From the publisher:
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.
When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.
Melanie is a very special girl.
A curious reader who picks up M. R. Carey’s THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS won’t learn much about the book from the jacket. In fact, all a curious reader will find out about the book is listed in the three paragraphs above.
And that’s all a reader needs to know.
In this fast-paced sci-fi thriller, the reader joins a girl named Melanie – who says she’s 10 years old, but she counts herself and that may not be reliable – in her daily life at a military base-slash-scientific facility, Hotel Echo, where she attends daily classes strapped into a wheelchair, bound from her feet up to her neck. She’s dangerous, though readers won’t learn why for quite some time, and Melanie herself doesn’t quite know.
Switching between the perspectives of five core characters – Melanie and four adults who interact with her – balances the unreliability of a child narrator who’s lived her entire life in a cell and adds context and depth to the story. It’s only from the four adults that readers learn about the world outside Hotel Echo, and only by hearing from all of them can readers start piecing together just what has turned the world into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
I’ll stop there to prevent spoiling any more, but in terms of style, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the sort of book that’s really hard to stop reading: it’s incredibly fast-paced, becoming even more engaging after the first quarter of the book, and the mystery of what Melanie is (and whether or not she’s a person) builds until it finally bursts.
There were a few reservations I had about the book that could definitely turn other readers away. First is the style in which the novel is written. While it adheres to a close third narration style, which I personally enjoy most, the distance combined with Melanie’s unreliability can be confusing and a bit of a turn-off. The book is also pretty gory – the violence and gore fits the book overall, but some aspects of how the scientist goes about her business made me a little nauseous at times.
While I didn’t appreciate the gore, though, I have to admit it fit the bleakness of the book’s tone, and the science-specific aspects were in many ways plot-relevant. No aspect of the book felt particularly gratuitous, and the book’s pace meant that it would all be over shortly anyway.
I’d recommend THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS for readers of thriller and horror who also appreciate science fiction, especially those who are interested in science fiction that asks otherwise difficult questions.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Feliza Casano is a fan of anime, manga, and every sort of book as well as editor in chief at Girls in Capes. She writes for all sections of the site, and she’s the one behind GiC’s Facebook and Twitter. Follow her on Twitter @FelizaCasano.