The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey

the-girl-with-all-the-giftsBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Obit: Hachette Book Group, 2015
  • Edition, First Trade Paperback Ed.
  • Description: Paperback; 438 pages; 21 cm  
  • Interest Level: AD
  • Summary: “Melanie is a very special girl. Dr.Caldwell calls her ‘our little genius.’  Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant 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.”  Retrieved from the publisher.
  • ISBN: 978-0-316-33475-4
  • Subjects:
    • Zombie outbreak
    • Survival
    • Medical Thriller

Reader’s Annotation: They never touch us unless they have to.  But she did, she stroked my hair, and I love her for that.

Plot Summary: The story begins in a strange sort of school where a small group of children are being taught by an even smaller group of teachers.  All of the children are kept in cells when they aren’t in class and if they are taken out, it is at gunpoint and strapped into wheelchairs.  They are never free and never given a chance to reach one of the guards or a teacher.  Melanie, a pale, clever little girl is the center of the story.  She is the girl with all the gifts; a Pandora in modern England.  And like her namesake, her gifts are better left ungiven but they are inevitable in the current circumstances.  For this is a dying England, caught up in an apocalyptic nightmare and the children in the class are more than students, they are possible keys to restoring the world as it was.  And while the school is an island of safety, it eventually falls to the chaos and sends Melanie and three adults out into the world in an effort to reach safety.  But there is no safe place in this new world; there are only Melanie’s gifts.

Critical Evaluation:  Zombie stories are everywhere in books and the media these days, and this book, soon to be a movie, is another example of the genre.  In some way, however, this one is quite different.  The plague is not supernatural and the dead do not rise.  No, this is the result of a fungal infection from some heretofore unknown fungus that suddenly appears and wreaks havoc on the world.  Carey creates a world in despair where a scientist performs horrific acts on small children infected with the fungus with the hope that she will find a treatment or cure or something to hold this intruder at bay.  He also creates other characters that are either very human and compassionate, or soldiers determined not to yield to any softer emotions that have disastrous results.  And of course, there is Melanie, who is a very believable little girl who takes joy from any little chance she has and who faces reality with the fatalism of someone who knows wishing doesn’t make things happen.  All of his characters, and the story itself, are compelling and well-constructed.  You want things to work out because he makes you care about them, even the ones who are not always very sympathetic, and that is good writing.  Carey has written a very human zombie book that any fan of the genre should read.

Author’s Brief Bio: Mike Carey is a British writer whose work spans comics, books, TV and film scripts, and radio plays. His novel The Girl with All the Gifts was an international bestseller, and adapted by Carey for the 2016 Colm McCarthy-directed film.  He’s written for DC and Marvel, including acclaimed runs on Ultimate Fantastic Four and X-Men, and with Peter Gross, Lucifer and The Unwritten. His books include Fellside, the Felix Castor series, and The Steel Seraglio (with Linda and Louise Carey).

Genre Designation: Science Fiction – Apocalyptic

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • Biology – molds and fungus
  • Sociology

Book Talk Ideas:  What makes someone a monster?  When does doing the right thing become the wrong thing?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:


Why this book was selected. I had heard a lot of good things about this book and love zombie stories.


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