Friday, July 29, 2011
The Forest of Hands and Teeth Review
For as great as this book started out I feel like the plot just took a walk down the desolate road of grim storytelling. Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth intrigued me so much from the back summary and what I had heard about it. I was thinking, "Awesome! A real zombie apocalypse book written for my attention span." And yes, it does live up to the macabre atmosphere of a classic zombie story, the characters and plot fell flat.
The book is told through the perspective of Mary, a teenage girl who lives in a very primal village that is controlled by the Sisterhood and is protected by a fence to keep out the Unconsecrated (zombies). All we know about life there is that the Sisterhood is a religious government that keeps the village going and the human race surviving amongst so much death. We learn that the Sisterhood has many secrets and dark dealings with life and death that Mary seems to only skim the surface on. She is also involved in a love square with her best friend and 2 brothers. And while the drama of that ensues, the village is breached by the Unconsecrated and Mary and a few survivors head off to find some sort of solace from the downfall of the only home they have ever known. The only motivation to continue on is the stories Mary's mother told her as a child of the ocean and life beyond the forest of hands and teeth.
As far as characters go in this book, Mary is the only one I became somewhat attached to. Her character actually kind of reminded me of Katniss from The Hunger Games. I appreciate that she is a strong female lead and that she isn't satisfied with just the love of a guy. She needs more in life than just the promise of love and comfort. She is also a fighter and isn't afraid to hack off some heads. Always a good trait. The other characters were intriguing but I don't feel that I ever got to know them. Sister Tabitha is a mysterious almost villainous person, she holds many secrets about the world. Mary's best friend, Cass starts out as the innocent girl who "smelled of sunshine" but becomes hardened by the reality of the broken world they live in. The 2 guys in this book are Travis and Harry who are both in love with Mary but neither are good enough for her. I wasn't really drawn to either of them as romantic interests. I am interested to see where the story goes in the sequels but for right now I am not dying to know.
The writing is beautiful, I will admit that. That is what held me through the whole book, every sentence was beautifully crafted. Even the gruesome descriptions of the Unconsecrated's breaking bones and tearing flesh was so vivid and disturbingly done. I liked the use of biblical names throughout and I am anxious to see how well they follow their origins. The use of roman numerals also intrigued me. I liked them just as the chapter names, but then when they were starting to make an appearance in the story it got my hopes up. But I don't think all the intriguing things that were set up at the beginning where followed through with. Any answers I got to questions I had fell flat in my mind.
As a whole the story was an interesting story and I appreciate the raw, gruesome zombieness. I will always love a good zombie story. But for anything beyond the undead, this book was just kind of "eh" for me. 2 out of 5 stars, mid-low shelf, okay? Tempted to see if the sequel will improve my doubts so we shall see.