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  1. #1

    The Girl With All the Gifts

    I'm currently reading The Girl With All the Gifts, which I found through Goodreads 2014 awards. It was one of the top Horror books, and I occasionally enjoy those so I thought I would give it a try. I wanted to know what people think. I am loving this book, but have several comments. The first is that I would not call it horror - there's almost no scary content, and the scenes that might be scary are written in a way that seems to purposely make them less scary.

    The concerted effort to tone down the scary parts, an easy read nature (despite occasional tough vocabulary) and a young protagonist make it read like young adult. It isn't marketed as young adult, but I definitely think it falls into that category. I've read several reviews by people who said "My teenage daughter read this and loved it!". Any thoughts on whether this is young adult? Or whether it qualifies as horror? Or just what did you think? No spoilers please, I'm only halfway!

  2. #2
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Again, YA is a selling category, not a style of writing. If it's put out by YA publishers and/or sold in the YA section of the book store, it's YA. Otherwise, it's not, but teens are not forbidden from reading it. The Girl With All the Gifts is put out by Orbit in the adult market and is not YA. (It's entirely possible in some countries it will be sold as YA, but currently is not in the main English markets.)

    I gather that some call it horror because it's a post-apocalyptic future with zombie-like folk in it and the assumption is that zombies makes it horror because zombies are considered automatically horrific. Whether it is or is more dark fantasy or SF apocalyptic thriller, you'll have to give us a hint when you finish it. It got a lot of high praise.

  3. #3
    Hmm, maybe some people consider "horror" the same way - as a selling category, instead of a style of writing? Did Orbit market it as horror? I question some calling it horror because it is post apocalyptic (many books are post-apocalyptic and are not considered horror) or just because it has zombies (same reason, there are tons of zombie books not considered horror). You have me thinking it was simply marketed/categorized that way by publishers or sellers, rather than identified as horror by readers. I'm interested if anyone else has read it to see if they detect any horror elements.
    Whether it is or is more dark fantasy or SF apocalyptic thriller, you'll have to give us a hint when you finish it. It got a lot of high praise.
    So far its a love story between two lonely people, like Warm Bodies, with zombies as more of a setting than a plot. Of course, there's a lot of plot threads and one is a very interesting zombie angle, but I suspect it resonates with people because of the love. Carey writes characters and emotions up there with the very best.

  4. #4
    I thought this looked pretty good, but I never pay so much for a book unless its a subsequent book in a series and I'm really looking forward to it.

    Price has barely moved in the however long its been out, so I guess I'm just not reading it. (Anyone seen this book in an electronic library or something?)

  5. #5
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phil_geo View Post
    Hmm, maybe some people consider "horror" the same way - as a selling category, instead of a style of writing? Did Orbit market it as horror? I question some calling it horror because it is post apocalyptic (many books are post-apocalyptic and are not considered horror) or just because it has zombies (same reason, there are tons of zombie books not considered horror). You have me thinking it was simply marketed/categorized that way by publishers or sellers, rather than identified as horror by readers. I'm interested if anyone else has read it to see if they detect any horror elements.

    So far its a love story between two lonely people, like Warm Bodies, with zombies as more of a setting than a plot. Of course, there's a lot of plot threads and one is a very interesting zombie angle, but I suspect it resonates with people because of the love. Carey writes characters and emotions up there with the very best.
    Horror is a selling category, not a style of writing. It contains SF stories, fantasy stories, and non-spec stories that have horrific elements as the central elements. The publisher isn't marketing it as horror, but as a dystopia SF thriller. Any story with zombies may get called horror by some because zombies are seen as an automatic horror element, although they are often used in fantasy as just one of several types of creatures. Likewise, some people feel a post-apocalyptic Earth setting automatically makes a story science fiction, even though there are many post-apocalyptic fantasy novels.

    In this case, it is a post-apocalyptic SF thriller, and it's in the same neighborhood as books like I Am Legend, A Canticle for St. Leibowitz, The Chrysalids and The Passage. In terms of selling, with the fungus-zombie angle, that does accommodate cross-marketing with horror. But I wouldn't worry about the various labels too much.

    The book sounds interesting because it has a fair amount of psychological and biological research involved across a nightmare landscape.

    The book only came out in June, Art, so it's in hardcover, trade paper and e-book. This summer, there is likely to be a mass market paperback and a drop in the e-book price.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Any story with zombies may get called horror by some because ...
    This was the idea behind this thread - obviously any story can get called horror, but the question is who is calling it horror on Goodreads? Is it the readers? I disagree with that categorization, but unfortunately someone will have had to have read the book to have the discussion I was looking for.

  7. #7
    I thought I would update this now that I have finished the book. I would say the last 20% does have a horror feel about it, and it is all the more pronounced due to the light, intentionally-unscary first half of the book. I'm sure the tonal switch was intentional and was very well done by the author. In fact, I would say the last 80 pages are truly unsettling with the final scene true horror. I think the strong part of the author is characterization, but her plotting and pacing are very good as well. I highly recommend it as a well written quick read with more depth than you may think at first. Given how very popular The City of Stairs was this year, I'll mention that I think many people who enjoyed The City of Stairs would enjoy this as well due to the similar characterization.

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