The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey was my first experience with Audible. I downloaded this book because I had a free credit from Audible, and knowing that I was soon to do a lot of traveling, I figured it might be nice to listen while I ride or drive. Well, that plan was great in theory. Too bad the book didn’t make it through the week leading up to the trip. Once I started listening to The Girl with All the Gifts, I could not stop.
This book is set in post-apocalyptic England and follows Melanie, a strange and gifted young girl with a big heart. She lives on a military compound with other boys and girls her age. She goes to class, where she is taught by different teachers, her favorite being Miss Justineau. However, when the compound is attacked, Melanie, Miss Justineau, a very wary Sergeant Parks, young Private Gallagher, and a curious scientist named Dr. Caldwell are the only ones to escape, hoping to make their way to safety in Beacon, a larger settlement of people. The group must learn to survive together, despite the tension and their dislike of each other.
This was the first book of M. R. Carey’s that I read (encountered?). Carey is the pen name of an already successful British prose fiction and comic book writer who has written for both DC and Marvel. He is frequently on the New York Times graphic fiction bestseller list. Carey does an amazing job with managing the different voices and points of view in The Girl with All the Gifts, using third person limited point of view to skillfully bounce around the minds and thoughts of different characters, giving the reader a chance to understand the views of various characters.
Particularly interesting to me was the ending of this book. No worries, I won’t spoil anything. (Incidentally, if you don’t want the book spoiled for you, I suggest you actually avoid almost all reviews of this book. No really.. Avoid all reviews! My apologies for the irony, though.) The ending of this book shows you the depth of Melanie’s wisdom, despite her young age. Let’s put it this way, my mind was blown. Melanie provides us an alternate way of thinking about things, shedding new light and insight on the crumbling world around her and looking at the problems of her world in ways that perhaps her companions are blind to.
In short, I give this four out of five stars. I would quickly recommend this book to you, especially if you are like me and enjoy a book that challenges the way you think. Carey has a way of placing us in the minds of his characters, creating these individuals that you root for despite their faults. And if you like to listen to books or are looking for something to listen to for a work or school commute, don’t hesitate to give this a listen. Finty Williams narrates this beauty, and how quickly we are enchanted by a British accent. Williams has a way of shifting voices and reading dialogue that will easily and quickly engage you in the story. So if you are looking for a read or listen, if you are a fan of dystopian worlds, please do not hesitate to pick up The Girl with All the Gifts. And when you’re done, let me know! I am always in need of someone to talk books with.