The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, Review by Corinne Donnelly
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey begins at a school for “special” children in post-apocalyptic London. The main character, Melanie, an incredibly precocious child, gleans as much as she can from her teachers, particularly her favorite, Ms. Justineau. When things at the school start to go awry, Melanie must remain loyal to her values, as well as keep herself and Ms. Justineau safe. Equally enthralling, disturbing, and terrifying, this novel will surprise you with its incredibly dynamic characters and innovative plot.
Melanie’s character arc is a fascinating one, and her relationships provide a lot of food for thought. Melanie and the three supporting characters, Ms. Justineau, Dr. Caldwell, and Sgt. Parks, switch narration from chapter to chapter. This is executed well, especially since they all add distinct perspectives on the world they live in. The story is also told continuously, so it is fairly simple to follow the thread of events from start to completion.
Another striking aspect of the novel is that it reads a lot like a movie. Everything is very easy to visualize, particularly the setting, and yet, Carey does not rely heavily on description. The middle section of the novel drags considerably in comparison to the beginning and ending, but not so much that it hinders the reading experience. Some juicy plot twists and revelations are also thrown in from time to time, which certainly kept me turning pages furiously as the action moved forward.
The themes that the novel touches upon astonished me immensely, as they effectively bring up important issues of the day in what is essentially a sci-fi setting. In particular, I found myself reflecting heavily on the idea of self-preservation in a world that makes snap judgments when it comes to the compartmentalization of good and evil.
M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts is a provocative new science fiction novel that will give you a lot to think about and keep you highly entertained in the process. I highly recommend reading it before the movie comes out at the end of this year. Most importantly, please avoid spoilers like the plague!