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? (From Powell's Books)
Dark, depressing, disturbing. This alliteration is brought to you by my immediate impressions after finishing The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I bought this book because I had seen it featured a lot through out the many blogs I frequent, and because of late everyone has been talking about Ryan’s sequel, The Dead Tossed Waves, just released. Not one to read the book flap before I begin a book, I really had no clue what I was in for, and I must admit I will have to hold off at least a few days before I begin reading Ryan’s sequel.
There is no doubt that this book grabbed me and held me in its grip even after I finished the last page. The most obvious reason is Ryan’s prose. Like her character’s I felt trapped in her post-apocalyptic world, because Ryan’s explicit descriptions of the Unconsecrated (zombies) relentless drive for human flesh permeates the rest of the story. The intensity rarely wavered, even when Mary, the stories narrator, discussed her strong feeling about Travis, or her unwavering conviction that the stories her mother told her about oceans were true. Unlike Mary, I never felt the hope that something better was up ahead. The more I read the more hopeless I became. I can’t say I didn’t want to believe that the character’s living nightmare wouldn’t eventually end, but I just continued to despair with each new obstacle that Mary and her companions faced daily.
Even now, as I try to decide if I really like this book, I am torn. It is extremely well-written. It is a compelling read. I connected to Mary’s need to experience more than the tethered life she was forced to live. However, I am still completely overwhelmed by the dark, depressing, and disturbing emotions Ryan’s prose has evoked, and I think it will take some time before I can shake this story off.