Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Ryan, Carrie. 2009. (March release. Available Now) The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Random House. 310 pages.

My mother used to tell me about the ocean. She said there was a place where there was nothing but water as far as you could see and that it was always moving, rushing toward you and then away. She once showed me a picture that she said was my great-great-great-grandmother standing in the ocean as a child. It has been years since, and the picture was lost to fire long ago, but I remember it, faded and worn. A little girl surrounded by nothingness.
Our heroine, Mary, has a dream. A dream to leave the safety of her village and find this ever-mysterious ocean her mother romanticized through stories. Mary has always been taught that her village is all there is. Well, all that remains of pure humanity at the very least. Her village is surrounded by a forest--the forest of hands and teeth. Outside the fences and walls of her village, the Unconsecrated roam. Zombies. They're an ever-present threat, but as long as the fences hold. As long as the guardians protect the borders from breaches, then life goes on normally. They're raised to respect the Sisterhood, respect the Guardians, respect the rules of society. And one of the rules is that all young people should make the commitment to family and marriage. All eligible young men and all eligible young women should go through the strict rituals and vows and settle down, start families of their own. Mary has always assumed that her life will follow this course. But after several years of being passed over, she fears that she may have to join the Sisterhood and dedicate her life to God. The idea doesn't thrill her--or the Sisters.

On the day when a young man, Harry, does ask to court her--and courtship almost always leads to marriage--the siren interrupts her response. A breach. The zombies. The two rush to safety. But in a way, it's too late, Mary's life is forever changed. Her mother, Mary's mother, has been bitten by the Unconsecrated. The decision remains...kill her now out of mercy, or let the disease overcome her and release her into the Forest. Her mother's choice? To join her husband who is among the Unconsecrated. Days later--after her mother's release into the Forest--her brother returns angry and vindictive. Jed. He kicks Mary out of his home. Forces her to join the Sisterhood. Harry, it seems, has not gone to her brother. He has seemingly withdrawn his interest to court her, to marry her. While she did not love Harry, she did have a long friendship with him, with his family--his brother, Travis, and his sister, Beth.

But she's being forced into the Sisterhood...forced to dedicate herself to a God she can't believe in. How could God have allowed both her father and mother to have become Unconsecrated? How could God have allowed her brother to turn his back on her? How could God have allowed her sister-in-law, Beth, to miscarry? In just a few days, her life have become a mess, a disaster. It soon becomes apparent--within minutes really--that the Sisterhood is not what she thought. They are more than what they seem. That there are dangerous secrets. That the Sisterhood poses a threat to her very life.

What's a girl to do when there are no choices that can lead to a happy ending?

How could I ever do justice to this book? Seriously. It's so intense. It's so exciting. Full of danger and secrets and betrayals and hopes and fears and love and loss. It's incredibly fast-paced, near-impossible to put down. It's dark and dangerous--not light and cheery. But it's so compelling, so well-written, that I just have to sing its praises.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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Amy 12:12 AM  

Alright, I guess I'm going to have to read it!

samantha.1020 11:43 AM  

I'm sold...I love the cover and the review has me dying to read this one. Thanks Becky!

Debi 3:39 PM  

Must get. Soon.

Laura H 11:07 AM  

Definetly intense. But got repetitive in some parts. Pretty good.

Corinne 2:44 PM  

I REALLY am hoping to read this one, it sounds great!

Unknown 12:37 PM  

I just finished reading this last week and it was unputdownable! Intense is the right word to describe the book. I loved it. Cant wait for the second book to be out.

lalaxsamie 8:33 PM  

I loved this book, and it was virtually impossible to put down. it's one of my favorites :)

Kayla + Cyna 1:07 AM  

I really enjoyed this book too, it was definitely intense as Hell, and compelling. I did find Mary, as a character, to be really selfish and a bit cold, though. That her compulsion ending up costing her so much and yet didn't seem to affect her made it difficult to like her :/ That being said, I can't wait to pick up The Dead-Tossed Waves.

Zombies FTW.

Anonymous,  12:56 PM  

LOVED IT. I read it after the second book (The dead-tossed waves) came out so I read them fairly quick. I am now waiting for the third book (The dark and hollow places) in the trilogy coming out on March 22 2011 (for those who are wondering). I love Carrie Ryan's style it's exciting adventerous, and quite romantic at times.

Anonymous,  9:04 PM  

I'm currently 4/5ths through this book and I have to say... that I am quite annoyed. The story itself is very intense and the book is very hard to put down but the love in this story was not my cup of tea. The amount of love in the story was ridiculous to me; everything revolved around love. That is probably the intention of the book but I think it was too much. Half the time it felt like I was reading Twilight.

The world in the story is very intriguing but I think that the author could have done more with that story than the love stories.

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