m2k2, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by m2k2)
Carrie Ryan takes the reader through a nail-biting post-apocalypse tale that truly leaves you ready for the next two books! The book deals with very real emotions in a zombie filled world. This is a book I could not put down. Ryan has written it in a way that is very appealing to all readers from teens to adults. When asked for the best book I've read of the year, I always recommend The Forest of Hands and Teeth. As a middle school teacher, I have seen both boys and girls LOVE this book. Who doesn't like a well written story of zombies, love, and a character overcoming challenges?!? A must read for anyone who has liked books like The Hunger Games or other dystopian novels.
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Shoshana, May 2, 2010 (view all comments by Shoshana)
This has been tagged as a young adult dystopian novel, and while I agree with "young adult," it's dystopian only in the sense that all zombie novels are dystopian--a spreading horror, present or past, destroys much of civilization. Perhaps it shades slightly more into dystopian territory, in that a character alludes to the Unconsecrated--this village's name for the zombies--having originated in scientific attempts to make people immortal. However, this aside is so tangential to the action of the story, so peripheral to the central narrative, that, while intriguing, it is not a sufficiently central point to support calling this a dystopia. It is young adult horror with science fiction elements.
There are things I can live without knowing. I don't need the whole back story; in many ways it's more interesting not to have a huge revelation about the long, long ago time and how things came to be. Perhaps some of that is filled in in the next book; perhaps not. However, there are many data that, in their absence, suggest poor planning and plotting. The world of this novel is not internally consistent, especially in regard to the Unconsecrated's capacities and how they are dealt with by the villagers.
Psychologically, this is a novel about claustrophobia. The (seemingly) lone village, the tiny beacon holding back the unending, zombie-filled forest. The stern and secret-keeping Sisterhood, a religious order that controls the village, its inhabitants' lives, and access to historical and current knowledge. The young girl, who wants to marry for love, break out of the village's tight periphery, and re-discover this "ocean" her mother described to her in her childhood. It is also about selfishness; more specifically, selfishness rewarded. Mary, the protagonist, is cut from the same histrionic and narcissistic cloth as Twilight's Bella. She is moody, impulsive, self-focused and self-preoccupied, willing to put her ambivalent desires ahead of (as far as she knows) the well-being of everyone in the world. Why is Travis attractive? For the same reason Edward is: Because the female protagonist says so.
This novel bears little resemblance to The Hunger Games, with which I've seen it compared. Instead, think The Road, but with zombies instead of the charred ashes of a ruined civilization, and a whiny self-serving kid. Same ending, though.
While I can't give you my more interesting analysis of the novel, it is rich ground for a psychoanalytic deconstruction. If you're interested and don't mind spoilers, you can read it at www.goodreads.com.
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margaretskipper, December 14, 2009 (view all comments by margaretskipper)
Quote. When I'm at the highest point in our village I look out at the Forest. I strain to see if I can find the edge of it, find where the rest of the world begins. But all I can see is darkness. My entire life has been about the world outside the fence line, has been about the Forest. -Mary
Through twists and turns of fate, orphaned Mary seeks knowledge of life, love, and especially what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, where dwell the Unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead.
Characters. I have read a few reviews saying that the characters in this book were undeveloped and didn't feel "important". While i read books, i mostly picture what I'm reading from what I'm given from the author. I'm happy to say that i had no problem visualizing any part of this book. The characters all had a certain personality and was easy for me to like. I think the character development is very good without be too much. In some books, you just get way too much stuff. This book seems level and even.
Theme. The theme of this book is centered around free will. Mary's village is controlled by the "Sisterhood." Mary doesn't want to be forced to conform. It's not that she wants to go crazy and do illegal or immoral things, she just wants to be able to choose her own path. Instead, the sisterhood determines what is best, then everyone does what they want to achieve that.
Plot. This story has various elements of suspense. There were times where I couldn't stop reading because i needed to know what was going to happen! There is a huge journey throughout the book; not just literally but emotionally as well. There is also some mystery because there is a speculation that the sisterhood may know more then they let on too.
Style. This story evoked many emotions from me including fear, sadness and brief happiness (very, very brief). It was simple to read and understand. Some simile/comparisons but not too much to cause it to be too confusing. The dialog was somewhat brief but i found it effective.
Setting. The setting of this book occurs in an isolated village. This village is surrounded on all sides by a fences and a forest beyond the fence. The unconsecrated zombies are in the forest preventing escape. There are also abandoned trails lead away from the village, but the villagers are prohibited from exploring these trails. The trails seem to be a huge maze! The atmosphere is developed great.
Comparison. Similar to Resident Evil & The Village (that movie) but written for a younger audience.
Overall. Defiantly 5 stars because it was written well, had great characters and cover a topic i have seen much in young adult books. I really really enjoyed this book. I may even go out on a limb and say it was the best one i have read in a while. This reason for this i think is because it really made me think. It some YA books, there is a girl and a boy and the whole story is about there love or relationship. While that kinds of book are good, i think i really like this too. In this book, the whole villages' wellbeing was considered. There was more issues then just that "mysterious new guy at school" one that so often comes up. Family, friendship, duty, and loose are all covered in this book. And I'm not ashamed to admitted that i almost cried (ok, maybe more then almost.)
Mary lives in a secluded village surrounded my people eating zombies, protected only by a fence. She wants to find a way out of the village..out of that life.
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers -
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, Marys truths are failing her. Shes 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?
Carrie Ryan lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can visit Carrie at www.carrieryan.com.
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