Egad Brain! Shiver shiver, snicker snicker. Thrills and chills galore are embedded within the pages of The Forest of Hands and Teeth then wrapped up in an emotional roller coaster. Why did I read this book? Zombies scare me silly – and add the insanity of the innocent rural lifestyle and well you have zombies munching on heart-breakingly innocent villagers. This is much different than zombies munching on snarky British guys, at least they seem like they deserve it. I’m still in an emotional cloud and I’m hearing moaning around every corner. But, I loved every minute of it? Most of the book was spent running from this zombie or that, but wow, can Ms. Ryan (I’m sorry Mrs. now) tell a story.
In a charming little village, set deep in the forest, lives a girl named Mary. Mary should only be thinking about who will ask to court her during the Winter months, she should be thinking about marriage, settling down, having babies, like a good member of the village. Mary isn’t concerned about things like that though, she is a dreamer and she is dreaming of the ocean. Stories told to her by her mother about the waves and tall buildings that touch the sky. Things she believes one day she will see.
There is only one problem with Mary’s dream. Fencing surrounds her entire village, and behind that fencing is The Forest of Hands and Teeth and within that forest the Unconsecrated live, if you call it living. They are the dead that have risen, they do not age, they only rot and fall apart – with one thing on their mind, eat living flesh. Yum.
Never one for a zombie novel, I bought the book after meeting the author and getting a fan girl crush on her just by hearing her speak about how she derived her ideas. She struck me as quite brilliant and I had to read her work. Very glad I did. Ryan’s style of writing isn’t peppered with flourishes or showiness, she tells a story, getting right to the point. Mary’s struggle is mostly internal and Ryan grasps the psychological aspect very well, transitioning directly from internalizing to battle mode in an instant. In fact the action sequences come on so quickly and unexpectedly it is almost as if you were there because of your lack of preparedness.
My only problems I had with the book was the sheer stupidity of the characters sometimes. They knew the zombies were out there, it was almost as if they were in denial – get prepared people, you are going to be attacked! They would stay holed up in an area and play house…all while the hordes of the dead would press against the walls. Thus, going back to the innocent, ignorance of the villagers. So used to taking orders from the governing few (The Sisters & The Guardians) that they can’t make hard decisions on their own. All of them crippled by grief that I think they almost wanted to be overrun and killed. It was definitely an emotional ping pong match.
I’ve heard this book described as The Village with Joaquin Pheonix meets Night of the Living Dead. I really have to disagree. Yes, they lived in a village, cut off from the rest of the world. Yes, the elders kept the younger population ignorant of some things. But, the hole point of The Village was that the elders specifically kept the group away from the outside world because of the violence and death that is so prolific in modern society, whereas in TFOHAT, this village is separated by a great apocalyptic event where the dead rise and kill the living. Quite different. I see the Night of the Living Dead parallel – yep you guessed it, zombies.
I WILL BE READING ON.
Mature teens, there are no explicit scenes, but it does have a lot of emotional turmoil that I think will be interpreted better by a more mature audience. Adults will have no problem digesting this little number, nothing immature about it.
Review was posted before but eaten by the transition from Blogger to WordPress.