01 March 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

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....

I first got interested in this author because I fell in love with her story, Bougainvillea in Zombies vs. Unicorns. I am so glad I looked for other work by the author, because The Forest of Hands and Teeth is truly a wonderful, horrible book. Wonderful in that Mary is a realistic, vibrant character who is only trying to make a better life for herself. Wonderful because the descriptions in the book are vivid and the language is evocative. And wonderful because the plot is surprising yet not out of left field, the worldbuilding is thoughtful and has a solid base in science, culture, and geography, and the writing structure is eloquent and works well to draw the reader into the story. But the book is horrible as well. Mostly the book is horrible because of the zombies. Horrible because there are places where you truly feel the despair and lack of hope of the characters. Horrible because of the choices the characters have to make, and the characters die and are left to horrible fates, and Mary's pain is so palpable you can't help but empathize as a reader. However, as horrible as the plot gets sometimes, this book walks the fine line between lack of hope and hopeless. There is always a draw to keep going, both for the characters and the reader, and there really isn't a moment when you want to give up in reading the book because you just can't feel that the situation has no escape and you can't bear to watch the characters get picked off. I highly recommend this book as heavier reading, and I will be looking for its sequels as soon as I can stomach them.

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