A Very Special Girl

A Very Special Girl

The Girl with All the Gifts

by M. R. Carey

Genre: YA Horror
Published: June 19th, 2014
by Orbit




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.


The truth is the truth, the only prize worth having. If you deny it, you’re only showing that you’re unworthy of it.

This is one of the most unique and original books I’ve read this year; not to mention it really will make you think for hours after you put it down. M.R. Carey has written something that defies expectations and genre predispositions and goes into a world of its own.

This is a book where it will really benefit you if you go in blind; and thus everything in this review will be a bit vague, but I can promise you that the vagueness here will pay off if you decide to read this.

What I can tell you is that this book follows a little girl named Melanie. Every night, Melanie is locked into a cell to sleep. In the morning, two men strap her into a wheelchair, while the third holds her at gunpoint while they transport her to class. Melanie doesn’t understand why this happens to her, but she knows one thing: these men don’t like her. Melanie is a very special girl.

This is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. It’s not your typical zombie book Γ  la World War Z (the action scenes and bloodbaths here are few and far between); nor is it like any post-apocalyptic tale you’ve ever read. It’s a combination of those two genres – with a dash of science fiction to go along with it. It’s an absolutely creative combination, and Carey executes it wonderfully.

Character-wise, I found Carey’s novel to be wonderful. The diversity of the characters and the distinct personalities they have is captivating, and you’ll learn to love each and every one of these characters.

As a protagonist, Melanie is absolutely fabulous. She’s not a special snowflake or someone who necessarily stands out in life; she’s someone ordinary, normal, that you can really connect to. She’s a determined and intelligent young lady, and her loyalty to those she loves really is admirable.

The side characters don’t falter either. From the kind and sensitive Miss Justineau – Melanie’s teacher – and the brilliant bond they have; to Sergeant Parks and his leadership; to Caroline Cadwell and her obsession with finding a cure, they all stand out at you.

One of the best things about this book, however, is that it makes you think. Few books are able to make you really question things and creep into your mind days after you’ve finished them. The Girl with All the Gifts is one of those books. It makes you wonder how far we’d go to save humanity. Is it worth it to kill a few people if it means saving humanity in the end? When does research become too extensive? Carey really makes you think about this, and it really makes The Girl with All the Gifts stand out from other novels with zombies that simply have action and no substance.

My only minor criticism is that I believed the first half of the novel was a bit better than the second half.

The hype about The Girl with All the Gifts has been large, and I believe it lives up to it. If you enjoy books that make you philosophize about certain topics or like zombie novels with little action, this is definitely something I would give a recommendation to pick up.


65 thoughts on “A Very Special Girl

  1. A philosophical zombie book? This is a book made for me. Have you read The Newflesh Trilogy? That one is about zombies as well but they’re more in the background and that’s the way I like it. I also appreciate it when a book makes me think hard about its themes and its relevance to life as we know it. I simply cannot wait to meet Melanie. Fantastic review, Zoe!

    1. I love when you get that feeling that a book is a “you” book! πŸ™‚ (If that makes any sense!) So glad t hear it sounds up your alley Sarah. xD

      I have not read the Newsflesh trilogy, but I have heard quite a lot of glowing reviews about it. I am definitely going to put it on my TBR because it sounds wonderful.

      Thank you Sarah! SO excited to see what you think!

  2. Absolutely everything with this post. This was the best zombie book I’ve ever read in a long, long, while. It was amazing how it made me think and philosophize about life and death and everything in between. I loved how Melanie’s character made me go sympathize not just with the humans but with the state of the world they lived in. This book pretty much gave me a very defeated feeling. It was just SO bleak, you know?! And the ending was so bittersweet… I mean the world lives on… with or without you… and that realization was kinda damning .-.

    1. The wonderful thing about this book is how unique it is. It’s not a typical action-packed zombie book nor is it a typical post-apocalyptic / survival story. It really takes it’s own route, and I’m glad we both liked that aspect of it.

      You don’t really get such wonderful philosophy hidden in a YA book (the only one other than this that comes to mind about this is The Giver), but it was spectacular.

      AND OMG! THAT ENDING WAS ABSOLUTE PERFECTION! Seriously. Bravo Carey. :clap:

      Glad you enjoyed this too Faye!

  3. Oh good grief, someone get me a copy of this. Stat!

    This is one of the few reviews I’ve ever read, where I’m trying to type as quickly as humanly possible, just so I can purchase it. You’re killing me, locked in her cell, gun point, you mention zombies but she seems intelligent, so I’m assuming she’s not one of them.

    *shakes Zoe maniacally* I think you’ve broke me, I MUST have this *whooshes out* Brilliant review, now don’t hold me up, I’m on my way to purchasing.

    1. Haha! πŸ˜‰

      I won’t give away anything, but I can almost guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

      Haha! You go purchase it Kelly! Can’t wait to see what you think! xD

  4. I don’t think I’ve seen a single negative review for this book which already says a lot about it! I haven’t read a book that made me think in a while so I am definitely looking forward to reading this one.. eventually. πŸ˜› The parasite aspect which someone mentioned a while ago is putting me off.. *hides*.

    Lovely review as ALWAYS, Zoe!! πŸ™‚

    1. I don’t think I have either Rashika! The lowest I think I’ve read is a 3.5 star rating; which, like you said, definitely speaks for itself regarding the quality of the book.

      As for the parasites, there is definitely some gruesome, gory details, but I think you’ll appreciate it in the end.

      Can’t wait to see what you think when you decide to read it. And thank you! :blush:

  5. I have seen this one around but I had no idea it was this good!! I really love when we get a diversity of characters as there is always someone I can connect with and also when books stays in your mind and makes you think about it for a long time it tells a lot. Amazing review, Zoe!! πŸ™‚

    1. This is one of those books that I think a lot of people (myself included!) put off because of the zombie aspect; thinking it was just another action-filled zombie adventure a la World War Z. The surprising thing is that it is absolutely unique and original.

      I think you can really judge the quality of a book by how long it stays with you, you know? If you keep thinking about it for days on end, you know what you’ve read is good. xD

      Thank you! <3

    1. It is EXCELLENT Rachel! πŸ˜€ And haha…thank you! πŸ˜‰ I can’t wait to see what you think of it when / if you get a copy. Thanks lovely! :heart:

    1. To be honest Naban, I don’t blame you! I did the same thing! The thing about this book is that it just doesn’t jump out at you until you read it, you know? From the summary it sounds to be a stereotypical zombie book a la World War Z, which can definitely throw a lot of people off. It’s really the power of the glowing reviews you read rather than the summary that ultimitely compels you to read it.

      So glad you’re intrigued now though. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! And thank you! :heart:

  6. Oh my goodness, what a great review! I really appreciate vague reviews when the situation warrants them, so thanks for that πŸ™‚ I have been thinking about reading this one for awhile, and I am definitely planning on it now- a great set of characters makes ALL the difference, and I love a book that can really make me think!

    1. Thank you Shannon! And no problem! I read a lot of reviews myself, so I understand how nice it is to go in blind if the book warrants that. πŸ™‚ And if you like good characters and a book that really makes you think, this is something you should definitely pick up! πŸ˜€

  7. THIS WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE RELEASES OF 2014! I’ve never read such an amazing zombie book, that not only tackles philosophical issues, but also includes action as well πŸ˜€ I really enjoyed reading it, and I agree with everything you said. The second half definitely focused a lot more on the action though, but I liked the developments all the characters were going through. The end though, I don’t know what to say about it haha. I’m still not over it!

    1. YEAH! I’m so glad to heart hat Valerie! πŸ˜€ It is quite the novel, right? xD I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed the action and philosophy in this one too! And OMG – that ending was mind-blowing, right?

  8. I have this one on my kobo and can’t wait to read it. I haven’t read a single negative review about it and my hopes for it are immense. I’m so glad that you also enjoyed this one (:

    Your review really is infuriatingly vague [; However it does only make me want the story even more. I’m so excited to delve into this story and experience it myself. I do enjoy reading books about zombies, there’s usually some very fascinating insights into human nature. This one does stand out to me as unique in the zombie genre though. The way it genre bends, as you described makes me so excited to read and see elements of more than a singular genre.

    The characters also sound amazing, both the side characters and the main one. Miss Justineau is one that I’ll totally enjoy, I feel like she’s going to be like a supportive mentor to Melanie and that the relationship between the two will be nothing short of beautiful. I could be completely wrong though, this story does seem to be a bit unpredictable.

    Fantastic review Zoe (:

    1. I hope you enjoy it Larissa! It really is a wonderful novel! The characters and the philosophy are all absolutely fantastic – and I look forward to hearing what you think of them though.

      Thank you! <3

  9. I’ve heard so many fantastic things about this book that I know I’ll have to give it a shot soon. It seems to be so unique in the genre, too, which I appreciate and I’m always looking out for strong characterization so thanks for pointing that out. Fabulous review, as always, Zoe! πŸ™‚

    1. YEAH! I’m so glad to hear that Keertana. πŸ™‚ It is definitely one of the most unique zombie books in the genre, and if you’re into creativity and strong characterization, this is a wonderful combo of those two things.

      Thank you! πŸ™‚

  10. YAY I’M GLAD YOU LIKE THIS! Because that means I’m 90% sure to like it myself, hehe. πŸ˜‰ I’ll have to see if my library has it yet, because frankly, I’ve been dyyyyying to read it for ages. I love zombie books. And I like books that crunch genre boxes and just do what they want. Plus: I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS. *dashes to library site*

    1. Hehe! πŸ˜‰ I hope your library has it because I have a feeling you’d probably like this one! Let me know, okay?

  11. What the hell is this mad book exploding out of nowhere???

    How old is Melanie? What are her ‘gifts’? Is she like Rogue or something? ZOE, STOP BEING SO VAGUE, MAN!

    This sounds quite . . . creepy. And the questions you’ve asked about saving humanity are really intriguing me and confusing me and . . . dammit, Zoe!

    So this is the weirdest zombie book in history then?

    1. Haha! πŸ˜‰

      And I’m sorry Allie but I can’t tell you! :secret: You’ll have to read this and find out for yourself! I have a feeling you’d like it though!

      I haven’t read many zombie books, but this one is quite original. It really gets over the whole “all action and no substance” aspect that most zombie books have, you know?

  12. I love any book that makes you think. Granted, sometimes I need fluff but most of the time…I love a thought-provoking story. “She’s not a special snowflake or someone who necessarily stands out in life; she’s someone ordinary, normal, that you can really connect to. She’s a determined and intelligent young lady, and her loyalty to those she loves really is admirable.” <–THIS. Love that. πŸ™‚ Fabulous review Zoe! β™₯

    1. I am so with you Cristina! Books that make you think are THE BEST! (The Giver anyone?) Although a light and fluffy read once in a while is awesome too. πŸ˜‰

      I found that wonderful as well! I hope you’re able to connect to Melanie as much as I was because she’s an awesome MC!

      Thank you! <3

  13. I can’t believe this is a YA Horror. I still have my arc and not touching it because I thought it’s a tearjerker. Gosh, for a reviewer, I’m pretty lame at reading! HAHA. Now I cannot wait to read it. I love books that makes me think.

    Fab review, Zoe!! I’m excited!!! HAHA.

    1. It’s not really “horror” – I think the only reason it’s categorized as such is because of the zombies, you know? But it definitely is a bit of a tearjerker too! πŸ˜‰

      Thank you! Glad to hear you’re excited! <33

  14. Okay this one wasn’t on my radar at all but now i feel like I NEED IT IN MY LIFE! A zombie book? A philosophical one at that.? This one sounds different and I can’t wait to read it!

    1. It is definitely intriguing Missie! πŸ™‚ Even if the 2nd half wasn’t as strong as the first (in my opinion at least!), I think that the first half was strong enough to carry it along.

    1. It is DEFINITELY cool Chyna! πŸ˜‰ Haha! I can’t really say anything more than that – you’ll have to read the book to find out! πŸ˜‰ (I know…I’m so evil!)

  15. I don’t read many books that make me ”think.” I think I enjoy reading for pleasure not for philosophical reasons and stuff. It may not be like that with this book but, I don’t know, I just have a feeling that it’s slow, simple and that I won’t like it, even though you wrote a great detailed review. Maybe it’s because of the cover? Hmm.. πŸ˜›

    1. I love books that make me think, but they’re so hard to find in YA. I completely understand why you might feel that way though! It’s definitely not slow or simple, so maybe that will calm your fears down a bit?

  16. Melanie is a very special girl.

    HELL YEAH I AM. Lol but I am seriously really curious about why she needs to be strapped up when she goes to bed. MUST READ THIS.

    Lovely review, Zoe! <33

    1. 😂 BAHAH! #BestCommentEver

      I look forward to seeing what you think when you read it Mel! It’s really intriguing.

      Thank you!

  17. I love your review, Zoe! I have always been avoiding horror books, but somehow this one sounds really interesting, and I can’t wait to get a copy πŸ˜€ I love the way you write this review. It’s very lovely! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thank you Jillian! πŸ˜€ I am so glad to hear this is intriguing to you even if it’s not necessarily “your genre.” I look forward to seeing what you think when you read it. πŸ™‚

  18. Yay, you are another person who has given this high praise Zoe, I can’t wait to read it! I love how it is thought provoking and a psychological thrillers and I still have no idea how the zombies fit in, but I’m keen to find out. Lovely review Zoe!

    1. If I remember correctly, I know how much you like thought-provoking books Jeann, and if so, I think this is right up your alley. πŸ™‚ I look forward to seeing what you think!

  19. Well, if I wasn’t convinced before you have certainly convinced me now, Zoe! I am so getting this one during my next book buy spree. I like that the mc isn’t portrayed as the typical special snowflake, and it’s interesting what you said about humanity. I like when books make you question humanity, and far people who go ,etc. Wonderful review. πŸ˜€

    1. YEAH! I am so glad to hear it Renu! πŸ™‚ Melanie is such a great protagonist, and I hope you enjoy her as much as I did. I love thought-provoking books too – especially in regards to humanity – so if you’re the same way, I think you’ll like this! Thank you! πŸ˜€

  20. Gosh, like Dangerous Boys, all I’ve been hearing about this book are amazing things. I’m so happy that this time I DO have an ARC in my Kindle, so I can read it soon! Eeeeep! I think what I like more than anything else is how unique and original you said it is. There are so many zombie books around these days that they all end up being pretty much the same, with just differently-named characters, so I can’t wait to see how different this one will be.

    I’m curious about Melanie, too! I don’t know, I expected her to be kind of aloof, considering her situation and how “special” the blurb says she is. Very happy to know that she’s still very much relatable. And yay for awesome side characters! Can’t get enough of ’em. πŸ™‚

    I have to admit that it isn’t often I come across books that make me think. Even though they are sci-fi and have some pretty logical explanations behind some of their elements, they don’t necessarily make me think too deeply about it, so it’s always a pleasant surprise when I come across a book that does exactly that. I heard from Wendy (The Midnight Garden) about how thought-provoking this book is as well, and I’m really looking forward to this particular expect.

    Okay, I’m basically looking forward to everything in the book. You know what… I say screw those ARCs, I’m getting to this one first! xD

    1. YEAH! I am so glad you have an ARC Megan! πŸ™‚ I hope you enjoy it! πŸ˜€ I loved how original this one is, because like you said, there are so many zombie books being released right now, and this one really stands out from the crowd.

      I love books that are thought provoking too (The Giver!), but they’re so hard to find. This one definitely fits the bill though! πŸ˜€

      YEAH! Glad to hear it! Looking forward to seeing what you think of it. Let me know when you finish, okay?

  21. Dang it! I just saw this book in the book store yesterday and believe it or not I haven’t heard much about this book. It’s kinda weird considering the hype. So of course I didn’t pick it up. And of course I regret it now. Anyway your review is great and It’s been a while since a book really made me THINK. Plus I’m glad there is no “such a special snowflake” business going on. And if this is a good zombie book I’m sure I won’t be disappointed! πŸ™‚

    1. Honestly Anna, I don’t blame you! I almost put it off too! This is the kind of book most people put off because of the zombie aspect; thinking it was just another action-filled zombie adventure. The surprising thing is that it is absolutely unique and original; but it really takes reviews to convince you to pick it up ultimitely.

      I hope you enjoy it! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by! <3

  22. You’ve got me thinking already of all the possibilities this book has in store. “It makes you wonder how far we’d go to save humanity” – that’s really going to get my mind going today. I can’t believe they strap this girl down. I don’t understand how this can be a zombie book. I’m glad you kept it vague. You’ve intrigued me enough to want to go look for this book right away.

    1. I am so glad to hear you’re intrigued Adriana! It’s definitely a wonderful, unique book and I look forward to seeing what you think of it!

  23. Wow, I did NOT realise this was a zombie novel Zoe. I LOVE zombie novels/movies haha so I will need to pick this one up just for that.

    I’ve heard a lot of hype for this book, so I’m glad that you enjoyed it. The mystery behind it is already intriguing to me, and I reallllllyyyyy want to know what happens. Like, A LOT! I’m surprised that the first part is actually better than the second, this doesn’t usually happen!

    The message behind the novel is actually quite chilling, especially as you read about the horror in the news recently. I will definitely need to pick this book up. Thanks for the brilliant and insightful review lovely. xx

    1. EITHER DID I JOY! Haha! I am so glad to hear that this sounds up your alley. πŸ™‚ If you like the sound of the mystery and philosophy behind it from what you’ve already heard, I have a feeling you’d probably end up enjoying it in the actual book too. πŸ˜€ I can’t wait to hear what you think about it when / if you decide to read it! Thank you! :kissing_heart:

    1. I believe it’s a standalone Irish. πŸ™‚ I am glad to hear you’re intrigued, and I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did. xD

  24. Damn!!! This came in to my library as a new book today, as I was adding it to the system, I kept debating taking it home or not. I ended up not and put it on one of our displays. Changed my mind by the end of the day but it was already gone. I have a ton of regret right now because you have made me rather desperate to read it!

  25. This is a zombie book?? I read the first couple of chapters then decided that I was in the mood for a fluffy romance and haven’t looked back. I really should. Thanks for the review, Zoe πŸ™‚

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