Monday, 14 July 2014

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

"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."

I was so excited to read this book based on the description (so mysterious!) and the fabulous reviews on Goodreads. Reviewers across the board spoke of great writing, a fantastic surprise ending, intrigue, a fascinating dystopia etc.

The story is a bit zombie, a lot dystopian society hiding from said zombies (called hungries because they, as most modern zombs, like to bite and their "virus" or whatever is transferred through biting/saliva), a bit of fungus/mold (taking the place of a virus because hey, how many ways can one come up with to transfer or grow a zombie plague), a bit military installation/doctor/scientist-y stuff, and a huge promise of a fantastic ending.

So, what happened?

I ended up giving this book just two stars ("it was ok"). I expected I'd be blown away and give it 5 stars like almost everyone else, but I found the whole thing fell short. I don't know if it was just expecting too much based on other people's opinions, or if it was the book itself.

The writing isn't a problem; many a time I would stop and appreciate a turn of phrase. Some of the characterizations were annoying, though: the male soldiers acted in a typically sexist way, always talking about their attraction to one of the female scientists and mentioning porn. The book certainly didn't need that at all. When we got into the men's heads, we just wanted to get back OUT.

Two characters needed a lot more interactions and opportunity in the book -- Melanie, a ten year old infected with the zomb mold/virus who is supposed to be the main character but who is mostly talked about instead of being a participant in much, and Dr. Caldwell who is the main antagonist who wants to dissect our young heroine. I feel so much more could have been done with these two and a lot of time was wasted on Miss Justineau and Melanie's "crush" on her.  It's like the book ignored two of its most interesting and vibrant characters in order to spend a lot of time blathering about characters who really didn't matter much in the end.

Even the times we got to see more kids like Melanie, we didn't get to spend much time with them. Action sequences didn't last long enough or have enough happening. There were only a couple of instances where there was a lot of suspense (the last couple of scenes with Gallagher for example). If the book had incorporated more moments like these, maybe along the lines of The Strain series, the novel would have been elevated for me.

Around halfway through I started getting bored, and that's not something I expected would happen considering I went into the book with excitement and eagerness. It was a bit of a chore just to finish.

Overall it was just ok. Nothing spectacular.

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