• The Girl with All the Gifts

  • By: M. R. Carey
  • Narrated by: Finty Williams
  • Length: 13 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (461 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award 2014

Not every gift is a blessing.

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.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up.

Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, The Girl with all the Gifts is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will listen to this year.

The phenomenal word-of-mouth best seller The Girl with all the Gifts is now a major film on widespread distribution starring Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine.

©2014 M. R. Carey (P)2014 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A great read that takes hold of you and doesn´t let go." (John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of Let The Right One In)
"Brilliant... Gripping right to the end." ( Sunday Times best-selling author Carole Matthews)

What listeners say about The Girl with All the Gifts

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Wholly Unique

Would you consider the audio edition of The Girl with All the Gifts to be better than the print version?

I haven't read the print version, but I thoroughly enjoyed the audio. There were some fantastic quotables that I would have liked to underline or at least page back to, but otherwise I'm quite satisfied.

Have you listened to any of Finty Williams’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I enjoyed this performance.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Carey writes so touchingly about Melanie that my heart wants to break. I adore how she gets the reader closer and closer to her characters. The characters are also fallible, and sometimes downright unlikeable, but generally not stereotypically so. They seem human. Sometimes Dr Caldwell seemed a bit like the Mad Scientist stereotype, though...

5 people found this helpful

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"I won't hurt you. I just want to examine you."

Ten-year-old Melanie thinks she's a normal girl (maybe a little better at maths and myths than her classmates) who'll grow up to be a princess and to maybe rescue her beloved teacher Miss Justineau from monsters. To Miss Justineau, Melanie is a special child. To Sergeant Parks, she is a dangerous monster. To Private Gallagher, she is uncanny. To Dr. Caldwell, she is Test Subject Number 1.

That complexity is one of the virtues of M. R. Carey's The Girl with All the Gifts (2014), a zombie genre retelling of the Greek myth about Pandora (whose name, Melanie explains, means "the girl with all the gifts"). All five point of view characters are right and wrong about Melanie, and reading to find out if and how they'll learn they're wrong and right is a suspenseful pleasure--if pleasure is the right word for a story set in a near future twenty years after a parasitic fungus mutated so as to colonize human hosts, commandeering their nervous systems and consuming their brains to turn people into "hungries," virtually mindless predators driven to eat raw meat to provide protein to the fungus, resulting in "the Breakdown" of civilization and the probable eventual extinction of homo sapiens.

Narrated from Melanie's point of view, the first three of seventy-four chapters recall Never Let Me Go, for she is confined to a place with her life organized around classes, and her fellow pupils and she are destined for a special terminal purpose, which her favorite teacher, Miss Justineau, is finding increasingly difficult to deal with. Melanie and her classmates live in small individual cells on a kind of military base. Despite not being free to leave the cellblock, despite not even being able to leave her cell unless she's strapped head and foot to a wheel chair, Melanie has picked up various clues about her world from what her teachers and to Sergeant Parks, who's in charge of the kids' confinement, say. But she still doesn't quite know what she is.

After a band of "junkers," "survivalist assholes" who live by scavenging, pay the base a call, the novel kicks into high page-turning gear. Although Carey includes some typical zombie genre tropes (e.g., the old trapped in a house surrounded by zombies situation), he does most everything with a refreshing, unsparing, and convincing authenticity, while adding enough surprises and fresh takes on the typical tropes to make his book bracing. And because we care about his characters, it's all very suspenseful.

Yes, the strongest part of this novel is its convincing point of view characters, each with their own personal history shaping and driving them, often in conflict with others: Miss Justineau (psychologist brought in to study the children's emotional responses and cognitive processes), Dr. Caldwell (uber scientist out to save homo sapiens via vivisection), scar-faced Sergeant Parks (essential soldier aiming to do his job), Private Gallagher (hapless, gormless, sweet). And wonderful Melanie of course. She wishes her name were Pandora, because she has learnt that Pandora didn't only release harmful things into the world but also some good things and figures that Pandora shouldn't be blamed because Zeus made her with curiosity and set up the whole trap. She's like any kid sensually experiencing and building an overwhelming new world around herself--and she's something very different. She has great presence and poise, fears and bravery.

Carey works in plenty of allusions to Greek/Roman myths (like Acteon) and legends (like The Aeneid). And his similes/metaphors are apt, telling, vivid, fresh, sometimes humorous.
--"The laugh you'd make if you rubbed out a mistake in a sum and accidentally tore the paper."
--"Her first taste of blood and warm flesh gives her a rush of pleasure bigger than she is… the part of her that can think bends in the cataract of mindless pleasure and hunger, and she goes on eating, feeling like a torrent of waterfall poured in a cup."
--Hungries standing still in different stages of decomposition "look like they're posing for paintings."
--"a fine fractal froth" of spores.

It is not a horror fantasy novel so much as a science fiction suspense novel. The biology of the fungus is convincingly detailed, with plenty of scientific language and behavior. As with much of the best sf, it comments on how we live now: "It's like before the breakdown people used to spend their whole lives making cocoons for themselves out of furniture and ornaments and books and toys and pictures and any kind of shit they could find."

And the ending! It is perfect: surprising, inevitable, disturbing, and moving.

The audiobook is finely read by Flinty Williams. She is the kind of reader who doesn't try to perform vocal gymnastics to differentiate among different characters, but only slightly lowers or raises her voice for men or kids, etc., and just reads every word and sentence with pitch perfect pronunciation, pacing, and emphasis. And she has an appealing British accent, voice, and manner.

People who like the zombie genre's potential and are willing to sample its more intelligent and original examples, like Daryl Gregory's Raising Stony Mayhall (2011), should like this book. (Refreshingly, it doesn't appear to be the first in a series.)

**Note: Just because one of the main characters is ten years old, don't think that this is exactly a YA book: its attack on human pride may be disturbing, and many scenes are graphic.**

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Fabulous!

I listen to a lot of audiobooks, in lots of different genres, and every now and then you come across one that is extra good. And I have to say 'The Girl with Al the Gifts' is really quite wonderful.
It's really well written, and the narration is perfect. I loved everything about it!

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excellent

not a dull moment in the whole story, simply fantastic in every way! definitely recommend

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Excellent, gripping story from start to end

Narrator was superb, as was the story. Made this genre accessible even for those who may not usually choose to read this kind of book. Riveting. I raced through it, but now wish there was more!

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Strong start, ultimately disappointing finish

A good performance by the narrator and fairly well written - but the story fell flat in the end as a lot of the theory didn't stack up.
I dont know how to explain it without giving away the whole story - but the girl, who is the one with 'all the gifts' is a product of a particular event...and the whole crux of the story is completely undermined by the final scenes. So while you're meant to be shaken by the dramatic ending, to me it didn't add up at all. Meh.

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Wonderful

This book is the proof that it doesn't matter what the subject is, what's important is the writing. If you have to choose one book to read this year, this should be it.

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A page turner (or audio binger?) indeed

This is one of the more original stories I've heard. it reveals itself slowly, with surprise, suspense and emotions on each step.
couldn't recommend it enough.

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The best zombie story

I have been in love with this story since hearing the short story version of it (Iphigenia at Aulis, please listen to or read it as well for a slightly different but equally amazing story!)
The characterization, the premise, the dynamics - all beautifully crafted.
Finty Williams is a terrific narrator.

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Holy crap!! The end was AMAZING!!

The end to thIs book took it from a 8/10 to a 10/10!!I highly recommend this book!!

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  • Simon
  • 01-19-14

A stunning read

Any additional comments?

Having listened to hundreds of audiobooks, this is the first review that I've written … and I'm doing so only because my opinion is so at odds with the two-and-a-half stars that this book has been awarded so far.
I found this a thoroughly gripping and thought-provoking tale; a highly original take on, to be honest, a somewhat hackneyed genre. (I won't mention the genre, as the part of the joy is the gradual unfolding of the protagonist's identity.)
The characters are satisfyingly rounded and the plot both engaging and pacey. From the outset through to the final few minutes, I had no idea of the book's conclusion and, when it finally came, I was far from disappointed.
Mention must also go to Finty Williams for some beautiful characterisation and a warm and textured performance.
So, if I’m waxing so lyrical about this production, why has it been so poorly received elsewhere? Well, I have to admit that it's not the book I had anticipated; and this is due to the necessarily vague publisher’s description. (As I mentioned earlier, giving too much away at the beginning would leach the joy from the first section of the book). So, like me, perhaps other listeners didn’t end up with the book they’d anticipated but, unlike me, found themselves in too much of an unfamiliar setting to enjoy their surroundings.
So, without giving too much away, what you get in the box is, ostensibly, a somewhat bleak post-apocalyptic drama, laced with plenty of warmth to balance the grit and revolving around an intriguingly textured central character. I hope that you find the surprises as pleasing as I did.

189 people found this helpful

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  • Robyn
  • 06-21-14

worth it

I really struggle sometimes to find a book that hits the spot. Having been spoiled with Sanderson and Rothfuss, whose epic fantasies tick every box, it's regularly hard to find a viable alternative. This book was it. Not a true fantasy by my standards, rather it's of the apocalyptic variety.

Enough new stuff to keep me interested - and keep me thinking. Well written too. One of those books that will stay with me for many years, I'm sure.

It has a slight shock factor - probably hits different people at different stages. Well narrated.

Certainly worth a credit - even if not your normal genre.

86 people found this helpful

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  • Mara
  • 01-22-14

STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND DOWNLOAD THIS BOOK

If you could sum up The Girl with All the Gifts in three words, what would they be?

time to think

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Girl with All the Gifts?

My house has never been so clean, I made up jobs to carry on listening, The whole concept of what we could become

Any additional comments?

I have not stopped thinking about the play of characters since I finished this. I forgot time and place and lost myself in this book.

69 people found this helpful

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  • Tolliedee
  • 05-10-14

Surprised !

If I had realised what this story was about I would NOT have chosen it....
It was only once I was into the story that I slowly started to realise that Melanie wasn't normal, nor was her environment. Something made me continue to listen and I became more and more engrossed!
I ended up listening avidly to the whole book and eagerly returning for more.
I really enjoyed it and, as I said at the begining, I would not have chosen it or anything of this ilk....very pleasantly surprised!

36 people found this helpful

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  • Krys
  • 01-21-14

Couldn't stop listening

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, definitely. You immediately get drawn into the main characters and I finished the book in 24 hrs

Who was your favorite character and why?

Actually the teacher. I found her to be both likeable and naive.

What about Finty Williams’s performance did you like?

The pace of the narration was perfect as was the pitch. I was extremely content to listen for hours on end.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes. I cried at the end. Not giving anything away but it was a satisfactory ending.

36 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. S. D. Cooper
  • 01-24-14

Cracking Story

Any additional comments?

An unexpected story, I wouldn't normally listen to a book where the main character is a child, but this was a real surprise as a fast moving story with an original theme
Well worth a read !

25 people found this helpful

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  • Beccameriel
  • 11-23-14

....but I don't even LIKE zombie stories

I really don't like zombies; they are the least interesting baddies as far as I'm concerned. I got this book because of several reviewers (who've not let me down in the past) said they'd had the same reservation but had ended up loving it.

The story drops you right in the middle of events without exposition and the situation is gradually revealed. I liked that two of the main protagonists are middle aged women (their ages aren't mentioned but given the time scale of events they must both be over 40), and one of them a black woman. It makes a welcome change to have a slightly more diverse set of characters. I really like the characterisation too; everyone has reasons for behaving as they do and there's a bit with Gallagher that nearly made me cry.

There is violence and some gore but it's not gross or over the top.

Finty Williams is excellent particularly as Melanie.

I hope they make a film of this; I started mentally casting it almost straight away.



19 people found this helpful

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  • Wras
  • 04-28-14

A good old fashion end beginning of.......

Good plot, likeable characters; delivered by a great reader, that brings it all to life. I found it hard to put down and heard the entire story in one day.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Sal
  • 02-02-14

An interesting twist on a horror classic.

I loved everything about this book. The story was gripping from start to finish, the characterisation pulled me in from the beginning and Carey rapidly built a world I wanted to know more about. The genre was familiar but this was such a different take that it never felt clichéd, and the very British nature of the story also made it more haunting for me. And the ending - perfect.
I had never heard this narrator before but she captured the voices and the tone perfectly and really added to the novel.
I admit that I was sad that there was no new Felix Castor but if this is an example of what we can expect from Carey in the future then I'm very happy indeed.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Victoria Hulland
  • 06-04-14

Unexpectedly addictive, unexpectedly different.

What do you get if you stick a scientist, a soldier (or 2), an humanitarian and a Zombie together in a race for survival? Answer...The girl with all the Gifts.

Like many zombie stories this book is set in a post apocalyptic world. Military rules and regulations apply to assure survival and in the middle of it all is Melanie who is about to discover her place in this forsaken world.

The difference with this book is that this is just the beginning. It's not all about how the world got taken over by zombies, death by gory death. It's about what happened after...decades after, and I found this a breath of fresh air in what is considered a over done genre.

This book is never at risk of being too unrealistic. It has tension and gore and at times quite chilling moments that made me uncomfortable to be listening alone. But it is all written so matter-of-factly that you do not doubt that, should this world become ridden with the un-dead, this is of course what would happen, it is the natural order of things when humans have been bottom of the food chain for 20 years.

With only a small character base you get to know all of them well and you know by the end of the book who you like, who you really like and who your really really don't like.

I was also pleased with the ending. I have read too many books recently that try to leave the ending to the readers imagination. I feel robbed of a conclusion most of the time and feel disappointed in the author for not having the courage of their convictions and following through to the end, whether people like their choice of ending or not. The girl with all the gifts gives an ending that I personally felt complemented the story brilliantly and I have been recommending it to anyone I know since I started reading it.

13 people found this helpful

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  • KlaraJ
  • 01-13-15

Book from my book club - would I read it otherwise

This was a story chosen by my book club and not sure I would have picked it up otherwise. I struggled for the first half of this book, sticking with it purely through determination. I started to enjoy it after hitting the halfway point but the ending kind of frustrated me. Not because the outcome but the fact that it ended so suddenly. I decided not to review this for a little while after I read it as I wasnt sure I would give it a fair review - have to admit after a couple of months, I am still frustrated by it and not sure I would recommend it. Having said that, the narrator was brilliant!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Craig McSpellcheck
  • 10-25-19

Nothing like the movie. Thankfully...

Allways worried having seen the film first id grow tired of this quickly.
I was wrong. This book is brilliant and i was hooked very quickly. The conversational writing style and original take on the Z topic had me hooked and not wanting to turn it off within the first 10mins.
Give it a listen. You will not be disappointed.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Barry Earsman
  • 08-11-14

Vividly written, sensitively performed

Which character – as performed by Finty Williams – was your favourite?

All the characters are well-drawn and have depths that are gradually and skillfully drawn out as the story proceeds.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I certainly found it difficult to pull my headphones off. The chapters weren't too long and the perspective shifts gave colour to the plot, which had a number of unexpected twists.

Any additional comments?

Altogether an original and scientifically plausible take on an overpopulated genre. Action, drama, pathos, and science, skillfully brought to life by a sensitive narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kira Moloney
  • 03-26-18

Fantastic Writting

I love the way this author uses words and their way of describing things! It's almost like poetry sometimes! Wonderful narration as well.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Claudia
  • 06-19-17

Loved this book

Grips you from start to finish and questions what exactly it means to be human.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Robyn
  • 11-06-16

A great performance of an interesting story

I found the plot to be plausible and the characters well imagined, although at times it felt like things moved a little slowly and at other times I could hardly keep up. The narrator did a fantastic job of bringing the characters to life. Overall I enjoyed this book.

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  • Melinda - YarnderWoman
  • 07-03-16

Started out better than it ended

I love the premise of this movie, and the symbolism of 'the girl with all the gifts' name works well at the end. However I preferred the story at the beginning than where it went. I still enjoyed it though and would recommend it, but not as the best book ever (but certainly by no means the worst, either).

1 person found this helpful

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  • Myk
  • 02-04-15

The best end of the world novel I've read

Very interesting take on a fairly thoroughly trod ground. Ruthless in its rationality and conservative in its conceits, an excellent combination.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-26-22

Great listen

A fresh take on a beloved genre. Slow in parts, but overall a great read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-11-22

Marvelous

Clever, confronting and totally facinating and brilliant. Carey is a true talent.
Once will not be enough.