- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Orbit; First Edition edition (June 10, 2014)
- ISBN: 0316278157
- Source: Publisher
Melanie is a unique girl. She spends most of her day locked in a cell. When she is moved, she is restrained in a wheelchair, her arms and legs shackled to hinder movement. She looks forward to going to “school” and, in particular, her teacher Miss Justineau. She has hopes for her future and life as an adult; unfortunately Melanie cannot comprehend why that will never happen. Like any child her age, she craves attention and affection, both of which are forbidden.
There are other children similar to Melanie, studied by a doctor at the facility. Some leave and never return. Melanie seems to be the only one of the children who contemplates this; the others seem oblivious and go on with their routine. Then…something happens, throwing off this routine and sending Melanie’s world into an uncontrollable spiral of change.
Set in a post-apocalyptic society, The Girl with All the Gifts alludes to something not quite being right in the world. Rather than being unveiled immediately, small tidbits of information are relayed to the reader as the characters themselves experience it. This review is intentionally vague because the reader must experience the revelations on their own, free of spoilers or hints of what is to come.
Melanie, the main character, is a truly unique young girl. This novel is a coming-of-age of sorts, as Melanie undergoes quite a transformation mentally and emotionally as she learns what makes her different from those around her. It is impossible not to feel sympathy for her as she undergoes these revelations. It will tear at readers heartstrings, for Carey so eloquently portrays the feelings Melanie is experiencing in her “transformation.”
The secondary characters are highly involved in Melanie’s transformation, from Miss Justineau, her sympathetic and caring teacher to Dr. Caldwell, who sees the children as merely test subjects, and finally the guards around her. As they each experience Melanie outside the confines of the facility, they each form a better understanding of what, and who, she really is.
The world the author builds is dark and chilling, difficult to fathom at times but chillingly realistic at others. I have no doubt that this novel stands on its own as a truly unique spin on a seemingly common storyline. The cover makes the tone of the book apparent; there is no avoiding the fact that this is a taut, intense thriller.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a must-read for fans of post-apocalyptic fiction, particularly those novels that force you to contemplate your own situation, or your response to the situation at hand. While this review is so vague as to what transpires, trust me to know that the anticipation and revelation will make it well worth it in the end. Highly, highly recommended.