I never listen to audiobooks. I don’t say that lightly, I have always wanted to like audiobooks but I am really picky about he narration. I need an audiobook that has a really strong narration that will make the book sound less like a lecture and more like a radio play.
So when I saw the task: “Read an audiobook that has won an Audie Award” I wasn’t going to make my decision lightly. It came down to a couple of books that I had been really wanted to read, but when I saw The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, and heard a sample of the narration I knew this was the book that would keep me captivated.
Here is the back cover:
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.
At first glance, the plot of the novel didn’t sound like something I would pick up on first glance. I am not usually a fan of the zombie genre. Once this one started though I quickly got into it. While following her journey, the author weaves science and mythology in with the zombie plot and through several points of view.
It regularly alternates between Melanie, Sargent Eddie Parks, Dr. Caroline Caldwell, Helen Justineau, and Private Kieran Gallagher. While it seems pretty cut and dry as to who the good guys and bad guys are the lines continue to blur until ultimately you are left not hating any of the main characters.
The story is written in such a way that when you reach the end of a chapter you want to immediately turn the page and start the next one. There are sections that I can’t imagine reading on paper, including some of Dr. Caldwell’s observations and some battle sequences.
The ending seems to be a big point of contention with the book overall. I loved the ending of the book, mostly because it didn’t tie things up into a nice little bow. I loved the illusion of Melanie as Pandora that is woven throughout. The ending to me, is perfect for that reason. Melanie has a curiosity that is akin to Pandora and in the end she makes a similar choice that has dear consequences.
Not only does the Pandora myth fit, but if you remember that Melanie wrote a story about rescuing Miss Justineau, her teacher, then the end works for Melanie. She gets what she wanted from the start. To stay with Miss Justineau while also saving her from the spore storm.
I am glad I picked this up as an audiobook . The audiobook version is narrated by Finty Williams, an English Actress, and her performance makes the book. Not only does she read with a cadence that works for the book but she gives each of the five main characters their own voices whether it is the moral and repentant schoolteacher, the analytical scientist, or a tough-as-nails soldier.
The result is a stunning performance that is astonishing to listen to. From the first hour I kept casting and recasting the characters as information became available. I went back and fourth a lot as to who I would cast to play who, but then I finally settled on this imaginary casting:
Mia Talerico as Melanie
Ashley Madekwe as Helen Justineau
Olivia Williams as Caroline Caldwell
Kevin McKidd as Eddie Parks
Fran Kranz as Kieran Gallagher
Since the audiobook sounded a lot like a radio play I think this was the perfect format to listen to it on. I am not sure I would have enjoyed it nearly half as much if I was reading it on paper. The middle did lull a bit but Finty’s narration saved the scenes that had even the most dry ethical quandary.
I was surprised to find that later this year, this book will be made into a movie starring Glenn Close and Gemma Arterton. I am sort of excited for this movie but I am also a little afraid to see how it is going to be adapted.
What you think of The Girl with All the Gifts? Share you opinion and let me know if there are any other audiobooks I should check out by leaving a comment below!
Final Rating: 4.5/5