The Girl with All the Gifts Book Review and “Relationship Reading”

GirlWithAlltheGiftsLike most authors, reading is one of my favorite pastimes. I’ve always had this romanticized dream of meeting a man who wouldn’t think lying in bed and reading to each other was overly dorky. For the first time, I (sort of) realized that dream with Mr. Perfect! On a recent trip back to my hometown of Arnold, Nebraska, we decided to spend the five-hour drive listening to an audio book instead of the radio. We selected The Girl with All the Gifts because of the high ratings on Audible,’s audio book platform acquired for $300 million in 2008. Later we realized that this book was over 13 hours long, so it ended up taking us several car rides and many nights listening on the couch before we finished it.

But what a treat! Author M. R. Carey adds a chilling twist to the tried-and-true zombie apocalypse tale based upon real science in which cordyceps parasites take over the bodies of their hosts and eventually fruit, spread, and populate. One of the more impressive things about this book was the depth of the characters in this book—though the cast was small, each had a very clear goal they fought to realize and a distinctive voice that implants the reader into the brains of the narrators. The book is a bit verbose at times, and I can’t say the ending turned out as I hoped, but overall it was an excellent read/listen. ****4/5 Stars.

Listening to the book as a couple made me think a lot about the impact of reading on relationships. At first, I assumed it would be like watching a TV series together. But as we all know, translating the written (or spoken) word into pictures in our brains takes a little more effort than watching television. Perhaps because of this extra “work,” this experience felt far more interactive. There were many times when I paused the book to ask about some element of the plot. We talked about the book more than we do TV shows, wondering aloud whether or not they characters would make it safely to their destination or whether they were about to be killed.

The experience was particularly powerful to me right now, since Mr. Perfect has been working the night shift. He typically leaves around nine o’clock to head in to work, so listening to this book together felt like something we could share in the limited time we had each night. In fact, it almost felt like a private joke—we laughed together at the funny bits in the book and worried together about the fate of our favorite people. I think it’s because investing the time and effort into listening to or reading a book together creates a kind of special bond.

We’ve already talked about starting another book. Maybe this time we’ll read it aloud instead of having someone read it to us!

Has anyone out there ever done a little “relationship reading” of your own? What did you think? How did it make you feel?


S. M. Peterson