The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
(from the back of the book)
In Mary’s world, there are simple truths.
The Sisterhood always knows best.
The Guardians will protect and serve.
The Unconsecrated will never relent.
And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
But slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
Now she must chose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?
I like that this book took a slightly different tack to go at the zombie genre. Instead of the beginning of the crisis it is many years later. By this time people have built villages and started their lives again but it is with the Unconsecrated just on the other side of a fence. The constant presence of the zombies paired with the everyday lives of the people in the village give the book an oppressive and creepy feel. In the main character, Mary, you can feel the desire for something more and you are frustrated along with her when she is alone in her feelings. You admire her resolve because she is the only one willing to look any father than the surface at all the things people have believed, without proof, for years. But I don’t like her. And as the book went along I liked her less and less. A lot of the time it seems she is the only one that matters in her world even though friends and family are in the same fight for their lives. I had trouble caring what happened to her and even felt that the group would fair better without her. I want to be able to like the heroine, and I couldn’t. The story itself seemed to be broken into two parts, the zombies and the romance. You would have scenes of action and then everything would stop to accommodate the love triangle, romance section. It bogged down the narrative and made some places in the middle drag. A few times I felt the book was making a point of some mystery, went to great lengths to draw our attention to it, but then it didn’t go anywhere and there was no resolution. I know there will be sequels, and I can only hope they explain, but after all the set-up to be left hanging on almost everything is a let down. Despite all of this it still managed to hold my attention. I thought there was potential there for something and I was waiting for it. Unfortunately I don’t think most of the potential was realized. There was something about the book that made me want to keep reading but there were also things that aggravated me too. It has its faults but it does manage to paint a very grim future and you have to wonder if there is any hope at all. I kept reading looking for the hope because if the fate of the human race rests with this group of kids bumbling through the Forest, we are all in a lot of trouble.