The Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey – Book Review [Bane of Kings]


Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, turns his attention to The Girl With All The Gifts, by MR Carey, one of the best novels of 2014, a zombie horror book published by Orbit. MR Carey is the penname of popular comics author Mike Carey, responsible for The Unwritten and many other series.

“Hands down, the best book of the year so far. Unputdownable, engrossing and imaginative, I can’t recommend this enough. You’ll love it.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields


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’m a massive fan of Mike Carey’s work. The Unwritten: Apocalypse was my first exposure to his comics writing and I’ve loved every second of the adventures of Tom Taylor, so when I heard that he was putting out a new book under the penname of MR Carey, there was no way I was going to pass this opportunity by, and I wasn’t disappointed. There’s very little where The Girl With All The Gifts puts wrong, and it’s going to take some beating to be knocked off the “Best Book of the Year” status which this title currently holds.

The-Girl-With-All-The-GiftsIn fact, scratch that. It’s not just one of my favourite novels of the year. It’s one of my favourite novels in the zombie genre period – the only thing that comes close out of what I’ve read is the equally incredible The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell. However, The Girl With All The Gifts is something entirely different. It doesn’t look like a zombie novel on the surface, maybe about a girl with special abilities at a stretch, but when it becomes apparent that you are in fact dealing with the undead, things really get interesting.

I went into The Girl With All The Gifts with virtually no knowledge of what was going to happen. Heck, I didn’t even know that it would be about zombies until I started reading. The less you know about it, the better – because this title will really surprise you, with its unpredictable narrative and a fantastic pace. You’d be hard pressed to put it down once you get started, and I blazed through this one really quickly.

The Girl With All The Gifts isn’t your typical zombie drama though. It’s not quite I am Legend, but neither is it the movie version of World War Z. It deals with plenty of science elements, and it handles them well, in a way that doesn’t bog down the narrative. It also allows time to make you care about characters, for example, Carey really makes you feel sympathy for Melanie as well as the others that we get to meet. He’s an experienced writer and it shows here with this book.

Whilst the book deals with a small band of survivors, it avoids many of the common clichés associated with zombie novels. I love the genre but they get noticeable after you’ve read one too many book, and thankfully for the large part clichés are something that The Girl With All The Gifts avoids. It feels like a breath of fresh air so if you’re someone who has been falling out of love with the Undead recently, then this book should be certainly right up your street. If you’ve never read a zombie book before and want to try out the genre than this book is equally accessible, working well as a standalone.

What some zombie novels put wrong is that they throw their main characters into one too many life threatening scenarios and don’t kill off any major leads, leading you into the scenario where you think everyone you care will survive, and thus rob the tension. This book avoids that, keeping the tension high – and the horror remains relevant throughout. You don’t know what’s going to happen next, and that’s why it’s just so thrilling.

I’m struggling to find anything wrong about this book. It’s just simply too good, unputdownable and a masterpiece. In short, if you haven’t already brought it you’ll want to pick it up as soon as you can, because The Girl With All The Gifts is not just the book to beat in 2014, it’s the book to beat in the entire zombie genre.

VERDICT: 10/10

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer