book review: the forest of hands and teeth

Isn’t The Forest of Hands and Teeth an awesome title? Carrie Ryan deserves any praise this book’s received for the title alone. I love it. The book’s pretty good too.

The story is about a young woman, Mary, in a tiny village that is beset by zombies (they aren’t called zombies, but they’re zombies), and has been for generations. They’re in the middle of the eponymous zombie-filled forest and have fences and a Sisterhood and Guardians to protect them and keep the people in line. Mary dreams of the stories her mother told her of freedom and a life outside the village. At one point she finds a bit of proof, in the form of New York Times headlines, firmly planting this in the post-apocalyptic subgenre instead of fantasy.

Needless to say everything goes badly when Mary’s mother causes a tiny breach and gets infected and must be killed in the first couple of chapters. Her brother turns on her, Mary gets sent to the nunnery because no boy wants to marry her, and then one does and It’s Complicated. The story moves along, building speed as it goes.

That building pace kind of gets in the way a bit. There are a few convenient big action sequences that push the characters along their paths, making some of their choices feel kind of pointless, since they were about to get forced into action without thinking anyway. But that’s only a minor annoyance. The urgency is always there with these moaning unconsecrated infection vectors surrounding them as they try to escape. The action sequences are really good and tense too, with almost every important character ending up dead (mostly in heroic fashion).

All in all, a good exciting read. Not as bleak as The Road but in kind of the same vein. It’s a YA novel and I’m bringing it to my next Teen Book Club as a (non-vampire!) recommendation.

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