I really should have joined the YA Reading Challenge. Not because I need another challenge, but because I’m pretty sure I would have already completed it! I’m thinking that this year’s reading would be accurately summed up by calling it “The Year of the YA Novel.” If only they had had books like this when I was a teenager – I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time reading trashy bodice rippers!
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan was my latest foray into YA dystopian fiction. Ms. Ryan has created a truly terrifying world, and has put a wonderful character into that world. Mary lives in a village surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth. The Forest is populated by the Unconsecrated, undead humans who have been infected by a deadly virus that turned them into flesh-eaters. The people of the Village must be ever vigilant, shoring up the fence-line that is the only barrier between them and a gruesome death and never-ending nonexistence. I don’t want to tell you more, because I don’t want to give any of the plot away. Just trust me that it is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. There was even a moment during the final chapters where I realized I was holding my breath, waiting to find out what happened next.
This isn’t a simple book of zombies vs. humans, though. Ms. Ryan also deals with issues of faith, family, and fulfillment. Should Mary accept the status quo, the things she has always been taught? Or is there more to life than being sheltered in The Village? Can she be satisfied with the love of the one man she thought she couldn’t live without? Or is there something inside her that will always crave something more?
My only quibble is the theme of Mary’s loss of faith. I was hoping that it would be addressed more further on in the novel, that the idea of where God fits into this newly horrific world would be more fully discussed. I am glad to hear that there are two more books planned in the series, so maybe this theme will make a reappearance. I hate that I have to wait until next spring for the sequel!