Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth was handed to me by a friend... actually, it was more thrust at me, pages already open, ready to pull me in, with an excited exclamation of "This book is FANTASTIC!"
The name alone would have had me hooked. The Forest of Hands and Teeth? It sounds mysterious, it sounds horrifying, it sounds painful and inescapable!
The book doesn't need the catchy title, though, because the main character, Mary, is a strong, determined young woman who *knows* there is more to life than the caged-cattle existence she is living.
This is confirmed for her when the mysterious Gabrielle arrives from outside of the village.
This would be a good time for a bit of backstory. This book is set years (possibly hundreds) after a zombie apocalypse, which in and of itself is refreshing. These people already have figured out how to survive, and are very set in their ways. Our old history (the life we live now, which is known as 'before the Return') is forgotten by all but a select few, who keep the truth of it well hidden. This village is so far removed from the rest of the world that most of them don't even believe in the ocean... and more importantly, most of them believe they are the last people on Earth... so the arrival of an outsider (who is kept hidden from almost everyone) confirms Mary's belief in there being more to be had of life.
If you're looking for a lot of back detail on the powers that be, you're not going to get it. They remain mysterious and full of knowledge that Mary cannot piece together because she doesn't even know where to begin. However, any clued in reader who has ever seen or read a Zombie Apocalypse piece can pretty easily formulate a rough sketch of what happened... and how this village ended up where they are today.
Now, this part doesn't really break from the norm of a zombie story, but... as you probably suspected, Mary's world is disrupted by a zombie invasion into their little village (although the circumstances leading up to the zombies breaching the wall is fantastically intriguing)... and here in lies my only "Well, isn't that convenient" moment of the story... I won't elaborate... but I will say it has to do with who ends up gathered at the fence.
Where this book could have easily fallen into the dregs of every other teenage 'coming of age-love triangle-twilightish drama'... it does not. Mary stays true to herself, questions her relationships no more than one would expect, doesn't make you want to gag with silly teenage sentiment... and most importantly, is unshakable in her beliefs.
I hope this wasn't too vague... I suppose if anyone stumbles across this blog and has a question, then please ask it!
I loved this book, and I recommend it.
Oh, and it has a sequel due out next year.