The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book One
Finished: Apr. 30, 2009
First Published: Mar. 10, 2009
Genre: YA, post apocalyptic fiction, horror
Reason for Reading: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.
My mother used to tell me about the ocean.
Comments: Mary's world is very small and quite simple. Her village is large enough to roam around in and grow crops but it is completely enclosed by heavy-duty wire fencing. Her world is run by the Sisterhood who guide their laws and lives through religion and the Guardians who take orders from the Sisterhood and guard the village with force. Day to day life is quaint and simple but on the other side of the fencing are the Unconsecrated and one bite from them will turn you into one yourself, so you must never get too close to the fence ....
This was a fabulous book! Initially it reminds me of the society portrayed in the movie The Village, while not exactly the same their are many parallels. Mary is a wonderful character. She has a mother who has told her stories, carried down through the generations of women in her family, of the world before and Mary especially dreams of the mysterious place called the ocean. The stories have given Mary something to hold onto and a passion not to accept her world as it is. She is a powerful, strong character. Another thing I especially like is that once we find out the reason for the apocalypse at the end of the book I found the reason so plausible that it really was scary, unlike so many books of today which use the controversial "global warming" theme that I must take with a grain of salt. The book is very well-written, the plot tense and the individual outcomes along the way not always happy. In fact, there are many quite shockingly intense scenes. The zombies are fantastic, I mean who doesn't love a great zombie book!
There are intense relationships: mother/daughter, husband/wife, friends, and blossoming new found love all in a world in which one may die at any moment. The author has shown the deepness of these relationships with a deft sweep of her pen. The one thing that bothered me about the book was that near the beginning Mary blatantly (and for no reason) states, out of the blue, that she does not believe in God. Then later on in the book she tells us the moment she stopped believing in God. This felt as if it was important and yet the subject was never voiced again. No other character's belief or non-belief was mentioned and other than making me feel sorry for Mary, it made me wonder why the author stopped short of making her point. However....
Highly recommended! I've never given two books a tie as favourite book of the month but this time I just can't not say this was my favourite although I've already said so of another book. I hate to compare to the Twilight books as this book is in a league so much higher than those but I think teachers/librarians should use the comparison to promote this book as it will appeal to the same teen audience, as well as the boys. One could call this a horror book, and it is, but it goes so much deeper into relationships between people, that anyone who can stand the gore that comes with zombies is going to be itching for next year's (2010) parallel novel. Read this book!