The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Set in a post-apocalyptic world in which “the Breakdown” was caused by an incurable virus, The Girl with All the Gifts is a mix of sci fi and horror. If an incurable virus scenario sounds too real—is this where we’ll be in a few years?—I don’t fault you. This was an uncomfortable read for me, especially since we are still in the middle of a pandemic.

Despite its eeriness, the story itself is great, and it was thrilling to follow the events as they unfolded. The first part of the book progressed slowly, however, to set the stage. The book somehow reminded me of The House of the Scorpion, which had a totally different concept but also made readers ask “what makes one human, anyway?” But The Girl with All the Gifts is an entirely different story, and by the second half, I started to wonder why I thought it similar to a story about clones in the first place. The rest of the story moved quickly, and then somehow it came to an end—a good one, too. For a post-apocalyptic novel, the end did not have loose ends, and this was very satisfying to me as a reader. Everything made sense, and there is closure.

I did not, however, love all of the characters. Of the set of main characters, I only liked two of them—Melanie and Dr. Caldwell—and only for their consistency and discipline. I did not like Ms. Justineau as much. Most of the craziness (not “the Breakdown” but the actual plot) started because of her rash decisions, and her only saving grace was that she could see the humanity in some of the infected when no one else could. That was a big saving grace, but her actions were uncharacteristic of an adult that lived in that post-apocalyptic world, so I am still not the biggest fan of her.

But again, no loose ends. I am a happy camper. I can see why people like to read or watch these kinds of stories. However, I am not a fan of horror, so I likely will not be reading something similar in the future.

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