The Forest of Hands and Teeth
by Carrie Ryan
In Mary's world, there are simple truths.My Thoughts: Here, ladies and gentlemen, we have a dystopian, post-apocolyptic zombie novel that is book one of a trilogy. To me, it's a winner already!
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 choose 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? -(summary from author's website)
Mary lives in a walled village surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth, which is filled with zombies after some unmentioned world-changing apocolyptic event. The wall that keeps the villagers protected also keeps them confined, as they are subject to the rules set by the bizarre and secretive Sisterhood and the village's military order, the Guardians, who are also charged with protecting the wall.
Despite the fact that the Sisterhood tells everyone that their village is the last habitation of humans left on Earth, Mary suspects that there are others out there and she dreams of seeing the ocean. She has heard of the beauty of the blue water from stories her mother and grandmother told her and believes that if she can just make it to the ocean, she will have arrived to a place where there are no zombies and she will be safe. One day, the unthinkable happens and zombies find a way into the village. Mary and a few of her friends escape into the forest while the zombies destroy the rest of the village. What they find as they travel through the forest does not surprise Mary, but when she finally finds the ocean she is both shocked and thrilled.
I applaud Carrie Ryan for being a girl that writes about zombies...and doing it well. I love them for some reason. I realize that my grandmother would tell me it is terribly unladylike to read this stuff, but I am a sucker for something like this. This book was so good to me that if I would have had the next book here with me, I would have immediately picked it up and started it, even though I very rarely read books in a series back to back.
The subject of zombies is harsh. There is nothing soft and pretty about undead people eating other people, or flesh falling off, or shuffling their feet, or making moanful sounds because they can't talk. There is nothing soft and pretty about people running for their lives so they won't be bitten or scratched and become infected. I get that. But Ms. Ryan writes in a way that is sort of soft, and I think it is very cool. There is a super great story on top of all the dead-ness, and it is a good one. I very much like Mary as a character. She thinks of herself as a weak person, but I see her as very strong. She is stuck in an impossible predicament and finds a way out of it...where she is going, she is never sure, but she intends to survive. And she is able to take a few of her friends with her while the rest of her village falls. Mary also deals with issues surrounding losing her parents, her brother shunning her, and being in a strange love triangle of sorts. She is very complex and quite interesting. Since we know she made it out of the village, I cannot wait to see what she will be doing in the next book, The Dead Tossed Waves. You better believe I'll be reading it very shortly.
Would I recommend this book? I already have to several people! It is a quick, easy read. It is beautifully written with beautiful language that flows very well. There is a beautiful story with a wonderful complex character on top of the savage undead zombie plot that characterizes the trilogy. It is slightly creepy but not too scary. If you like stories like this, definitely grab it and read it. If you are not into this sort of thing, or if you are strictly an adult fiction lover, I would probably stick to what I know and love. Me, though, I loved it and can't wait for the next one.