"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."
The Girl with All the Gifts is one of those books that I couldn't put down, and then didn't want to move on from when it was over. It combines real science with psychology and development to create a believable future world with well-developed characters. The tension is constant, gripping and served the plot well. And the pacing was perfect.
I could easily go on and on about how I loved this book, so I'll try to be succinct here:
The characters were universally three-dimensional, well-developed, and morally grey. There was one I loved, and one I hated, but even in those instances I understood the sticky and shining parts of their character that drove their decisions.
The world is our own, in a plausible future. The buildup for the first reveal is delicious, even though it's not a surprise, so I won't go too much into it. Suffice to say, the author did his homework, and that makes this concept all the more terrifying. I suggest, after reading, you Google the term and then let that possible evolutionary reality sink in.
The narrative voice shifts between the primary five characters, and each voice is unique, driven, and not at all superfluous. In fact, there wasn't a superfluous scene or line in this book- everything drove the plot.
The pacing was like watching a really good movie. The stakes and tension increased continuously, without ever feeling like the action scenes dominated the narrative. And it was such that, in between listening to chapters, I would get twitchy and startle at noises.
I listened to this on audiobook, and the narrator (Finty Williams) did a fantastic job. There was no annoying background music thrown in (have I mentioned how much I despise when audiobook publishers put music in a book? DESPISE IT). It only took about three chapters for me to visualize each character easily with Finty's change in tone, so I had zero issues understanding who was narrating at any given time.
It didn't make me cry, but it did make me yell at the iPod (a few times), as you do when a character makes a bad decision in a movie, or when you think the best character is in mortal jeopardy. And after it ended, I didn't want to leave it and listen to the next book. Even after I started the next audiobook, my mind kept returning to this book, and wondering the 'what if' after the end of the plot, and analyzing the characters, and projecting what that world would be like in twenty years.
So, yes, I recommend it for everyone. If you like a good book, you should read this. Even more so if you like ensemble casts, well-developed characters, great pacing, apocalyptic scenarios, true emotional impact, psychology, science, speculative fiction, creepy things, and descriptive writing.