Once upon a time, I read a short story by Carrie Ryan called “Bougainvillea” and fell in love with it. This love opened a desire door to read her longer zombie novels, and when I saw that a bunch of my friends rated The Forest of Hands and Teeth pretty high (and some hated it…but I usually approach those one-stars with a grain of caution), I thought to myself: “Mari, frelling read this already.”
So I did…
THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH
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?
…And I ran into my first problem. Which was that the first premise that got thrown in there is the fact that Miss Protagonist Mary is in a love triangle.
And this plays out throughout the ENTIRE. BOOK. Until, of course, the heartwrenching–to Mary, that is–ending where evidently Mary just ends up *SPOILERS* all alone and not totally dependent on a man–well, actually, scratch that *END SPOILERS*. I didn’t even like any of the romantic interests. Frankly, I would have been more amused and/or satisfied had Mary fallen for Cass, because at least she went and developed a more rounded personality.
But then Gabrielle turned up, and my interest was certainly piqued by this effed-up and secretive Sisterhood Chantry thing that was going on in the village.
And you know what? When Mary wasn’t pining for contact with heartthrob-Travis (who, *SPOILERS* let’s be honest, wasn’t ever going to make it in a zombie apocalypse with his busted up leg *END SPOILERS*), the story actually got to the place where it was much, much better. And I will be morbidly honest, that bit with the Fast One screwing up everybody’s village day for a good few chapters kept me entertained for a while.
Then the meandering across the Forest of Hands and Teeth began, and we were back to the characters eyeing each other with some sexual tension that really didn’t have a place in the midst of TRYING TO SURVIVE THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.
Alright. Maybe love makes the hopelessness and neverending travel through the Forest a little easier. I’ll settle for the satisfaction that at least it kept Cass from completely losing her marbles (though when she did, I was sort of amused), and Jed and Harry were semi-competent when they weren’t thinking of trying to make super-angsty Mary happy (which, let’s be honest, had no chance of happening).
Other than the emotional clusterfudge raging through the poor, hormonal teens–something I expected, though not at this frustrating a level–I thought the book was not as bad as I make it out to be. The ending did get somewhat annoying, but there were portions of the journey from the village to the Forest and then-some that entertained me enough to want to finish the book.
That said, I might have had too much expectation on The Forest of Hands and Teeth blowing me out of the water (or ocean, heh), as “Bougainvillea” did when I read the short story from the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology. Oh well.
3 out of 5 cookies!