Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Review: 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; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future - between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?
In complete contrast to The Beautiful Dead this book contains zombies that are truly terrifying. The ones that are only interested in eating you alive, the fresher the 'meat' the better. Chilling to the bone. I was slightly concerned about reading this, knowing my dislike of gore and vivid imagination, the threat of nightmares imminent. Although the book does contain shudder worthy imagery and some heart pounding moments, it doesn't just contain that element within the narrative. What I found was a pleasant *maybe not the correct choice of word for a zombie book* surprise.
Written in first person narrative from Mary's perspective. A young woman who has grown up in a tiny village in the middle of a large Forest filled with zombies. Isolated from the rest of the world, raised to follow the rules of The Sisterhood without question. This has been the way of the village for generations. However, Mary has been told tales passed down through the family of how the world used to be before the infection took place. These tales make her questions their way of life and ponder the possibility of other villages beyond the forest. She is especially drawn to the thought of the ocean. In my mind I equated the ocean as symbolism for freedom.
The descriptions and imagery within the narrative are extremely vivid and detailed. The movie I had playing within my imagination had to be toned down to accommodate my dislike of gore.
The plot starts at the point where Mary losses both her parents at different times to the infection. The story deals with her relationship with her brother, which implodes upon her mothers death. I can totally relate to this. Due to my own experiences I found this aspect very upsetting, no way did I expect to be shedding tears when reading about zombies. I found Mary's treatment at the hands of her brother and the 2 male romantic interests, Travis and Harry completely appalling. I just could not understand why they would behave in such a manner when they were supposed to care about her.
I found the descriptions and actions of The Sisterhood very scary. I their own way they were just as frightening as the zombies. They ran the village as a dictatorship, allowing no freedom of thought or action. I could understand in part that this was mainly for the protection of the villagers; but it was taken to extremes with the Sisterhood justifying atrocious acts under the guise of protection. They appeared intoxicated with the power they held over the villagers. The snippets of the history behind the village really whetted my appetite to find out more about the causes of the infection and whether anything could be done to stop it.
The narrative was filled with heart pounding agitation. Adrenaline pumping tension seemed to jump right out of the pages. I had to force myself to put the book down in order to go to sleep. My stomach literally turned with panic at one point (no spoilers).
I had the feeling after getting to know Mary via the narrative, that she was one of these people that would never be truly happy. She would always be searching for something. For her the search for happiness would be as elusive as finding the end of a rainbow. By the end of the book I came to the conclusion that I just did not like Mary. I found her shallow and self-centred. I was left pondering as to how many people she was willing to sacrifice in order to achieve her own goals.
This book for me was a *pleasant* surprise as regards to the plot, not just terrifying zombies but relationships, family and the quest for happiness all woven together into a compelling page turning read.