The Girl With All The Gifts, M.R. Carey- Review

20140908_161004 “THE MOST ORIGINAL THRILLER YOU WILL READ” is a smack bang promise at the top of this yellow covered book of creepy heart wrenching goodness. Seemingly a novel like no other it promises something that in itself would seem impossible – originality. So many novels, short stories and other forms of literature have been written and read is it possible for any form of writing to be original anymore?

Well, of course only in my opinion I would have to say no, I think it’s extremely unlikely you will ever come across a piece of material, sit down and have a good read and think: “Wowzers, I’ve never read anything like that before.” At least I haven’t. I can relate so many things I’ve read to so many other things that I’ve either read, seen or heard I feel as if originality is something that now is unachievable.

Having said that, or written it rather there is an element to this book that did have me thinking that maybe my opinion was wrong. There’s no doubt in my mind that this book reaches for originality in a way that I’m not sure other thriller authors have done or achieved better yet, however I can still see traces of other story lines within its pages.

Still, originality is hard to come by and this author, M.R.Carey has definitely got me to rethink my pessimistic view that originality is no longer achievable.

This book is a must!

It’s everything a thriller should be – thrilling (shocker that), tense and more importantly there is such an opportunity to have empathy for all the characters within this story. Set in a post-apocolyptic Britain (yes my home country) it features a variety of characters from the devout-to-science Dr Caldwell to the child Melanie who Caldwell wants to cut up. The difference in characters are really developed allowing each of the main characters to become people and leave you with a vested interest in wanting to know what will happen to them, and feeling awful or elated when something bad/good happens.  The plot, without giving too much away, is about a virus (when is post-apocolyptic not about a virus?) which has changed a whole lot people into a lot of bad things when bitten, I would probably describe them as some kind of zombie or Reaver (if you’re a fan of Firefly and Serenity like me) but less bad in some ways and more bad in others. Was that helpful? Probably not. A base of surviving military people, scientists and psyhchatrists are running a clinic featuring young infected children trying to work out how to save the world. When the inevitable happens and they get overrun by outsider Hungries (the zombie name for the baddies). The next part of the book covers their consequent escape from both hungries and human rebel forces and their hope in reaching another place of safety.

One of the most poignant parts of this book is the relationship that forms between Melanie, the infected child and Miss Justineau. A mother/daughter relationship, if you will. One that during the course of the book becomes more intense and in a way peculiar. As a reader you become totally vested in the safety that one brings to the other but at the same time you are well aware, as are both the characters that it’s a relationship that won’t hold. It seemed as if you could if you wanted to analyse the story back to from that Carey had created an ethical question of when can a mother or surrogate stop or start loving a child who is a considered a monster, and how can something be a monster if it can love? Deep stuff. However Carey himself states that any ethical issues he might bring up are: “not even an matter of conscious thought.”

Something totally gorgeous about this book is how Carey relates and in someways mirrors Greek myths throughout. The Greek mythology is constantly mentioned, especially Pandora’s Box which as the story comes to a close you see what a beautiful reflection of the original Greek work it is. A plot so totally different and yet so similar.

Without giving away the end, which I promise I won’t. This book raises all kinds of questions about the fragility of humanity, the hopeless of humanity and in some respects the hope that humanity has in itself as the most superior species to fix what they deem is wrong.

Give this book and I highly doubt you’ll regret it.


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