Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Yes, this is another book review. I seem to be on a reading binge lately—the world is as it should be. :-)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan, is set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by the Unconsecrated, dead people infected with a disease that reanimates them, making them hunger for the flesh of the living. And yes that means zombies. :-) :-) Not the kind of book you normally find me reading, but online reviews combined with the title (it rocks) intrigued me enough to hit it up at my local library. Forest follows the story of Mary, who lives in a village protected by the fanatic Sisterhood, the Guardians, and a fence that keeps the Unconsecrated out and the living in. Her comfortable world (as comfortable a world as you can have surrounded by a Forest teaming with Unconsecrated) is shattered when her mother dies and she is forced to join the Sisterhood.

I have slightly mixed feelings about Forest. I liked it, mostly. The prose was gorgeous, the imagery vivid (dessicated zombie flesh and all ;-)), the themes deep and the storyline—for the most part—compelling. The first person present tense POV read smoothly and naturally (same tense as Hunger Games, incidently) which is a hard thing to do.

The first part of the novel reminds me strongly of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, because the setting is so similar, but that isn't a criticism. Around a third of the way through, though, the story takes a different turn than I had been expecting and breaks away from The Village comparison almost completely. Somewhere around the three-quarter mark Forest seemed to drag a bit. (To me at least. This was where I read Sorcery and Cecelia, Fire and Hemlock, and The Hunger Games, respectively.)

(Minor spoilers in white, highlight to read.)
There were a few things that bothered me about this book. One was the love quadrangle. I didn't know who to root for, and so found the whole Travis/Harry thing kind of confusing and unsettling (of course, maybe that's the point). I also thought it a liiiiitle bit of a stretch that  the only people who survived the attack on the village were all the people Mary was close to. I was also hoping for more of a reveal about what the Sisterhood was up to and at least some closure for Mary regarding them and what exactly they did to Gabrielle. I think part of my problem was I lost the connection with Mary partway through—I'm not sure why. And my word the death toll was higher than one of my novels, which is quite a feat! :-)

I did like the ending. There's a second book in the works, too, so that might answer some of the things I felt were unresolved.

So, to sum up. Slightly mixed feelings, but I mostly liked it. :-)

2 comments:

Kelly said...

I read that book in one day in August while my family was on vacation. I couldn't put it down! You brought up some good points about it. Yes, a little too coincidental that Mary's close ones were the only survivors, but it was a page turner for me.

Joanna said...

Kelly, certainly a very interesting story; I definitely enjoyed reading it despite a few misgivings. :-) Thanks for stopping by!