The Forest of Hands and Teeth ハードカバー – 2009/3/10
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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, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
Now, 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?
[STAR] "A bleak but gripping story...Poignant and powerful."-Publishers Weekly, Starred
"A postapocalyptic romance of the first order, elegantly written from title to last line."-Scott Westerfeld, author of the Uglies series and Leviathan
"Intelligent, dark, and bewitching, The Forest of Hands and Teeth transitions effortlessly between horror and beauty. Mary's world is one that readers will not soon forget."-Cassandra Clare, bestselling author of City of Bones
"Opening The Forest of Hands and Teeth is like cracking Pandora's box: a blur of darkness and a precious bit of hope pour out. This is a beautifully crafted, page-turning, powerful novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it."-Melissa Marr, bestselling author of Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange
"Dark and sexy and scary. Only one of the Unconsecrated could put this book down."-Justine Larbalestier, author of How to Ditch Your Fairy
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, February 2, 2009:
“Mary's observant, careful narration pulls readers into a bleak but gripping story of survival and the endless capacity of humanity to persevere . . .Fresh and riveting.”
Starred review, School Library Journal, May 2009:
"[T]he suspense that Ryan has created from the very first page on entices and tempts readers so that putting the book down is not an option."
After finishing it, I feel torn. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I didn’t love it like I’d hoped. I normally read a book this size in a day, two at most. This one took me about 10 days. I was easily distracted. A few pages in I realized it closely resembles M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. I wasn’t a fan of that movie, but with actual zombies in the forest (I say that like they’re real. Ha!) I was intrigued. I liked the book enough to finish it, regardless of the length of time it took me. There was something about it – something I still can’t put my finger on – that kept me interested and wouldn’t let me give up.
The story is hopeless and hopeful all at the same time. Mary is the main character and her will never falters when it comes to fulfilling her dreams, no matter the cost. All she’s ever known is her village, her people, and the forest of hands and teeth that surrounds them. She has always known that the Guardians will protect the fence and the Sisterhood will keep their lives in order. Yet she longs to know if the stories her mother raised her on, about the vastness of the ocean and building so tall they reach the sky, are true. Is there more to the world that just the people inside her village? Did the Return destroy the rest of the world or are there other villages out there somewhere?
There is a bit of romance intertwined in the story, but it’s a strange sort of romance. I wasn’t rooting for love in this story, which is unlike me. Not that I believe that love is a must-have element in the books I read, but if there is romance I expect more of it. I demand that it makes me feel something, and I really didn’t care about it here. Sadly, I didn’t ever connect with any of the characters.
I will say that the last 60 or 70 pages were my favorite. The pace was fast, the danger was imminent, and the action was satisfying. Those pages convinced me to give the book 3 stars instead of 2.5. I may even read the next book. Let me clarify–it’s not a cliffhanger ending. I could easily walk away from the series and never look back. Maybe I will. I already know from skimming some reviews that the second book does not follow Mary any further–which actually piques my interest. I’m curious about what the next book offers.
Overall I can say The Forest of Hands and Teeth is an OK zombie story. Some people love it, some hate it. I’m wandering around somewhere close to the middle.
The main character is very flat, with the only explored aspect of her personality being completely unlikeable. I mean, Mary is one of the most selfish characters I've ever read. She's not even the kind of character you "love to hate". I just hated her. She plays with everyone's emotions and then stomps on them without mercy. She sacrifices all around her for her own selfish desires. Even her brief act of heroism came across as somehow selfish.
The supporting cast is also utterly flat, but needless to say they're all umpteen times more likeable than Mary. Why they didn't feed her to the zombies, I'll never know.
Potential for a deep and exciting plot
Utterly unlikeable main character
Flat characters overall
Interesting plot paths were bypassed completely in favour of a dull, monotonous plot with no payoff.
Mary lives in the woods in a village surrounded by a fence and a forest referred to as the Forest of Hands and Teeth because right outside the fence the village is surrounded by the unconsecrated (zombies). Mary’s village is trying to regrow its population, live their lives and keep safe from those living dead right outside the gates. There are really interesting aspects of religion that are part of life in the village and are also backing the leaders of the village, The Sisterhood. I believe that Ryan put an interesting twist on the zombie apocalypse and took an intriguing stance on the way of life and the impact/ influence of zombies in the story. Right away you know there are secrets that are being kept from the village and hiding the truth about what is past the forest. There is a strange beautiful way about Ryan’s writing and the way she conveys the truth about love and finding love in comparison to the desires and life of the zombies. It is odd to say that there was a beautiful and moving quality in the writing of a book about zombies.
There were some parts of the book/story that really annoyed me and changed my feelings toward the overall story. I was really turned off from Mary’s character. In the wake of everything that was happening to their lives and the village she was so selfish and self-centered. At times it seemed so repetitive because it kept coming back to how she was feeling and basically seemed like everyone was out to get her and she could never be happy. I got really annoyed with Mary and felt that all the time spent on her and her love issues took away from the fact that they were dealing with zombies trying to kill them. There was no growth in Mary’s character even up to the ending. Let’s not even get me started on the ending. I wanted to throw my book against the wall. Mary was just not a great character for me and I felt like all the time focused on her took away from the other characters in the book.
Overall this was a unique story that somehow managed to weave love in a zombie story without it being a love story. I thought there were many beautiful moments that really drove the characters to think and reflect on life, love and relationships. I do wish there was more action, survival aspects and fighting zombies etc. There was quite a bit in the book, but I felt like too much time was spent on Mary and her whole “woe is me” attitude and lack of emotions to the whole situation that is happening. The story is gripping and you want to know the fate of the characters. The book is frustrating at times and throws out some shocking twists. I absolutely hated the ending, but maybe thats just me. I do recommend this book to those who want an interesting zombie story that is not too much gore or horror that provides aspects of love and religion. I am really interesting to see what other people think about this book and how they feel at the end!