Wednesday, February 17, 2016

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

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

hardcover, 403 pages

Published June 2014 by Orbit (first published January 14th 2014)

Arthur C. Clarke Award Nominee for Best Novel (2015),

Audie Award for Paranormal (2015),

British Fantasy Award Nominee for August Derleth Award (best horror novel) (2015),

Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Horror (2014),

James Herbert Award Nominee (2015)

This book written under a very thinly veiled pen name for long time comic writer Mike Carey. Most well know for his genius run of Hellblazer comics. He has written for X-men, created Lucifer and wrote a series of novels about a exorcist named Felix Castor (I reviewed at least one of those novels a few years back). Carey is my favorite writer to tackle Constantine in the graphic novels, and decided to read this book after hearing an interview with him on The Three Guys with Beards podcast. He is a fantastic writer and without hesitation I would say his strongest work across the many media he writes in.

Lets just say this. I went in 100% cold knowing nothing and I am glad I did because the reveal of the story worked super well without knowledge of the plot. The first act is incredibly strong, but if I had any idea what the plot was going to be I am not sure how well it would have worked. but if you want to know more keep reading...

The story of Melanie a young girl who we meet living in a strange situation. Prisoner or student? Both. Before she can go to school she must be locked down, muzzled and the soldiers who transport her are terror-filled just being the room with her. The opening act is mostly from her point of view. We quickly learn that Melannie is a sweet and innocent child, who doesn't understand the fear she receives from every one except her beloved teacher miss Justineau. The strength of this first act is hard to explain. Carey sells both the sweet innocence of the child and unexplained terror the soldiers and scientist that deal with her feel. It is a power start.

I admit I am jealous of this book, I suspect most horror writers would be. A book that tugs at the heart strings as much as it delivers gore, and horror is a thing of beauty. This is also YA really. Not to forget a fresh take on a tired genre. It is becoming it's own subgenre of horror now. The interesting zombie novel. No one wants to read the 300th generation zerox of Romero or the Walking Dead. This interesting new take on the zombie novel thing is really happening. The Girl with all the gifts certainly is all that, you have to find your interesting take.

The rules are slightly different and this leads to several moments of terror, the novel is structured in such away that the story flows page to page at a break-neck pace. My morning commute I normally read 50 to 60 pages. I read 80 pages two days in a row of this book. I had one nitpick, but in a sense it is major. Mike Carey has done this before, it must be his thing but the book is written in present tense like a screenplay. I didn't notice until my wife looking over my shoulder pointed it out. Then it drove me nuts. Does not matter...

This novel is storytelling magic. A masterpiece. One I think anyone would love.

PS If you are looking for some other interesting takes on the genre One by Conrad Williams, Blood Crazy by Simon Clark, Positive by David Wellington are some I have read...

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