Genres: Horror, Dystopia
Publication Date: January 14th 2014
3 OUT OF 5 STARS
“…you can’t save people from the world. There’s nowhere else to take them.”
Melanie loves classes, especially when her favourite teacher is there. She likes school days much better than the weekends when she has to take chemical showers and spend all day in her cell. Whenever soldiers come to strap her into her wheelchair for transit she tries to be friendly. She tells them that she won’t bite, but for some reason, no one ever laughs.
Though the blurb teases mystery, there is none. Melanie’s world becomes very clear within the first twenty pages and you aren’t left guessing as to why her childhood is playing out so strangely. This was, I feel, the biggest loss to the book. Dragging out Melanie’s and the reader’s ignorance might have made for a more intriguing start to the novel. Instead, it’s very obvious what’s going on and it makes you wonder why the blurb bothered to be vague at all.
Onto the positives, The Girl with All the Gifts is an has an incredibly unique plot, even if the world feels done before. The first half of the book is absolutely brilliant. The layout of Melanie’s small world and the horrors that reside within it will keep readers on their toes. As the plot continues on though it gets to be more stock. Tropes and scenes from every thriller begin to fall in and a lot of the tension is lost to predictability.
The book is more interesting when it’s examining the “hungries” and what they are. Caldwell’s chapters are particularly interesting for this reason. The characters (particularly Melanie) grow on you and make you love them. It’s heartbreaking. The ending is successfully bittersweet and hopeful. The tone and ideas in the ending are very clever and will make readers think.
But it’s not enough. Far too many pages are spent on walking and pointless travel filler with no development. The book never felt frightening or shocking once outside of the cellblock. Well written characters and several creative ideas were not enough.
Carey should have focused fully on the aspects of his story that made it unique, instead we get a novel which reads, for the most part, like standard zombie/apocalypse thriller with the nagging thought that it could have been more.