A big thank you to Alexa from Alexa Loves Books for her guest review for Zombie Week!
My copy is from: Joli of Actin’ Up with Books (She was my Broke & Bookish Secret Santa!)
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?
Though I read a zombie book previously, it was light zombie fare and nothing really too creepy. I’m wary of reading zombie books precisely because the idea of reading about dead people coming back to life just makes me squirm uncomfortably a little bit.
Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth genuinely deserves to be recognized as being the book that has now changed my mind about zombies and the undead. While there is a lot of creepiness and a very haunting tone to the novel that leaves you on edge, there is also the emphasis on survival, love and believing in something you can’t even see.
Mary is a walking contradiction of characteristics. She played herself off as meek and mild for a long while, but then suddenly, the passionate, rebellious, adventurous side of her explodes and you are left completely stunned. It’s typical of every single person to have multiple sides to their personalities, s watching Mary flit back and forth between passivity and aggression, fear and bravery, contentment and longing is both slightly disturbing and completely understandable to me.
What I could admire about her was her tenacity in wanting to simply know and understand everything, as well as her belief in something that she had only heard about but never seen. It is a blend of both a practical and imaginative nature, and Carrie Ryan demonstrates it particularly well through Mary.
There are, of course, many other characters that we meet in the book: Travis & Harry (brothers who have been Mary’s friends since childhood), Cass (Mary’s best friend), and Jed & Beth (Mary’s brother and his wife).
Apart from being, at its core, a book about zombies that has large doses of creepiness (especially when zombies start coming after everyone), the book really is about a journey. It is simply about Mary’s journey of self-discovery.
At the start, Mary is simply content to do as the Sisters say and follow the rules of the village. But as more and more things begin to occur, she suddenly challenges the belief system, the rules and what she thought was all there was to her life. I always enjoy reading books that follow the character’s growth and development on their personal journeys (whether literal or figurative) and this was no exception.
One last thing: the ending of the book is satisfying, in its own right, but it is also quite unsettling.
The Writing Style
Carrie Ryan simply does a wonderful job of writing a book that is extra creepy. The book had me nervous, scared and worried about zombies and when they would start attacking the characters, and the descriptions of the zombies and attacks are vivid enough to scare me. It was really scary and creepy and disturbing – but not enough to deter me from reading.
Occasionally, there would be lulls in the action. These slow-moving parts, however, were a great contrast to the action-filled, fast-paced ones and I thought they helped show a great contrast between settling for a lifestyle and fighting to discover a way to a new one.
Personally, I say you should…
… definitely read this novel if you want to try out reading about zombies or if you just like books with that creepy factor. Carrie Ryan’s ability to show you a different idea of zombies, and to weave a tale filled with fast-paced action laced self-discovery, is definitely to be commended.
(This review was originally posted on Alexa Loves Books.)