Dystopian novels are my weakness. So when I read a few reviews of Carrie Ryan’s debut novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, I was intrigued. Zombie novels aren’t my usual fare, but neither were vampires at one time, and I loved Stephenie Meyers’ books. I was thrilled when I received an early review copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth on Monday and immediately set aside the book I was reading.
Mary is a strong, independent young woman struggling to fulfill her dreams while living in a post-apocalyptic where zombies run rampant. Everyday, Mary’s mother goes to the fences that surround the village, looking into the Forest of Hands and Teeth. She spends her days searching for a glimpse of her husband, Mary’s father, who disappeared in the Forest. Mary and her brother Jed, a Guardian, makes sure their mother never, ever goes to the fences alone. They fear her reaction should she ever see her husband as one of the unconsecrated. If she sees him, they know she will risk getting infected herself. But one day, when Jed is guarding the fences and Mary is late, her mother does the unthinkable. She gets too close to the fence and is bitten by an Unconsecrated. Infected herself, Mary is forced to make an impossible decision- kill her mother or release her into the forest?
When Mary is left as an orphan, she is forced to live with the Sisters. The Sisters hold the knowledge of the past and create the rules for the community. They never marry, but instead devote their lives to the Scriptures. (The Sisters are clearly a future, post-apocalyptic version of nuns). Mary must despises her new life and longs for the world her mother described- a world that included an ocean and life outside the fences and beyond the forest. Can she give up these dreams to remain in the village? Her decision is made for her when the Unconsecrated manage to breach the fence. Mary is forced to brave the Forest along with Jed and his wife, her best friend, the man Mary loves, and his brother who loves her. They are surrounded by the Unconsecrated at all times, risking infection and death. With no idea where the path they are on will lead, or if it will even lead anywhere.
This is a fantastic book! Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. I was sneaking in pages at every possible moment. I’ve never been a zombie fan, but I definitely am now, thanks to Carrie Ryan! I’ve already passed my copy on to my biggest Twilight fan, and I can’t wait to hear her reaction. The Forest of Hands and Teeth reminded me of Twilight in some ways, but it is written much better! Mary is a strong, independent woman who is struggling with her own life decisions in the midst of a love triangle, while being surrounded by zombies. What more could you ask for? How about lyrical prose, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and a strong female protagonist? The Forest of Hands and Teeth has all of these in spades! Get yourself to a bookstore ASAP and pick this one up!