Monday, November 23, 2009

Mary fights against death in THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan

OK Junkies, I've been debating whether or not to use common archetypal vernacular to tell you what this book is about. On the one hand, I don't want to cheapen Ryan's literary approach to a familiar setting and turn you off from this amazing book. But, on the other hand, I would hate for anyone to find themselves, as I did, all alone at night in a new house reading about something much more terrifying than expected. Maybe I'll decide by the end of this post.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is dark, frightening, and beautiful. Mary is coming of age in a village, that according to the Sisterhood, is home to the last survivors of humanity. Mary's world exists several generations after The Return and the Sisterhood enforces rules and traditions to continue the human race.

Guardians protect and reinforce the fences surrounding the village. Beyond these fences is the Forest of Hands and Teeth, which is filled with the Unconsecrated who mindlessly paw and push themselves against the fence.

Mary's life changes forever when her mother is infected and becomes Unconsecrated, and Mary is thrust into the unyielding Sisterhood. As Mary searches to uncover the Sisterhood's secrets, she also discovers a forbidden love.

Mary must choose between duty and love, and between safety and her dreams. Not only is Mary brave in fighting against traditions and expectations, but she is hard-core in swinging an axe and scythe, decapitating death itself.

Mary lives in a horrifying world, surrounded by death. Yet she has the courage to hope for something more than simple safety and contentment. While reading, I intermittently wanted to kiss Mary and kick her in the teeth for deciding that being with the man she loves isn't enough for her. She risks her life (and those of her friends and family, eek) to pursue her dream and chase after hope.

Mary is courageous, and pretty darn selfish, in searching for a meaning to life beyond surviving, in finding a reason to live amongst so much death.

OK, Junkies. Basically, this book is a coming-of-age-love-story that takes place a few generations after the zombie apocalypse. Mary is a kick-ass heroine who decapitates the living dead better than her male counterparts.

But Carrie Ryan tells this story beautifully. Like the characters, you forget about the Unconsecrated relentlessly clawing at the fences. This story is about a young girl's search for happiness and her refusal to accept the role society has designed for her.

Read The Forest of Hand and Teeth, but lock the doors and turn on all the lights in the house before you do.

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