Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 336 pages
Release Date: February 9, 2010
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy
Rating: 3/5 stars
I have read a number of other books by Carrie Ryan, The Map to Everywhere which I loved, and The Daughter of Deep Silence which was okay. I have had this book in my TBR pile forever and finally got a chance to pick it up. It ended up being okay. It’s well written but starts out a bit slow and wasn’t all that original.
Mary lives in a village surrounded by a fence. Inside the village the Sisterhood rules all and the Guardians patrol the fence. Outside the fence the Unconsecrated will stop at nothing to break in and consume human flesh. Mary is getting to an age where she either must be asked for by a young man in the village or join the Sisterhood. She is forced to join the Sisterhood but found unsuitable for that work and when her childhood friend Harry asks for her she becomes his betrothed. However the only problem is that Mary took care Harry’s brother Travis while she was in the Sisterhood and both feel deeply in love.
Mary’s love troubles suddenly become inconsequential when a strange fast moving Unconsecrated breaks into the village and rips their lives apart.
This book starts out very slow but does pick up pace towards the end. The tone in the beginning reminds a lot of the movie The Village. Over half of the book is about Mary in her little village dealing with her day to day worries and concerns. Things do pick up towards the end but the pacing is strange. First Mary is completely obsessed with her love for Travis, then she ignores him in her quest for the ocean her mother told stories about, then she is obsessed with him again and then ignoring him. It was like Ryan couldn’t have Mary be in love AND eager to seek out the ocean at the same time…it was weird.
I thought the characters were a bit bland as well and didn’t really engage with them. Mary is selfish and determined to fulfill her needs and obsessions; she doesn’t think about long term consequences and her actions were pretty stupid and poorly thought out. None of the other main characters really grabbed me and engaged me either; they were all just kind of blah. This book was full of characters who were selfish and short-sighted and generally annoying.
However, I did enjoy the world here and am curious to learn more about it. I felt like as soon as the story started to actually get interesting the book was over. Although let’s be honest the idea of secluded human societies in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world isn’t really all that unique…it’s been done many times before.
Overall this is a decent read for those who are looking for a dystopian YA zombie type of book. I found the world intriguing but thought the book was a bit slow and that the characters were unlikable and hard to engage with . I am unsure whether or not I will read the next book in the series right now; I kind of want to read more about this world but I am worried that the 2nd book will be as slow and boring as this one was.