I started The Girl with All the Gifts and I sped past the beginning in a flurry of excitement. This died just short of half way through. The exact point where I thought ‘Well this went downhill quickly’, was when we’re with two characters on a roof in a desperate situation and they’ve had a bit to drink, and they’re looking out over the world, and one character unexpectedly vomits exposition onto the other character.
But I’ll retrace my steps, the beginning I have to say I was very impressed with. The opening narrative was very clean and original with a very clear focus on a central, very emotionally charged, relationship. Exactly my kind of thing. I rubbed my hands together in excited delight. So while I didn’t find it thrilling (a server drawback for a thriller some might say, but one I shrugged off as I have no strong feelings for the genre), it was certainly engaging. I wrote off the lack of thrill even more at the start, as a friend has told me to read the book, on the premise it does a great job of wrong footing you. This was another realization that sunk in my stomach in the rooftop exposition scene, perhaps my mind works in different ways, but I never felt wrong footed, or particularly surprised by events.
Okay that is a lie, I was surprised by some events, but unfortunately I found them to be events that, to me at least, made very little sense. There were about three of these events in total, that stemmed from character motivations that either didn’t reconcile with their other behaviours, or in one case was just bat bonkers mental. I will be the first to hold up my hand and admit I can be a cold fish, so the first of these events, which was a very emotional response, I simply let slide, running with the assumption that that move was for only the humans among us to understand. I only started to get a disapproving taste in my mouth when a character I very much understood, also a clinical cold fish, pulled the same stunt.
A separate note that doesn’t really flow from any of my other points, but one I feel I must express. The moment I had to put the book down and have a little frustrated eye-knuckles moment was when we had our obligatory sex scene. I’m not really sure why it was there, or how it happened. It left me rather confused and unsatisfied. Rather like my own sex scenes.
Now I waffle about this so very much not because it was a bad book, it wasn’t, by any stretch, I was just very disappointed after a very stellar first half, when the narrative moved away from its emotional focus and some threads fell off the short bus. Or however that saying goes.
I would still give this book a recommended stamp, for the writing style, which I found rather delightful and for Melanie, who I thought was wonderful. Unfortunately the books short comings look all the worse for being next to some very impressive strengths.