Oh, hai! I read books, then I write down what I think of them.
[Hey, look, another ARC! That means I paid no money for it. *maniacal laughter* It's all the fault of the publisher, Little, Brown, and of Netgalley whose clickable buttons makes it too damn easy to end up with far too many books to read. If such a thing were possible. Thanks guys!]
This is another book which has been knocking around in my feed, although unlike The Three it hasn't been a divider of opinion. They're actually a pretty good double act to read back to back; although they don't have much in common in their stories (although at least one of The Three's comp titles fits this one better), they are both intelligent, extremely readable, and both have moments which make you sit back in silent admiration at their cleverness.
There are two ways to review The Girl With All The Gifts: sticking with the information the blurb gives, or giveing the "spoiler". Some reviews do and some don't. I'm not going to be specific, but I will be referring to it in vague terms because it forms the basis of what I didn't like and I will be specifying the genre. If you really hate any kind of spoiler, know that this is a good book which manages originality in its details but not in the handling of the overall story direction; I don't care for this particular story type but I still enjoyed this book; the pacing, in particular, is excellent.
Still here? Good. After this paragraph there will be a gap, then there will be non-specific spoilers which are revealed fairly early on in the book.
The Girl With All the Gifts is a dystopian thriller/horror/suspense-y thing. I'm not going to specify the nature of the 'stope, although you should know I'd have no hesitation about doing so if this were a terrible book. It isn't. It's very good. Which makes my main complaint about it all the more frustrating.
That complaint is, as I mention, a lack of originality in the general direction of the story. In the broadest terms, we have the "Army and Civilians fail to get along while trying to survive" trope. I could point to half a dozen films, books, and TV series from the last 10 years which have done the same thing and the premise wan't new then. It is one of these ideas which each generation does in its own particular way reflecting the concerns of the time but which rarely lifts itself away from the expectations of a "spoiler" story. It's all the more frustrating because the particular way TGWATG does this is *really* good.
The characters I'm less enamoured about. Although they are well done, they, like the plot, are a little too close to the stocks of the genre. There was a predictable sub-plot I could really have done without. The exception is Melanie, the girl of the title. The authenticity of her emotions and her attachments make this book; the way they are used to drive the story give it the depth the usual suspects of this 'stope lack. The ending is near perfect.
The other thing which makes this book is the writing. It is quietly brilliant. It's pacey, unshowy, and does a great job in the first 15% of hooking you in, making you *care* about Melanie, before letting you work out the reveal. If James Patterson or Dan Brown are a Hollywood blockbuster, The Girl With All The Gifts is District 9.
If I'd known what this was, I likely wouldn't have requested it. It's not what I think of as my sort of thing but I did enjoy it a lot, despite a short slump after the brilliant beginning, and it definitely deserves all the praise. Although I don't care for the central idea (or the initially well-trodden route it took), the way it was done more than made up for it.
2.5 stars for the plot (with 5 for the final scene - I *loved* it), 4 for the execution, I'm going to give this 3.5 stars overall, and I do recommend it.