I do not usually care for zombies – I don’t hate them, but just not something I jump to watch/read. When I started hearing that zombies might be the new vampires in the YA lit world, I didn’t believe it. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan made me reconsider. (Her awesome first name might have also swayed me a bit.)
Mary has grown up in a village that is surrounded by a fence, used to keep the Unconsecrated out. While the author never labels the Unconsecrated as zombies, she makes it quite clear. Mary is concerned about keeping her mother away from the fence. Her father went out on an expidition and never returned; it can only be assumed that he became an Unconsecrated. Villagers do not always deal well when they see a lost loved one appear on the other side of the fence after they have turned, and Mary hopes to avoid having her mother experience that.
Things don’t always go as we hoped, though, and soon Mary is living with the Sisterhood, learning about them and the Guardians, and what they do to keep the village safe. But how safe are they really?
I inhaled this book – I could not put it down. Mary’s POV is very easy to be pulled in to, and the descriptions of the setting are so well done. I read the majority of this book in my backyard on a sunny Sunday afternoon, but I don’t remember the sun or the lounge chair, I remember the trees, the fence and the moans. It does start out a bit slowly, but once you get past a certain point, I was hooked. As one would expect when dealing with zombies, there are some stomach turning parts. This is less from gore and more due to difficult images like a zombie baby. While there is a bit of relationship drama, it never takes over the story. Mary’s dreams of seeing the ocean one day are more important than any boy crush.
I really like the cover design for it, with the trees and the fog. I saw a UK cover design on another blog and it left me less than thrilled. Carrie Ryan promises future books set in this world, and I can’t wait to find out what more she will reveal.