Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 10, 2009
Series: Forest of Hands and Teeth #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
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?
It took me a little bit to get used to the style of the narration. I expect first person narratives to be very personal and emotional, especially when they're in the present tense. This one felt detached to me with its short sentences and matter-of-fact way of speaking. It annoyed me for a little while in the beginning, but as the book progressed I felt that it was right, because Mary seems to be a pretty detached person as a result of the world in which she lives. I think that if she were sitting here telling me her story, she would be doing it just like that - concise and matter-of-fact, doing her best to keep her emotions in check and to repress her grief the best that she could. Once that was established for me, it was also a little easier to deal with her selfish tendencies. And even though she was a bit detached, the writing still had me feeling the frustrations of Mary's situation, so that was a good thing.
The plot moves along pretty well even though it is not nonstop action. There is action, of course! You can't have zombies after you without there being some face biting or decapitation. But there's also a good bit of other conflict going on, such as inner struggles with guilt, faith, etc. The focus is, of course, on survival, but on many different levels: living with life choices (or the lack of them), surviving the moment, coming up with some way to survive long-term, the survival of hope and of faith. So it is not just about escaping the zombies.
The end result is that I liked it and found it to be an entertaining read. It definitely interested me enough to keep reading, and I hear the second book is better than the first, so I will be reading that one as well.