Title : The Girl With All The Gifts
Author : M. R. Carey
Narrators : Finty Williams
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Hachette Audio
Listening Length : 13 hours 4 minutes
Rating : 4.5/5
Narrator Rating : 5/5
Melanie is a 10 year old girl. She is considered special. That is why she, and others like her, are being educated in an elite, fortified environment. Melanie is intelligent, with a very high IQ, and loves learning, especially when Ms. Justineau is doing the teaching. The other teachers remain distant (just like they have been told to do) and answer her questions a little vaguely. Terms like the “breakdown” and “hungries” float about, and Melanie gets a sense that all is not well.
“The Girl with all the gifts” is a post-apocalyptic novel set in the UK. It is primarily a fast-paced thriller – the thriller part starts when Melanie’s heavily protected world comes crashing down and she is left to fend for herself – although there are bits of horror in here too. Yes, there are zombies, and there is some description of gory feeding frenzies. Zombies are not my thing. Normally, I would not even attempt such a book, but there is much more to this one that just the walking undead.
For starters, there is Melanie, an intelligent child, who picks up enough information despite the stonewalling to infer that she is not a normal 10 year old. Then there are adults who stand for and against her. This book has compelling characters, very well fleshed out, and that was one of the reasons I liked it. They have their flaws, but they also have strongly redeeming characteristics. They try to do the right thing, even if it is hard and goes against the very grain of their being. Carey provides enough backstory to each character to enable us to get a good handle on their personalities and temparements.
Carey’s descriptive-to-eventful ratio is just right. There is adequate detail about the people and the locales that I can almost picture them in my head, and there is more than enough going on to propel the story forward. I also liked the scientific detail the author provides, the explanations of the whys and the hows. Structurally, this has been thought through, so there aren’t any “gaps” – which is a plus, in a novel which has so much going on.
The story is fast paced and unpredictable. Once Melanie is out there by herself, pretty much anything can happen, and you can’t really anticipate where the narrative will go. Carey puts his characters in lots of tight spots; you hope they will get out of them. This continues, with you hanging onto every word. And very soon, you’re at the end of the book – a sure sign of a good one.
Narrator Finty Williams is marvelous. Beautifully paced, and does great voices and intonations for both male and female characters. Made this great book better.