Monday, October 29, 2012

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

4/5 stars

Synopsis from Good Reads - 

"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?" 

* * * This review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk! 

Review after the break...
It has taken me such a long time to write this review because I am so torn about this book. I remember either watching a John Green video or interview in which he talks about how life can be seen in terms of the "Before" and "After" of major events. (If you don't know who John Green is, what the heck? Go buy The Fault In Our Stars - right now. I don't care what you're doing or if it's hurricane-ing out, go!) I'm taking John's brilliant assessment (and so, so true) of life and applying it to The Forest of Hands and Teeth. The major event in question is the zombie breach of Mary's village (this is on the back cover so it is not a spoiler) and the Before was just... boring, lacking, I don't know. The After, however, was absolutely brilliant and made me fall in love with this book.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm not going to summarize this book because I already did that in my Youtube video (I also discuss my feelings there as well).

So... 4/5 stars. The Forest of Hands and Teeth only received 4 stars because of how close we are to Halloween. I was in the mood for something creepy and scary and Halloween-ish and honestly, this book delivered despite the problems that I had with it. Had I read this book in, say, the spring... I don't think it would have received such a high rating (3/5). Apparently I am a temperamental reader. My two major problems can be narrowed down to the main character as well as the world building/plot.

Mary... Oh, Mary. I just could not connect with this girl. For some reason she read as a two dimensional character who the author attempted to salvage through moments of insight - one moment she's staring blankly into a pail of water while being proposed to and the next she is questioning the fairness of humanity if no one is there to remember it. I don't know. I'm sure she is a lovely character really... I just couldn't get into her or understand her... or really even like her all that much.

More importantly, the world building is what got me. Through no fault of Carrie Ryan's, I am slightly extremely rigid when it comes to zombie stories. In fact, they follow pretty set rules (in my mind)...

1. Zombie apocalypses only occur in present time or twenty years (at the most) into the future. Mary's village seems to be right out of the 1700's... An extremely rural setting (I would assume most of the inhabitants are farmers) with a centralized religious institution as the ruling government. The government, in this case - a group of power hungry nuns - have their hands in every aspect of village life... from marriages and important decisions regarding the protection of the villagers from the zombies (the Unconsecrated)... right down to what happens to young, unmarried women if no one proposes to them. Seriously, I pictured everyone in long, hand sewn dresses and ridiculous bonnets.

2. While love stories may be present, they most definitely take a back seat to the main zombie problem at hand. Okay, seriously. You have the freaking UNDEAD clawing at you persistently, night and day... and you're worried about whether or not your crush likes your best friend? I realize that I'm totally cheapening Mary's relationships but seriously.

3. We understand what caused the zombies. Okay, I know that this really isn't a big deal but it really bothered me that no one questioned why the Unconsecrated were... well, Unconsecrated. The Sisterhood (the ruling nuns) called the time that the zombies appeared the "Return" and no one seemed to question it.

I know that what I've said before is not the book's problem... or the author's problem... These issues all exist in my head and it is because I am narrow minded that I didn't enjoy the book. I know this, I understand this, and I accept this... and most of these problems occurred largely in the first half of the book. Like I said, after the breach... the story picked up speed and I was hooked. But I still felt like I had to trudge my way through the first 150-200 pages... and that left a sour taste in my mouth.

There is a second book in the series (I don't know how many books there are supposed to be) called The Dead Tossed Waves. I don't know if I'm going to be reading this book or not - I felt as though the conclusion of The Forest of Hands and Teeth wrapped up Mary's story pretty nicely... She achieved what she wanted to achieve and I honestly don't want to read another 300 page book to have a few (minor) details answered. I didn't connect enough with the other characters (Henry, Cass, and the child...) to really care what happened to them. I will probably give this book another shot somewhere down the road and hope that my opinion changes. I wanted to like this book a lot but I just couldn't connect with it.

Oh well!

Next time you'll see me, I will have a review of Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvain Reynard. Warning - this is an adult romance along the lines(ish) of Fifty Shades of Grey and Bared to You. Think what you will of those kinds of books... but I am an adult and I can make my own choices about what to read =]. Also, Gabriel's Inferno seems SO much more tame than the former two books.

Have you read The Forest of Hands and Teeth? What'd you think? Should I give the sequel a chance?

Happy reading... and if you're on the eastern coast... be careful! We're supposed to get the full force of Sandy tomorrow morning!

No comments:

Post a Comment