Book: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Number of Pages: 308
Mary has always known never to get too close to the fence that surrounds her village. The Unconsecrated are on the other side. With just one bite, you're doomed to a slow death and then to rise as Unconsecrated yourself, mindless, heartless, soulless, nothing left but the appetite for human flesh.
Yet, unlike her friends and family, Mary wants more. She yearns to understand the Forest of Hands and Teeth, to have choices other than the ones offered her in her tiny village, to be able to marry Travis instead of his brother Harry, and most of all to see the ocean. But everyone tells her that can never be. How much will Mary risk for her dreams? And how much will she lose in pursuit of them?
Why Did I Hype?: A marvelous title (I'm such a sucker for good titles) and lots of blog buzz.
Live-Up-to-the-Hype Score: 9/10
For a book about zombies, this story had a surprisingly slow pace. There are a few gory and hideous scenes, but most of it is either trying to live life in the tenuous safety of the village or fleeing the Unconsecrated. The effect is dull constant fear, interspersed with moments of sheer terror.
But then, this is what everyday life is like for Mary's people. There's a section late in the book where Mary and her beloved Travis create a safe haven for themselves. But even as they relax a little, they can never forget that exceedingly nasty death waits just outside.
As the book went on, Mary's dream of the ocean began to seem more and more like a cuddly toy, clutched close in defense against the increasing grimness of her life. But then, it's not like her other options are so hot. Maybe it's that darkness, the sense of thousands of rocks and hard places, unceasing losses and no safe havens, that are the reason I can never enjoy zombie movies. Although the protagonist always makes it to see the dawn, there's a sense that they may have seen too much and lost too many to ever find true peace.
I'm told this is the first in a series, and depending on where Carrie Ryan takes us and how well I've recovered, I may pick up the next one. But then again, maybe I'll wait and see what others think first.