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?
Mary grew up knowing her life would be carefully controlled by the Sisterhood, that the Guardians would protect her, and that she would always live in fear of the Unconsecrated. Yet, she can't help but to yearn for more as her mother has raised her by telling her stories of a long ago past before there was so much death and destruction. In her quest for answers she finds terrible secrets and faces truths she never wanted to know. Things take a turn for the worst when the fence is breached and she is torn between two possible loves. As they venture looking for hope they find more death and despair then they could have ever imagined, yet they must keep on as hope is the only thing that sets them apart from the Unconsecrated.
Wow, just wow. This book went in a completely different direction than I was expecting. I found the Sisterhood's secrecy and strict ruling to be stifling, and I had expected this to be a story about rebelling against those constraints. Perhaps it would have been if things had not been turned completely upside down as the walls were breached taking everything that they knew away. The story morphs into a path of survival and heartbreak that just leaves you reeling. However, above all it is a story of hope. Hope for survival, hope for love, and above all hope for something more.
While I was utterly capivated by this story, I cannot say the same for my feelings about Mary. I understand her being a dreamer and wanting more than the semblance of life they all had in the village, because that's all it was, an imitation of living. Barely surviving might be a more accurate description. However, Mary took those dreams and turned them into an obsession, one that proved very deadly. I just found her quite undeserving of the love the two boys had for her. She carelessly throws it all away in pursuit of finding more. At one point when she feels the real pain of true loss, I had thought she might have finally been wising up a little, as she seemed to realize that love was more important than anything. Yet in the next moment she throws everything away again. Maybe she was just too scared to give herself so completely to another person, rather then just being selfish. Either way, in the end, Mary's character flaws strengthened the book rather than detract from it as she seemed more real because of them.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth starts off by slowly drawing you into the story and by the time things take off you are so far submerged every heart racing moment will leave you gasping for air. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time reading this book and all my nails are now chewed to the quick. I'm going to have to take a little break before diving into the next one so that I can truly savor it, otherwise I will just tear through it too quickly in my haste to see what happens next. Carrie Ryan is a truly amazing story teller whose words make emotion leap right off the page. I felt every single moment of terror, love, pain, and loss right along with the characters, making for a truly spellbinding read. Zombie fan or no, you won't want to miss this fantastic debut.