Saturday, July 24, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

GoodReads Description:

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?

I'm not sure what to think, really. It had all the good elements of a good book. Dystopian? check. Zombies? check. Overbearing religious society controlling the lives of everyone it touches? double check.

It had all that, and, to be fair, it was well-written and engaging and all that. Worth the read, for certain. There are many an OMG HOW WILL THEY ESCAPE moment, several very, very heartrenching passages, and a zombie infant. It really doesn't get much better. The book is a bit confused sometimes, isn't really sure if it wants to be an adventure or a romance, and so, instead of combining the two, contents itself with being an adventure story that is constantly threatening to turn into a romance, before the adventure beats the romance back into the shadows with the festering arm of one of the undead.

Mary is our main character, and she is brave and inquisitive and unsatisfied to go along with the status quo simply because it is the status quo. She has a great deal of strength and righteous indignation, which I found fantastically refreshing. She finds a way out of her gated village into the Forest of Hands and Teeth to find the Ocean her mother told her about as a child, and dreams of a world away from the Unconcecrated (Zombies), away from the Sisterhood (the Catholic Church) and away from fear (take your pick). Other than the fact that she is a bit whiny and a lot a bit self absorbed, she is a likable, sympathetic character.


She confused me a bit, I must say. For one thing, there is this odd love triangle...thing, going on. Mary loves Travis, who loves her too, but only sometimes, even though he's really engaged to her best friend. Travis's brother Harry loves Mary, and she loves him too, kind of, and could maybe be happy with him but she loves Travis. Sometimes. What's never made clear is WHY exactly she loves Travis so very much more than Harry, who has been, it is made clear, her best friend forevah, and who, it must be remembered, wants to marry her, whereas Travis is going to marry Mary's best friend Cass until he decides halfway through the book, for no apparent reason, that he has loved Mary all along and Harry decides he has loved Cass all along and suddenly we're playing musical partners while our brains yell "Then WHY haven't we been doing this since the beginning?!"

And then your brain explodes.

Secondly, and this is a minor complaint, the secondary characters weren't as fleshed out (hehe. zombies. fleshed out. hehe) as I would have liked, but really, the book was a good read, and not a terrible way to kill a summer day.

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