Monday, August 1, 2011

August Read: Review - The Forest of Hands and Teeth

As part of our reading group over at Goodreads, we here at Pretty in Fiction will be highlighting two books each month. These books are there for you, our readers to join us in reading and discussion.

I want to try something new this month, and that is this: you can join us, starting August 8th, over at our group discussion on Goodreads, or you can wait until I open up discussion here, later this month. Just pick up a copy of one, or both, of our featured books (you will be able to find both listed in our left-hand sidebar, under Read with us! starting the 8th, as well) and read along. It's that simple!

Our first book up for next month:

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Press, a Random House Children's Imprint
Pub. Date: 2009

Read an excerpt here!

A few days ago, I wrote a post on my personal blog stating how I was in the midst of reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and that in the 89 pages I'd read, there'd yet to be a single decent attack. In a book that deals with zombies, as this one does, one expects to see (or, rather, read) some grisly scenes. I was, needless to say, a bit disappointed that this book seemed to be lacking in that department.

I stand by my earlier post, and add to it that it took until page 123, more than a third of the way through the 310-page book, for the zombies to properly draw attention to themselves. I'm not saying that the story up to that point was bad -- quite the opposite, really -- but some die-hard zombie-lit fans picking up this book looking for some quick carnage might be a bit disappointed.

However, if they're willing to stick with it, once chapter fourteen (Whoa! Head Rush. Wonder if that was intentional. XIV is a very important number in this story.) hits, they're in for one hell of an adrenaline-fueled, "Zombies are trying to eat me!" ride.

In Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the zombies are known as the Unconsecrated, and they are just a part of everyday life. It's been several generations since the Return, and for Mary and her village, they've always been there, clawing and moaning at the fence that protects the village.

Rather understandably, I think, though it can be irritating at times, because of this Mary has clung to the stories her mother used to tell her about life before the Return. About the ocean, and buildings that reached taller than any of the trees that surround he village. And when the inevitable happens, Mary takes advantage of the invasion to make her way to the only place she's ever dreamed of, regardless of those tagging along.

This book gives an interestingly creepy (yet, not all too unsurprising) idea of what sort of society might rise up in the face of a zombie apocalypse. Controlling, secretive, and (rightfully) ever-afraid of the threat outside their fences. And (when it picks up) it gives a chilling, thrill ride only being cast from your home, into the unknown, while being chased by an ever-present zombie horde can give you.

Despite my issues with the main character, I can see where she's coming from. She's a teenager in the land of the dead, and that's enough to make anyone act the way she does, if not worse. The psychological impact of being on the run from a slew of man-eating creatures who used to be those you cared for most is enough to drive anyone insane, to make them break. It's enough to drive wedges between even the closest of family and friends, or to make them cling even tighter to each other and their belief.

I love how Carrie Ryan allows us to watch through Mary's eyes as she deals (if not very well) with the constant loss and terror spurred on by the ever-present undead. We're right there with her as she feels these emotions, and we're running, too when the Unconsecrated are hot on her heels.

I give The Forest of Hands and Teeth a clean 4.5 Crazy Hearts, and would recommend this story to anyone in the mood for a bone-chilling tale that can keep them up through the wee hours of the morning.


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