Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Carrie Ryan

In this post-apocalyptic thriller, Mary lives in a village that has been surrounded by a fence since she was born, staving off the zombies that live in the forest of hands and teeth.  It's been generations since the world has been struck down by this plague, and when Mary's own mother is infected, the stories her mother passed down to her about the vast ocean is one of the images that keeps her going in a world with few possibilities.  Mary has the option to either marry and raise a family or join the Sisterhood.  The best thing about this book is the Sisterhood.  The religious order of nuns runs the village and harbor many dark secrets: secret rooms, journals about the zombies, and knowledge about the gates just past the village that lead into the forest.  It's a really gripping mystery that is slowly unraveled in the first half of the book, before events spiral out of control.  Then it sort of becomes more of your typical zombie story.  Loved ones are bitten, they get surrounded, etc.  It's too bad that Ryan couldn't keep the momentum of the earlier chapters going throughout this entire book, but it was still quite entertaining throughout.  One of my favorite moments actually took place in later chapters, where Mary encounters a chest full of clothes and she wonders about the woman who owned them and what became of her.  It's a haunting moment going through an empty house like that, looking down at zombies amongst whom the owner might be.  I like that this takes place several years removed from the actual infection, as it makes things more interesting, especially as the main characters try to figure things out that seem so foreign, and are so familiar to us.  It's a neat book, and a good choice to read going into October.  The Forest of Hands and Teeth has also spawned two sequels so far.  The Dead-Tossed Waves is in hardcover currently, and features a new character that lives in the world that Mary lives in, with the third title, The Dark and Hollow Places, being a direct sequel to The Dead-Tossed Waves, due out March 22, 2011.

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