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The Forest of Hands and Teeth Book Cover

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Author: Carrie Ryan

No. of Pages: 310

First Released: 2009

Synopsis (Courtesy of Joseph-Beth Booksellers):  “In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future–between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?”

Comments and Critique: This is one of the books I had hoped to read during the Read-A-Thon last month. Now that I finished it, I realize how perfect it would have been. The constant tension created by the zombies made it difficult for me to put down the book. I loved the danger and the action.

More importantly, I was impressed with the deeper theme of choice: Mary’s choices for her future, the fact that the Sisterhood had no qualms about taking away choices from people. As I sympathized with Mary’s plight, for haven’t we all wished for more or hoped to see more of the world one day, I wondered if it is truly wrong to long for more from life? Was Mary at fault for thinking of something better, different? Are we limited by our lack of vision, of hope? They are interesting questions to ponder, ones I was not expecting when I first started reading.

Before I go back to gushing, I will admit that I had issues with the tense of the book. As most regular readers will know by now, I do not typically concern myself with the voice of the narrator. I can and have forgiven quite a bit when it comes to that. In fact, most of the time, I can ignore the narrator completely because I get so immersed in the story. Unfortunately, this is not one of those books. The entire book is in present tense; after the first few pages, I could sense that something was not quite right about the sentence structure. By the end of the first few chapters, I had figured it out and was continually bothered by it for the rest of the book. In present tense, I found it difficult to truly get into Mary’s head. The sentences just did not flow smoothly together. Every time I mentally stepped outside the story, overwhelmed by the clunkiness of each sentence, I became more and more frustrated because it really was one of the only bad things I found with the book. I wanted to like it SO much but just could not enjoy it more all because of present tense.

However, that truly was one of the only annoying things I discovered. As I mentioned earlier, I loved the action and constant danger. It took me a bit to figure out what the forest actually contained, but once I did, I was equal parts horrified and fascinated by life surrounded by the living dead. I was also struck by other questions. Who exactly are the enemies? Is it the zombies or the Sisterhood? What’s worse – being surrounded by death or death itself? Lack of faith or lack of dreams?

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever consider facing such questions when I was reading other reviews. I was hoping for a good, quick, albeit mindless read. Instead, Ms. Ryan gave me so much more. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is definitely an excellent and quick read, but it is far from mindless.

This book meets the requirements of the 100+ Reading Challenge as well as the Read ‘n Review Challenge. For any FTC auditors, I purchased this book with my own money.

Image: Signature Block

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