Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award 2014
Not every gift is a blessing.
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 favourite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up.
Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, The Girl with all the Gifts is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will listen to this year.
The phenomenal word-of-mouth best seller The Girl with all the Gifts is now a major film on widespread distribution starring Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine.
©2014 M. R. Carey (P)2014 Hachette Audio
"A great read that takes hold of you and doesn´t let go." (John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of Let The Right One In)
"Brilliant... Gripping right to the end." (Sunday Times best-selling author Carole Matthews)
Having listened to hundreds of audiobooks, this is the first review that I've written … and I'm doing so only because my opinion is so at odds with the two-and-a-half stars that this book has been awarded so far.
I found this a thoroughly gripping and thought-provoking tale; a highly original take on, to be honest, a somewhat hackneyed genre. (I won't mention the genre, as the part of the joy is the gradual unfolding of the protagonist's identity.)
The characters are satisfyingly rounded and the plot both engaging and pacey. From the outset through to the final few minutes, I had no idea of the book's conclusion and, when it finally came, I was far from disappointed.
Mention must also go to Finty Williams for some beautiful characterisation and a warm and textured performance.
So, if I’m waxing so lyrical about this production, why has it been so poorly received elsewhere? Well, I have to admit that it's not the book I had anticipated; and this is due to the necessarily vague publisher’s description. (As I mentioned earlier, giving too much away at the beginning would leach the joy from the first section of the book). So, like me, perhaps other listeners didn’t end up with the book they’d anticipated but, unlike me, found themselves in too much of an unfamiliar setting to enjoy their surroundings.
So, without giving too much away, what you get in the box is, ostensibly, a somewhat bleak post-apocalyptic drama, laced with plenty of warmth to balance the grit and revolving around an intriguingly textured central character. I hope that you find the surprises as pleasing as I did.
I get bored quickly so take ages choosing my books. Preferred authors are Sanderson, Rothfuss, Abercrombie, tho' C Harris makes me laugh too
I really struggle sometimes to find a book that hits the spot. Having been spoiled with Sanderson and Rothfuss, whose epic fantasies tick every box, it's regularly hard to find a viable alternative. This book was it. Not a true fantasy by my standards, rather it's of the apocalyptic variety.
Enough new stuff to keep me interested - and keep me thinking. Well written too. One of those books that will stay with me for many years, I'm sure.
It has a slight shock factor - probably hits different people at different stages. Well narrated.
Certainly worth a credit - even if not your normal genre.
I run a Gallery in the Lake District with my husband. This gives me a lot of opportunity to listen to audio books.
time to think
My house has never been so clean, I made up jobs to carry on listening, The whole concept of what we could become
I have not stopped thinking about the play of characters since I finished this. I forgot time and place and lost myself in this book.
Eclectic taste in audiobooks, with a particular thirst to discover Classics I'd never get around to reading in physical book format!
Right up there, I couldn't switch it off, kept saying to myself, "just one more chapter" and always ended up listening to more than that, so it only lasted 2 days!
The action in the lab while the characters are still at the base, and the central protagonist i.e. the first character we're introduced to and asked to view the story through her eyes, is in mortal peril, and I had no idea how she'd get out of it or where the story would go from there. Brilliant, fast-moving action which never dulls for a second. Never read anything by M.R. Carey (or whoever he is behind the pen-name) before, but definitely will seek his novels out from now on - witty, intelligent, compassionate.
A really solid, professional narrator. Takes the story seriously, gives each of the characters equal weight and doesn't try to steer the listener towards seeing any one of them as more or less villainous or heroic than the others. Subtle and steady narration which was very easy to follow (even for the long scientific descriptions which I didn't totally understand but got the gist, and how they suited the rigid character of Dr. Caldwell). Seeing a book is narrated by Finty Williams gives me confidence in the quality.
The title itself is already a great tagline in the way it alludes to Pandora, and the mystery behind Melanie.
Really well written, excellent descriptions, absorbing changes of narrative perspective between characters for almost every chapter. Shares similarities with Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, particularly at the beginning, as well as countless Zombie horror movies, and apocalyptic fiction. Really accessible even if you don't normally like the genre. Just a great read.
Not my normal sort of read but this was a class act and I am so glad I followed the recommendation. My only complaint and it shows how picky I am, was the use of the word "Hungries" it just jagged a bit. The hard hitting story being told with the child view to the front makes the whole much more sinister and disturbing.
The end is to die for, loads of pun intended. I had not seen that coming.
Not sure if there could ever be a sequel or prequel. I can but hope.
Slight surprise was to find out the author was a man. I had assumed it was a female author all the way through. Now I need to find out who M R Carey really is.
Basically this a great read and I would recommend to anyone, provided they are OK with a bit of horror and gore.
Nice one M R
I loved everything about this book. The story was gripping from start to finish, the characterisation pulled me in from the beginning and Carey rapidly built a world I wanted to know more about. The genre was familiar but this was such a different take that it never felt clichéd, and the very British nature of the story also made it more haunting for me. And the ending - perfect.
I had never heard this narrator before but she captured the voices and the tone perfectly and really added to the novel.
I admit that I was sad that there was no new Felix Castor but if this is an example of what we can expect from Carey in the future then I'm very happy indeed.
Yes, definitely. You immediately get drawn into the main characters and I finished the book in 24 hrs
Actually the teacher. I found her to be both likeable and naive.
The pace of the narration was perfect as was the pitch. I was extremely content to listen for hours on end.
Yes. I cried at the end. Not giving anything away but it was a satisfactory ending.
If I had realised what this story was about I would NOT have chosen it....
It was only once I was into the story that I slowly started to realise that Melanie wasn't normal, nor was her environment. Something made me continue to listen and I became more and more engrossed!
I ended up listening avidly to the whole book and eagerly returning for more.
I really enjoyed it and, as I said at the begining, I would not have chosen it or anything of this ilk....very pleasantly surprised!
I was a skeptic of audible books, but I've been won over! I listen to my books everywhere, even while cooking. Audible is a perfect escape!
Top 3, definitely!!
Miss Justanou because she identified, accepted and sought to protect the childlike innocence of Melanie despite the danger of Melanie's nature.
Yes, definitely yes!! She almost had a distinct voice for each character and through the appropriate voice she reflected their intended character extremely well!!
I don't know.
An unexpected story, I wouldn't normally listen to a book where the main character is a child, but this was a real surprise as a fast moving story with an original theme
Well worth a read !
I haven't read the print version, but I thoroughly enjoyed the audio. There were some fantastic quotables that I would have liked to underline or at least page back to, but otherwise I'm quite satisfied.
No, but I enjoyed this performance.
Carey writes so touchingly about Melanie that my heart wants to break. I adore how she gets the reader closer and closer to her characters. The characters are also fallible, and sometimes downright unlikeable, but generally not stereotypically so. They seem human. Sometimes Dr Caldwell seemed a bit like the Mad Scientist stereotype, though...
I listen to a lot of audiobooks, in lots of different genres, and every now and then you come across one that is extra good. And I have to say 'The Girl with Al the Gifts' is really quite wonderful.
It's really well written, and the narration is perfect. I loved everything about it!
"Not what I expected... but enjoyable non the less"
It does add to the rhythm of the book
Melanie, obviously. She is very interesting, and changes throughout the book.
Dr. Caldwell - I could actually see and hear Glen Close in her portrayal of her.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, which surprised me as I'm not usually a fan of this genre. It kept me listening when I should have been doing other things. The story was great, the writing very good, the narration superb - well done Flinty Williams - and the ending totally 'right'.
"The walking, talking dead"
I went into the story with mixed expectations. I'm not usually one for zombies, but I did like the spin this book took on the topic. I listened to the story in audiobook format, and I really enjoyed the narration by Finty Williams.
I found the characters believable and the plot interesting and, at least to me, original. Throughout the book I kept thinking about how the story would end, and how I'd like it to end. I didn't expect the ending that the story had, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I was worried the resolution of the story would have been either catastrophic (in so much as it could, in the context of a zombie apocalypse) or tropy and clishéd. To me, it felt like neither. The conclusion felt very right, and left me satisfied with the story.
"Had the Potential to be so Much More"
The book had a great story and a great progression. What the book lacked was excitement and climactic moments. It really could have been much better.
"Perfect book for horror lovers and not only..."
I would totally recommend this book for a number of reasons.
1. If you're a horror movie lover, this book is perfect for you!
2. Finty William's performance was incredibly good and it really made me feel like I was in the book running from these creepy hungry zombies.
3. The plot is extremely interesting and, that which may appear predictable at the beginning, turns out to be such an original take on the usual zombie post-apocalyptic world.
4. It's got the perfect blend of action, narrative and dialogue.
5. There is no typical perfect hero or heroine, who makes no mistake and who always knows what to do. Instead the protagonists do have flaws as well as good qualities that make them much more relatable.
6. Again, it's like watching, or rather listening, and taking part to a horror movie that is also a thriller and action one.
Just get it!
Yes yes yes! Absolutely, in fact I had to adjust the speed to 1.25x sometimes 1.5x as I was too excited and curious to know what was coming next :D
""I won't hurt you. I just want to examine you.""
Ten-year-old Melanie thinks she's a normal girl (maybe a little better at maths and myths than her classmates) who'll grow up to be a princess and to maybe rescue her beloved teacher Miss Justineau from monsters. To Miss Justineau, Melanie is a special child. To Sergeant Parks, she is a dangerous monster. To Private Gallagher, she is uncanny. To Dr. Caldwell, she is Test Subject Number 1.
That complexity is one of the virtues of M. R. Carey's The Girl with All the Gifts (2014), a zombie genre retelling of the Greek myth about Pandora (whose name, Melanie explains, means "the girl with all the gifts"). All five point of view characters are right and wrong about Melanie, and reading to find out if and how they'll learn they're wrong and right is a suspenseful pleasure--if pleasure is the right word for a story set in a near future twenty years after a parasitic fungus mutated so as to colonize human hosts, commandeering their nervous systems and consuming their brains to turn people into "hungries," virtually mindless predators driven to eat raw meat to provide protein to the fungus, resulting in "the Breakdown" of civilization and the probable eventual extinction of homo sapiens.
Narrated from Melanie's point of view, the first three of seventy-four chapters recall Never Let Me Go, for she is confined to a place with her life organized around classes, and her fellow pupils and she are destined for a special terminal purpose, which her favorite teacher, Miss Justineau, is finding increasingly difficult to deal with. Melanie and her classmates live in small individual cells on a kind of military base. Despite not being free to leave the cellblock, despite not even being able to leave her cell unless she's strapped head and foot to a wheel chair, Melanie has picked up various clues about her world from what her teachers and to Sergeant Parks, who's in charge of the kids' confinement, say. But she still doesn't quite know what she is.
After a band of "junkers," "survivalist assholes" who live by scavenging, pay the base a call, the novel kicks into high page-turning gear. Although Carey includes some typical zombie genre tropes (e.g., the old trapped in a house surrounded by zombies situation), he does most everything with a refreshing, unsparing, and convincing authenticity, while adding enough surprises and fresh takes on the typical tropes to make his book bracing. And because we care about his characters, it's all very suspenseful.
Yes, the strongest part of this novel is its convincing point of view characters, each with their own personal history shaping and driving them, often in conflict with others: Miss Justineau (psychologist brought in to study the children's emotional responses and cognitive processes), Dr. Caldwell (uber scientist out to save homo sapiens via vivisection), scar-faced Sergeant Parks (essential soldier aiming to do his job), Private Gallagher (hapless, gormless, sweet). And wonderful Melanie of course. She wishes her name were Pandora, because she has learnt that Pandora didn't only release harmful things into the world but also some good things and figures that Pandora shouldn't be blamed because Zeus made her with curiosity and set up the whole trap. She's like any kid sensually experiencing and building an overwhelming new world around herself--and she's something very different. She has great presence and poise, fears and bravery.
Carey works in plenty of allusions to Greek/Roman myths (like Acteon) and legends (like The Aeneid). And his similes/metaphors are apt, telling, vivid, fresh, sometimes humorous.
--"The laugh you'd make if you rubbed out a mistake in a sum and accidentally tore the paper."
--"Her first taste of blood and warm flesh gives her a rush of pleasure bigger than she is… the part of her that can think bends in the cataract of mindless pleasure and hunger, and she goes on eating, feeling like a torrent of waterfall poured in a cup."
--Hungries standing still in different stages of decomposition "look like they're posing for paintings."
--"a fine fractal froth" of spores.
It is not a horror fantasy novel so much as a science fiction suspense novel. The biology of the fungus is convincingly detailed, with plenty of scientific language and behavior. As with much of the best sf, it comments on how we live now: "It's like before the breakdown people used to spend their whole lives making cocoons for themselves out of furniture and ornaments and books and toys and pictures and any kind of shit they could find."
And the ending! It is perfect: surprising, inevitable, disturbing, and moving.
The audiobook is finely read by Flinty Williams. She is the kind of reader who doesn't try to perform vocal gymnastics to differentiate among different characters, but only slightly lowers or raises her voice for men or kids, etc., and just reads every word and sentence with pitch perfect pronunciation, pacing, and emphasis. And she has an appealing British accent, voice, and manner.
People who like the zombie genre's potential and are willing to sample its more intelligent and original examples, like Daryl Gregory's Raising Stony Mayhall (2011), should like this book. (Refreshingly, it doesn't appear to be the first in a series.)
**Note: Just because one of the main characters is ten years old, don't think that this is exactly a YA book: its attack on human pride may be disturbing, and many scenes are graphic.**
"Fantastic book but poor audio production"
Thrilling story and fantastic narration. However, whoever edited the audio should get a stern talking to. The 's' sounds are terrible and cuts the ear everytime. It's not that hard to fix so why isn't it fixed?
Finty Willaims was great though and I was gripped from start to finish.
"Incredibly touching and chilling all at once"
A different type of zombie novel that I would recommend to friends who wouldn't normally read sci-fi or horror. The Girl with All the Gifts is a clever, emotional and surprising story. The characters with their clashing ideas and backgrounds take the reader through a rollercoaster of feelings and prove that nothing is ever as clear cut as it first seems.
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