.

so, yeah - this book is pretty great. it has all the action of a horror novel, but it's definitely a character-driven novel, and it's surprisingly poignant. melanie is such a great character. you really feel for her in her struggles to resist the impulses generated by her hunger:

Melanie is moving forward and pulling backward at the same time. A man with a big dog on a leash and she's both of them, straining against the tether of her own will.

and for her equally powerful hunger for love, acceptance, and understanding. but it's not all hippie shit - she still has these wonderful feral attributes, which combination of qualities i am a sucker for:

my GIRL!

when i was barreling towards the ending of this, i was crossing my mental fingers for a sequel, but when that ending hit, i completely changed my mind, because i think it finished with a perfect emphatic period that would only be diminished by a return to the story.

all told, a great addition to zombie lit, and i am so glad i squeezed it into my giant wobbling "must read this very minute" stack.

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Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
532 reviews58.5k followers
July 8, 2019
Post apocalyptic is definitely my jam but after reading so many, some of them start blending into each other.

This one reminded me A LOT (like way too much) of The Passage. Both good but not amazing.

Now I need to check the movie!
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
795 reviews3,612 followers
April 30, 2023
Diligent students that would like to absorb the teacher's knowledge

In a refreshing reinterpretation of the body horror genre
That puts its focus on detailed character descriptions and moral questions instead of excessive zombality. The hardcore, extreme horror ideas and the creepy kid plot inclusion in the style of King´s The Institute, which are mixed with the usual, normal undead corpse horror ideas, make it outstanding too.

Outdoor or bunker fun?
The few settings the novel takes place in are as convincing as the comprehensible protagonists, and the professionality of an author is often shown in how to make much out of less. Without bombastic mega plots, bang bang, and all the stereotypical zombie tropes, the novel shows how normal and specially gifted humans deal with exceptional situations in a setting both frightening in the cold, zombie-infested outer world and the sterile, madness-driven bunker.

Ethics classes for the pupils too?
Morality has been included cleverly, because the question of justifying the suffering or death of some few for the sake of many or even all is an evergreen. And it is always interesting to see new, creative ways of how the plague may arise and what more or less hard scientific explanations are used. Because science even rocks the post apocalyptic terror house of human experimentation.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Braiden.
359 reviews205 followers
April 19, 2015
I was duped.

I thought The Girl With All the Gifts was about a girl who had "all the gifts" and was somehow a modern Lilith (say, like, Lilith in Supernatural as the little girl) and would bring about the apocalypse if she didn't learn to control her gifts.

I was duped. Hard.

And I'm glad I was. I'm glad the premise on the back of the book gave absolutely nothing away, only that we were going to meet a young girl by the name of Melanie, a genius and a very special girl. I'm glad that every detail about the book kept what's inside hidden away for the reader to discover alone - Pandora's box, if you will. And I don't really care that I was duped. Because The Girl With All the Gifts was a breakout so far for 2014, and I surely will be recommending M. R. Carey's sensational and engrossingly written novel for anyone that dares to question it's worth in the speculative scene.

Opening Pandora's box and unleashing what's inside is the major theme of M. R. Carey's The Girl With All the Gifts, something we should do throughout our lives, unafraid of change or disturbances. Or it could even just mean being open to things in life that contradict your beliefs. This theme existed throughout the story arcs of each of the characters of The Girl With All the Gifts, from young 10-year old Melanie, to the teacher Miss Helen Justineau, Sergeant Parks, Dr Caldwell, and Private Kieran Gallagher.

Carey's credit as a comic and film writer surely does make The Girl With All the Gifts a force to be reckoned with - The Girl With All the Gifts is a thrilling page-turner comprising of fully-realised characters, each with their own aspirations, fears, and pasts. This book is one word: Alive.

Additionally, Carey's zombies, his "hungries," are much different than what is currently on the shelves for zombie enthusiasts. The hungries and the actual biological science behind their manifestations are highly original and intriguing. The hungries are increasingly fascinating as we discover more about the parasite/protozoan that plague the bodies as Dr Caldwell does, as she conducts her experiments, stubbornly and without any outward thought for ethics.

Melanie and the other children in her "school," kept restrained and locked in cells, are infected with the fungus and exhibit behaviours of the fully-formed hungries, yet what makes these children different is that the brain has not been conquered by the fungus. This allows Melanie and the children to be able to emote and think like any ordinary human being, with a conscience. Although Melanie desires human flesh, she controls the hunger. Melanie's ability to experience feelings and emotions allows a bond to form between her and her teacher Miss Justineau. Then the research establishment that the "school" is located within - where Melanie is locked away; where Miss Justineau teaches; where Dr Caldwell conducts her research; where Sergeant Parks orders - is attacked and razed, and this band of individuals, along with Private Gallagher, a group consisting of individuals as incompatible as dogs and cats, must learn to trust and rely on each other if they are to survive and reach Beacon alive, which is perhaps the only remaining town still intact in England.

The relationship between Melanie and Miss Justineau is the heart of this novel - it is beautiful and full of hope and compromise. The narrative is thought-provoking and fast-paced, a lethal combination for any reader after a solid and eventful story. The Girl With All the Gifts is a fantastic addition to the zombie genre and I look forward to reading more from M. R. Carey, particularly his Felix Castor series and the various comics including Lucifer and The Unwritten.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
October 2, 2021
The Girl with All the Gifts (The Girl With All the Gifts #1), M.R. Carey

The Girl with All the Gifts is a science-fiction novel by M.R. Carey, published in June 2014 by Orbit Books, based on his 2013 Edgar Award nominated short story Iphigenia In Aulis and written concurrently with the screenplay for the 2016 film.

It deals with a dystopian future in which most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی ام ماه ژانویه سال 2017میلادی

عنوان: دختری با تمام موهبت‌ها؛ نویسنده: مایک کری؛ مترجم: بهنام حاجی زاده؛ سمانه افشار حاتم؛ ویراستار نیما کهندانی؛ تهران، نشر بهداد، 1395؛ در دو جلد؛ شابک دوره 9786008203407؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده ی 21م

ملانی دختری بسیار ویژه است؛ دکتر «کالدول» به او می‌گوید: «نابغه‌ ی کوچک ما»؛ هر روز صبح، «ملانی» در سلولش در انتظار می‌ماند، تا بیایند، و او را به کلاسش ببرند.؛ آنگاه که به دنبال او می‌آیند، گروهبان «پارکس»، تفنگش را به سمت «ملانی» نشانه می‌رود، و دو نفر دیگر از آدم‌هایش، «ملانی» را به یک صندلی چرخ‌دار می‌بندند.؛ می‌اندیشد که آن‌ها از او خوش‌شان نمی‌آید.؛ به شوخی می‌گوید: گاز نمی‌گیرد ولی آن‌ها نمی‌خندند.؛ «ملانی» عاشق کلاس درس است.؛ عاشق یاد گرفتن است، عاشق هجی کردن کلمات، حساب‌ و کتاب، دنیای بیرون از کلاس درس، و سلول بچه‌ هاست.؛ به معلم محبوبش، درباره‌ ی کارهایی می‌گوید، که وقتی بزرگ شود، انجام خواهد داد.؛ «ملانی» نمی‌داند چرا این حرف‌ها، خانم «جاستینا» را غمگین می‌کند...؛

دختری با تمام موهبت‌ها؛ از آن دسته کتاب‌‌هایی است، که با محوریت زامبی‌ها نگاشته شده است؛ داستان با شرح حال «ملانی» آغاز می‌شود؛ دختری نابغه و باهوش، که در مرکزی ویژه آموزش‌ می‌بیند، هرچند با ایشان، و سایر دانش‌آموزان بیشتر شبیه به زندانی‌ها رفتار می‌شود؛ هر کدامشان شب‌ها در سلول‌هایی جداگانه می‌خوابند، و برای حضور در کلاس، به شیوه ‌ای ویژه دست و پا، و سرهای آنها به صندلی‌ چرخ‌دار بسته می‌شود، تا نتوانند هیچ حرکت اضافی داشته باشند، و تحت مراقبت، به کلاس درس برده می‌شوند؛ با پیشرفت داستان، خوانشگر با فضایی که «ملانی» در آن قرار دارد، آشنا می‌شود، از برهان رفتارها سر در می‌آورد، به مرور به ماهیت «ملانی» و سایر دانش‌آموزان پی می‌برد؛ و به پاسخ این پرسشها می‌رسد، که چرا «ملانی» آنجاست، پدر و مادرش کجا هستند؟، و چه بر سر دنیای اطرافشان آمده است؟؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 23/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 09/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
August 19, 2017
I've never read a zombie book before. Why I read this one was because a review said it was female-oriented and that got me interested. I was delighted that all the strong characters were women, and not women who were aping male characteristics or subject to the ultimate control of a male. It was interesting that the author is male, but not surprising. The best ever characterisation of a woman I have ever read is the monologue by a woman who has just lost her boyfriend and freaks in a way only girls do in A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James who if he keeps this up will one day win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Anyway back to the Girl with all the Gifts. I enjoyed it. I didn't mind that Melanie was childishly innocent in some ways but acted as an adult when action was needed as that's quite normal for children's books. What really spoiled the book for me was the incredibly stupid ending.

So Melanie makes her choice to infect the whole world with the fungus that turned the first generation into zombies and the second one into flesh-eating zombies who retained their human consciousness. They would be able learn to control their zombie-nature (unless hungry) and their sentient side could run the world that the humans had left them.

There were just so many problems with this.

1. So they can eat cats and dogs. They need to get with the programme super quick to breed kitties and puppies or else they are going to starve to death as they don't eat each other and there are no humans left (except Miss Justineau, the teacher).

2. Those that don't starve to death might well go on to have babies themselves. Or rather a baby. Since the method of birth for these half-zombies is that the baby eats the mother's innards and is born like that, a lot of the half-zombie women aren't going to be that keen on getting pregnant. As only one baby can be born per mother and there is only a small population of these half-zombies to start with, they aren't even going to replace the population, let alone grow it.

3. Miss Justineau was a primary school teacher of geography and Greek myths. Hardly the technology that was going to enable the half-zombies to inherit the earth and all the wonders of the 21st century, like transport, communications or even how fix Miss Justineau's survival devices should they go wrong. If they went wrong, one or more of the half-zombies would be sure to eat her and then that would be that. They'd all be feral again.

I really don't like books that put in endings that make sense at first sight but then are totally implausible when you think about it.

So it's really .3.5 star book, but since I liked the film better than the book, in part because Melanie was black and there are so few black characters in films that have nothing to do with comedy, the ghetto, oppression, crime or general angst and yet nothing is made of their race, it gets another half star. Iknow that Miss Justineau was black in the book and played by a white actress, but hers was the supporting role and Melanie the action-woman, genius-iq heroine.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,640 reviews598 followers
May 18, 2014
To be fair to this book, it is not really the sort of thing I would normally read – however, it was chosen by my book club and the initial description looked quite promising. Melanie is ten and, when we meet her, she is in a base – her entire world consisting of her cell, a corridor, a shower room and a classroom. Five days a week, Melanie is strapped into a wheelchair, fastened securely and wheeled into the classroom where she, and her fellow classmates are taught. Melanie is a bright and engaging little girl, who has an enormous crush on one of her teachers, Miss Helen Justineau. However, we are obviously aware that things are seriously not right and the world as we know it has changed beyond recognition. Although Melanie is content enough with the world that she knows, she is concerned when two children from her class suddenly disappear; taken by the aggressive Sergeant Parks to Dr Caroline Caldwell’s lab, never to return.

Although this begins as an interesting dystopian novel, it soon descends into a fairly basic zombie story and, once I fell in with the plot, my heart began to sink. A group of characters, including the doctor, the teacher Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and a young private Kieran Gallagher, plus Melanie, find themselves on the run in a hostile environment. The strong female characters in a genre which is very male oriented led the story in a more interesting way and Melanie’s realisation of who, and what, she is, is very well done. However, I found it difficult to retain interest in the plot and it did become rather wearing, and rather ridiculous, towards the end. By far the strongest part of the novel is at the beginning, when you are not sure of why Melanie is being kept and caged like a laboratory animal. Towards the middle it became rather a slog to the finish and I got to the end with relief. Still, if you do like this kind of zombie horror book, with a more female slant, then this might be for you, but the book as a whole does not live up to the premise it suggests.

Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.5k followers
March 31, 2019
i love science fiction books. and i love dystopian plots. so why cant i seem to get behind zombie stories? :(

my mediocre rating for this has nothing to do with it being a bad book, because it really isnt. its because, for some reason, my eyes inexplicably glaze over every time i read about zombies. they just arent for me. aliens? sure. vampires? why not. but zombies? ughhh.

although the content isnt my cup of tea, there is a lot to enjoy about this. the writing is so strong, with such a precise foundation, it allows the world building to be so detailed and thorough. there is also a really natural flow about it that, even though the story is quite fast paced, it doesnt feel rushed. i can also appreciate the creativity to make the main character of a zombie story about 10 year old girl, who happens to be the zombie. its puts a unique twist on the survival theme.

and while all these components are great, and i can understand why i have seen so many positive reviews for this, they couldnt completely overrule my lack of enjoyment for zombies. so this is a very unfortunate case of being a ‘its me, not you’ kind of book.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Baba.
3,560 reviews856 followers
March 27, 2022
Believe the hype. Completely and utterly un-put-down-able. Melanie who has never seen the sun, but has attended school all her life, and loves her teacher Miss Justineau, is awakened every morning by soldiers and at gunpoint. An exquisite dystopian road trip from hell, through hell, to hell! 9 out of 12.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
December 10, 2020

New week, New BookTube Video - all about the best (and worst) literary apocalypses to live through!
The Written Review

Confession: I saw the movie before reading the book

The movie was on Netflix and I already made popcorn and I had just about seen nearly every single zombie movie available. I know, I know. That's no excuse. Forgive me.

Since I saw the movie first, I went into this book with clear conceptions on how this will play out.

Thus, I expected a character similar to Sennia Nanua, who plays a marvelous Melanie, Thus I was more than a little surprised that Melanie turned out to really be a little white girl who began the book by marveling at how pale her skin was (just like a princess). Luckily, the marveling at her whiteness was just a passing thought (as a way, I assume, for the author to allude that she's actually dead-pale. Corpse-colored) but for a minute there, I was seriously questioning if I was going to finish this book.

Overall, a quick and fun read. The zombie apocalypse is quickly becoming a tired tirade yet Carey revitalizes it (somewhat) by using a fungal system for the causation and procreation of his version of zombies. Don't think too hard on the science (especially for the movie. A vaccine for a fungal infection.)

Audiobook Comments
Read by Finty Williams. The audio was pretty well-done but it did feel a bit monotone at times.

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Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,415 followers
January 9, 2018
Despite the gushing praise this book has been receiving -- including a blurb by Joss Whedon -- I approached The Girl With All the Gifts with a fair amount of trepidation. I'm a zombie traditionalist at heart, which means my foray into "experimental" zombie fiction -- literary or otherwise -- has met with mixed results. I normally don't like my zombies to talk, fall in love or have existential crises. Hell, I don't even want my zombies to run; I'm all about the Romero shuffle (though there was something truly terrifying and unsettling about Danny Boyle's fast-moving zombies that scared the piss out of me). Even for a traditionalist like me, there's exceptions to every rule. And I found a few more buried like awesome treasure in the pages of M.R Carey's novel.

In case you didn't know, M.R Carey is the not so cryptic pen name for the super-talented Mike Carey. This gentleman knows how to tell a story, where the pulse points live and when to go for the jugular. He also knows that without giving the reader characters to care about your story is gonna have all the pop of a wet firecracker.

A lot of what we get here we've seen before. The world is in the shitter. The zombies (or hungries in this case) have risen up and wiped out humanity. It's about twenty years later and our entry point into the story starts at a fortified base that doubles as a research lab. There are doctors and soldiers, fences and guns. But there are also civilian teachers and children who are their students. And here's where the story takes a bit of a twist: If you do not want to know anything else about this book then beware some mild spoilers ahead under the spoiler tag

Like a lot of my favorite zombie stories, this one soon slides into the 'group in peril' scenario. A rag tag group of survivors, including Melanie, are left to fend for themselves beyond the safety of the fences where the hungries thrive. Where will they go and what will they have to do in order to get there in one piece?

I love the chemistry of this group and the characterization. They all start out as stereotypes but as the story moves along, each of them evolves from an archetype into a real person with depth and distinctive personalities. I'm a sucker for character, and I felt I got it in spades here. Another rewarding aspect is the time spent describing the zombie virus. Usually the answer to what makes a zombie even possible is ignored, but not so here. Carey offers up a pretty interesting scenario that for me anyway, leads to a very satisfying climax.

Is this a perfect read? Nope. There are a few incredulous moments and a few places where the narrative dips and nearly stalls; however those instances are rare. For the most part this is cinematic zombie gold. It's a heady mix of tension and release, adrenaline and emotion. A must-read for all zombie lovers and the zombie curious.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,574 reviews5,904 followers
December 19, 2014
Buddy read with the moistest awesome... My drinking buddy Mitchell, Kelly Goldblum and The Book pusher Ed

I had this review all planned out in my head. Then I went to sleep and it's gone. Getting old sucks, kids.

This may be kinda spoilery so read at your own caution. It's hard to not say anything about the book. I went into it blind and that might be the best way to head into it. I didn't even realize it was a zombie book-and don't get me wrong I likes some zombies but I've kinda taken a break from them-cuz everybody and their daddy is writing people eater books.

Anyways: You have this group of kids that are being "taught school" on a army base. Umm yeah. While you have a crazy doctor trying to find a cure for a fungus aka experimenting on them.

The kids are pretty smart. They don't realize that they are any different than normal kids. (Unless they smell them)

Sometimes I need to eat people. I never want to.

Melanie is the smartest of the kids and I have to admit, the kid grew on me.

The book reads on the young side except there is some gross shit that happens. Which I liked. It's a frigging zombie book people! Back off me.

Look how sweet some of it is:

Growing up and growing old. Playing. Exploring. Like Pooh and Piglet. And then like the Famous Five. And then like Heidi and Anne of Green Gables. And then like Pandora, opening the great big box of the world and not being afraid, not even caring whether what's inside is good or bad. Because it's both. Everything is always both.
But you have to open it to find that out.

I don't see how this was a nominee for best horror book though. I read lots of horror and this wasn't it. I think I would classify it more as Sci-fi, because there is a shit load of world building in it.

I received an arc copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,030 reviews1,045 followers
February 6, 2017
Possibly 4.5 stars!

Wow! Certainly one of the most unique, most original books I have read and I won’t do it injustice by spoiling it for other readers or giving away any hint as to what this book is about. I suggest for those who haven’t read it to read it blind. This is one of those books that you’ll appreciate more when you know less about it before reading. And as much as I would want to classify this book, I feel like it would be irreverent of me to dub the book as this clichéd genre because even though it could be pegged as such, it’s so much more than it is.

I honestly think the premise of the novel is utter genius. The author is an expert at breaking the reader’s heart by creating a completely loveable complex character. Make the reader see the world after a breakdown in her innocent but hopeful and imaginative eyes. Make her selfless and talented and compassionate and then damn! I should really stop now or else I’ll be breaking my promise in the previous paragraph.

The writing is completely enthralling and thought provoking, the plot very gripping and highly philosophical and the characters deliberately well selected and fleshed out. All my heart goes to Melanie who I want to wrap in cocoon of care and love (just let me apply what’s that chemical stuff called again? all over my skin). The “scienc-y” elements are also fascinating and I have to admit I was truly, completely glued in to the novel.

The abrupt ending is probably my only complaint although it still gives the entire story much sense and perhaps, poetic justice. I was just probably rooting for a more civilized way of wrapping it up but with the plot, the overall tone and structure of the story, who am I kidding? I am looking forward to seeing the movie. Hopefully it’s as good as the book.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
June 13, 2017
“You can’t save people from the world. There’s nowhere else to take them.”

4.5 out of 5 stars

This book. I might change my mind and give it 5 stars. I'm not sure. It's not an immediate favourite, but I loved it to pieces.

I don't like zombies. I don't like horror. But I do like my fair share of thrill, mystery and intrigue. And this was intriguing as hell.
Originally the plot threw me off. Until I saw the trailer. I just had to get hold of this book.

It's a very character driven novel, exploring feelings and testing relationships. Many criticize a weak or boring plot, but I didn't think so. I felt it was just right.
As I already said, the characters really made this book. Melanie is a hero, super smart and far from human. You can't not root for her.
Mrs. Justineau is her badass and loving teacher, her idol, and the two would do anything to protect each other. And they do.
Sergeant Parks is a dick. A dick with surprising character developemt.
Doctor Caldwell wants to find a cure, against all odds. This is what makes her dangerous, since you never know what to expect of her.
Private Gallagher is who I would be in a situation like this. He tries to keep his wits together, but in reality he's as scared as one can be when faced with mindless, half-rotten bodies who want to bite a big chunk out of your throat.
It's those 5 characters and how they grow on each other (or don't) that fascinated me. Especially how they treated Melanie, and the fact that she was a threat, but simultaneously a chance for their survival.

The ending

In a nutshell: One of my favourite reads this year. Disgusting and fascinating at the same time. But the fascination won in the end.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,006 reviews36k followers
June 10, 2016
Ten year old Melanie, a bright curious, lovable child looks forward to the days that
Miss Justineau teaches class. She never knows what day that might be, but whatever day that is-- is the happiest of all.
Melanie notices that Miss Justineau is different from other teachers. For one thing she is always wearing 'something' which is 'red' in color. Melanie notices everything about Miss Justineau. Melanie especially loves the Greek Mythology stories that Miss Justineau reads the class. She learns that Pandora is the expressed to mean "The Girl With All The Gifts"....( as to open the box and release evil in the world)

Melanie, and other children around her age, wait in their caged-imprisoned room, until the Military guards come and strap them to a wheelchair and take them to class.
A secure Military facility is holding these children - testing them - trying to find a cure for a fungal parasite that they are carrying. The entire surroundings is infected -highly populated with "The Hungries" ....who's mission is to kill and feed on humans.

Melanie has the same parasite as the other children --- but just as there seems to be something a little different about her favorite teacher, Miss Justineau, she, too, is different. She just might have her 'own' special gifts!!! :)

I know many people have read this before me - have said its a horror' -- a 'zombie apocalypse book --- ( it is and it's pretty gory, too) -- but there is something so completely enthralling and fantastic about this book ... I HAD NO IDEA...
Why didn't other's tell me??? Oh... a few of you did!

I loved the ending!
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,463 reviews9,618 followers
October 4, 2015

I have had this book for quite sometime and just now getting it finished! It is very nice to finally get to a book and love it so much. I did read reviews before I got the book so I already know it's a zombie book and you will too if you read mine or anyone else review.

But...wow.. there is fungus among us.. Yeah, I said that and not I'm not going to talk about it! :)

These poor kids are brought in during the week to their class all strapped down in chairs. I thought, what in God's green Earth is going on here. The kids learn just like anyone else. Some are way more sophisticated than others. They have one really sweet teacher named Miss Justineau, she is so good with these kids. One of the children, Melanie, loves her so much and Miss Justineau is very fond of her too.

There is an evil lady in the place named Dr. Caldwell. I understand why she does what she does, but there has to be another way or something for Pete's sake! Also, the kids are surrounded by the military. They are the ones that strap them down and cart them around.

Anyhoo, some stuff goes down with the junkers (the jerks that survive by being idiots) and everyone from the lab all either get killed or who ever can get way from the lab gets out however they can. Melanie, Miss Justineau, Dr. Caldwell, Sergeant Parks and Private Gallagher get out and end up together, unfortunately, not all of them make it.

BTW, the zombies in the book are called the hungries, I thought that was great. Now if someone would make one can call them the munchies, we will be complete! :)

I loved this book and I loved certain characters! I really wish there would be another one, but this one ended on a happy note ..mostly. There could still be a possibility for another book if the author decides to make one. :)

Profile Image for Reynita ★ The Night Reader ★.
123 reviews939 followers
March 29, 2019

Melanie sometimes says, "I won't bite." she says it as a joke, but Sergeant's people never laugh.

this book tells us about a 10 year old kid named Melanie. She is very smart little girl and she lives in an army base. She has a favorite teacher, her name is Miss Justineau, Helen Justineau and she always loves whichever day Miss Justineau teaches. but one day, something happens to this army base. Hungries are inside the army base and they start eating people and there are bad guys too so all the survivors in this attack are forced to flee from the army base and now they all have to survive to reach their destination place.

why does Melanie live in an army base? what happens at the army base? how could Melanie end up living in army base? who are the survivors? how many people? do they all survive in the end? where should they go now? where is their destination place?

well, of course if you want to know the answers of those questions you have to read it.

now I'm gonna tell you why I gave this book 4 stars :

The Plot

actually, I read this book a month ago but I put it aside for a while because I was not in the mood to read this book but then few days ago, I decided to read it again and I have to admit that I was a little bit bored when I read the beginning of the book. it was just plain and it didn't really catch my interest but I kept reading and reading and then BOOM! the action scene appeared and I was both scared and excited.

I even kept reading this book from night till dawn. I JUST COULD NOT STOP and if I remember correctly, there was rain in my town at night while I read this book and I have never felt afraid of thunder or lighting but I somehow felt afraid of everything when I read this book. like when I heard something outside my house ( probably just a cat ) all the scary thoughts came to my mind and it was also raining so I kept reading this book while my heart was pounding so hard and I also kept thinking like " what about if that sound was something else? what about if zombies or hungries are real? "
well, I got scared very easily while reading this book.

The Characters

I had a quite hard time to like all of the characters but there is one character that I can't help to hate. you'll know who and why when you start reading it. this person annoyed me so much and I really wanted to punch this person but I actually felt sorry for this person before this person annoyed me so often.
and I guess, I got connected to all the characters except that person when I reached half of the book. they started growing on me like I knew them and I was comfortable to see them and they were not plain characters. well, I just felt like I knew them and I went along the journey with them.

I don't know what to say anymore about this book so just let me rock back and forth in the corner. bye. bye. I am already dead inside
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,030 reviews2,604 followers
July 29, 2019
5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...

I confess, I’m not very good when it comes to pulling information out of book descriptions. But all I know is, when I first heard about The Girl with All The Gifts, it piqued my interest right away. Here you have a story about a bright young girl named Melanie, who for some reason everyone seems deathly afraid of. Being held at gun-point while being strapped into a wheelchair just to go to class? Judging by level of paranoia with which she’s treated, you’d think little Melanie was Hannibal Lecter. The book jacket may be a little scarce on details, but there’s definitely something strange going on.

So it really shouldn’t have surprised me when this book turned out to be Horror, and yet it did. Finding out about the genre, however, just made me even more excited to read it. And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, OH HELLO, THEY DO!

By now, I gather it’s pretty safe to explain why I had myself a personal little freak-out when it hit me just what I was in for with this story. After all, the revelation comes very early on in the novel and is hardly a spoiler, not to mention the book has been out in the UK for months now and the cat is out of the bag. But avert your eyes now if you would prefer to know absolutely ZIP about the book going in. Anyway, my excitement levels exploded when I realized that The Girl with All The Gifts…has zombies.

And I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. What makes this a great zombie book – a great book, PERIOD – is the science. Ah, gotta love science. Like I always say, if you want to see some scary stuff, look no further than Mother Nature. Heck, some of the most frightening, bone-chilling things I’ve ever seen in film aren’t in horror movies, but are in those dang Planet Earth documentaries. Who could forget the “Jungles” episode and the importance of fungi as illustrated by the life cycle of Ophiocordyceps unilatertalis? Oh, the sheer horror of watching the parasite take over an ant’s brain before the fruiting body explodes out of the back of its victim’s head, all while Sir David Attenborough goes on calmly narrating in those smooth, dulcet tones. That sequence was beyond traumatizing – but also fascinating. I remember being obsessed with the idea, thinking to myself, holy crap, someone pleeeeease write a zombie book based around this!

Well, even though the video game The Last of Us might have done it first, M.R. Carey ended up granting me my wish. And he does it in such a spectacular way, wrapping this fantastic idea around a story filled with mystery, action, and lots of gut-wrenching heartbreak. The Girl with All The Gifts is everything I look for in a zombie book – tight, energetic pacing with all the savagery, suspense and tension – but it’s also so much more. For me, this book is the next step in zombie fiction, delivering on the survival and post-apocalyptic elements we all know and love, while pushing the envelope with new ideas and deep characterization.

Due to its nature, it’s not surprising that the zombie-apocalypse survival subgenre tends to feature ruthlessness and characters with hard hearts who show no pity. But seeing the themes of mercy and compassion enter into the equation here is a nice change of pace. A lot of this is due to Melanie. If you also guessed from the description that there’s something different about her character, you’d be correct. Melanie is definitely a special little girl, and she’s part of what makes this book such an exceptional, atypical zombie novel and such a joy for me to read.

Even though I can probably go on for another couple pages about why I loved this book, I really don’t want to give too much away. There are lots of surprises, including an unpredictable ending that truly stunned me. I loved this book to pieces. Haunting, powerful and poignant, The Girl with All The Gifts is a novel I would recommend highly and without reservation.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,538 followers
January 23, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“Then like Pandora, opening the great big box of the world and not being afraid, not even caring whether what’s inside is good or bad. Because it’s both. Everything is always both. But you have to open it to find that out.”

Melanie has been a prisoner for a long time. All of her days are the same. Guards come to her cell, strap her securely into a chair and wheel her down the hall . . . . to a classroom? Obviously Melanie isn’t your average student – and neither are any of the others in her class.

Although The Girl With All The Gifts had been on my to-read list for months, I had no intention of reading it anytime soon. I tried requesting an electronic version of this book (a paper version wasn’t available) from the library and waited FOR.EV.ER. When my turn finally came up, guess what? The format wasn’t Kindle friendly, so I decided to say screw it and ease on down the road to the other eleventy billion books on my list. But then Easy E and One Wicked Witch strong-armed me into a buddy read and even offered to supply the damn thing for me. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I knew nothing about this book going in . . . except that it had been nominated as “Best Horror” in the Goodreads awards, that ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-NINE of my friends had already read it, and that the average rating from those friends was 3.94. My thoughts upon starting? “Ruh roh, Shaggy, someone’s gonna hurt me if I don’t like this one.”

My rating wavered at either a 2 or a 4 throughout the entire book. The good stuff was goooooood, but there was quite a bit of “meh” along with it.

I think both Edward and Shelby are going to differ from me on this one, but I seriously dug Melanie’s voice (except I thought it read around the 7-year old age mark rather than 10). Having this story told from the eyes of a small child helped serve up a little of the creepout factor I was craving . . . but then we started getting a military perspective, and a teacher’s perspective and a doctor’s perspective and I was all

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I had the same reaction to the science and the world building. The “it’s the end of the world as we know it” vibe was strong and I motored right along through the “prison” and then beyond. And beyond. And beyond. And beyond. By the time these folks got done walking even my feet hurt. This tactic either works or it doesn’t. In this case (for me at least) it was overkill. There’s only so many times a reader should need a description of the landscape – if they still don’t get it after the umpteenth time it’s their problem, not the author’s. Same goes for scientific mumbo-jumbo. 9 times out of 10 some d-bag will pop up crying foul that “science doesn’t work that way.” Sometimes it’s best to just gloss over things and stop with all the talky-talky.

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Alright, so there are my complaints. Now on to the good stuff. The bad guys were baaaaaaad. And fast. There were no lumbering halfwits roaming around. They may have been stupid, but they were going to catch you . . .

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and then they would eat the hell out of you like you were the G.D. Sizzler.

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“The hungries smell you, and then they chase you until they eat you. They can’t stop themselves.”


There was also a grey area. Bad wasn’t exclusively bad and good wasn’t exclusively good. And one of the baddest might just end up being one of the goodest (just go with it) . . .

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Inappropriate humor. I love it and this book has it:

“She dodged through all kinds of irrelevant thoughts. A poem in a book: ‘I love little kitty, her coat is so warm. And if I don’t hurt her, she’ll do me no harm.’ She didn’t love little kitty all that much. Little kitty didn’t taste half as nice as the two men she ate back at the base.”

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And finally, if you’ve bothered to glance at any reviews you had to have noticed comments about the ending. While the ending didn’t come as a huge surprise to me, I did still enjoy it and was glad it didn’t end up being a massive cop-out kind of wrap up I feared it would be around the halfway point.

So there you go folks. I’m giving this one a 3 because my opinion was one extreme or the other. However, EVERYONE liked this book so if you’ve been thinking about it, you should definitely give it a go.

EDIT - I forgot to included the best zombie link ever:

Profile Image for carol..
1,535 reviews7,871 followers
October 3, 2015
One mark of a great book is how it plays with reader expectations. The strategy of taking a conventional genre story and turning it sideways often works. Sometimes it can fail, coming across as little more than a clever gimmick. But sometimes it succeeds beyond imagining, particularly in the hands of an author with talent like Carey’s. The Girl With All the Gifts uses lovely prose to explore the growth of ten year old Melanie, a child of the apocalypse who seems to be shuttled between a cell, a classroom and a shower.

It is a story about discovery. Melanie is particularly fond of Miss Justineau, a teacher who exposes them to wonderful ideas: Greek stories and mythology, playing a flute, the kings and queens of England, and even the population of all the British cities (allowing her to figure probable population density, but she has the feeling her figures need to be updated). The day they read the Light Brigade (presumably The Charge of the Light Brigade) and start asking Miss Justineau about death, and families, and ideas spark.

“Melanie knows her classmates well enough to be sure that they’re turning Miss Justineau’s words over and over in their minds, the same way she is–shaking them and worrying at them, to see what insights might fall out. Because the one thing they never learn about, really, is themselves.“

It is a story about a innocence. We learn about Melanie the same way that she does; in bits and pieces as she assembles the puzzle of her world around her. Her day always begins in her cell, with Melanie sitting in a wheelchair, waiting for the Sergeant to point his gun at her while his two soldiers buckle straps around her wrists, ankles and neck. She’s wheeled into a classroom with other kids who appear to be similarly restrained. As Melanie describes her teacher, the facility, the relationships around her, both she and the reader start to build the world. Perhaps the reader will draw inferences faster than Melanie, being older, more experienced, and more cynical. An interesting tension is created as the reader waits to see if her conclusions are correct.

It is a story of contrasts. In the beginning, the austerity of the cells and the barrenness of the compound countered in the moments Melanie is exposed to the outdoor world. Early on, when Miss Justineau brings spring flowers into the classroom for the first time: “The children are hypnotised. It’s spring in the classroom. It’s equinox, with the world balanced between winter and summer, life and death, like a spinning ball balanced on the tip of someone’s finger.”

It is also a story of identity. Narrative is largely Melanie’s experience, but there are also chances to experience the world from the perspectives of Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and Dr. Caldwell. The characters come to discover and learn to define themselves, leading to moments of profound awareness: “The second is that some things become true simply by being spoken. When she said to the little girl ‘I’m here for you’, the architecture of her mind, her definition of herself, shifted and reconfigured around that statement. She became committed, or maybe just acknowledged a commitment. It has nothing to do with guilt for earlier crimes (although she has a pretty fair understanding of what she deserves), or any hope of redemption. It’s just the outermost point on an arc. She’s risen as far as she can, and now she’s falling again, no longer in control (if she ever was to start with) of her own movements.”

Yet despite the engrossing story, I have, perhaps, two issues with the book. First, Melanie’s voice feels mature, even though it lacks sophistication in interpretation. I’m not a giant fan of books starring a young protagonist, so while it is hard to precisely identify the source of discontent, I feel fairly certain it is there. Secondly, the ending was not precisely satisfying. However, I’m willing to give Carey that one; after all; it was appropriate as well as consistent with his genre-challenge.

I’ve never made any secret of being a fan. In my old age, I’m finally allowing myself to be unabashedly enthusiastic. The Girl with All the Gifts is one of those rare genre entries that will satisfy most readers regardless of their feelings about

“And then like Pandora, opening the great big box of the world and not being afraid, not even caring whether what’s inside is good or bad. Because it’s both. Everything is always both.
But you have to open it to find that out.“

Thanks to NetGalley and Orbit Books for providing me an advance e-reader copy. Quotes are taken from a galley copy and are subject to change in the published edition.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,559 reviews2,312 followers
July 31, 2017
The Girl with All the Gifts (The Girl With All The Gifts #1) by M.R. Carey is a book I have been seeing on Goodreads and my son asked if I had heard of it because he watched the movie. He said the movie was great. I decided right then I had to read this book. I really didn't know to much about it, just the blurb and that everyone enjoyed it. I really, really enjoyed the book but the ending was a bit...weird. Good weird. Stuff to think about...heavy thinking at the end of the book is my kind of fantasy/sci-fi!
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