Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth (2009) (Gollancz)
Carrie Ryan
Grade: C
Genre: young adult / dystopian
Source: own
Forest of Hands and Teeth: (1) The Forest of Hands and Teeth
General RBC 2015: A book on your TBR list 

When Mary’s mother becomes infected and chooses a life with the Unconsecrated, Mary has lost everything. Her father is also one of the Unconsecrated in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her brother Jed is married and has his own family to look after, besides not being able to forgive Mary for letting their mother become infected, and no one has spoken for Mary in the village’s yearly cycle of marriage ceremonies. Mary is taken in by the Sisterhood, whose direction and guidance is unparalleled in their village. But when Mary sees and hears things she shouldn’t she begins to question the hold that he Sisterhood have on the village and the strength of the beliefs she’s followed all her life. When their fences are breached and the Unconsecrated flood their safe haven, Mary takes a leap of faith in entering the forbidden Forest of Hands and Teeth, in search of a better, safer world away from the only lifestyle she has ever known.

This is another TBR read that has been long overdue and another book that I’ll be getting rid of. There was a time, about 5 years ago when I first bought this, that dystopian young adult was really taking off in popularity and I was similarly pulled in, with the result that today, I’ve still got countless numbers of unread books on my shelves – many of which I hope to get rid of this year. Am I complaining? Probably a little bit. But when buying books has become akin to an addiction and you’re running out of shelf (not to mention floor, desk, dresser and closet) space, it quickly becomes clear that there are books that need to go.

It’s a compelling concept. A bit ‘Walking Dead’ like, this tiny village has beaten the odds to survive as the vast majority of the human race has become contaminated by some unknown virus. Known collectively as ‘the Unconsecrated’, the infected roam the land craving uninfected flesh, ripping apart each other and themselves in the process. In this village, they’re led to believe that they’re the only survivors left. In their defence, it’s understandable that they think this: their tiny village is surrounded by a round-the-clock guarded fence everyone has been drilled into survival mode all their life. They’ve developed cultures and traditions in order to create a somewhat civilised lifestyle and for generations, no one has left the relative security of their fences; Mary’s stories about the ocean are only a fantasy. Carrie Ryan strikes near-perfect in creating scenes and feelings of haunting depression and bleak hopelessness – so, so good.

Mary was too whiny for my liking and just couldn’t accept defeat when it came to her love triangle. I couldn’t relate to any of the characters, but I was a fan of the overarching plot and storyline, even if it dragged in places. However, I’m not nearly compelled enough to consider picking up the second book in this series, let alone number three. There was a time when stopping a series midway through would have been alien to me, even if I didn’t particularly like the book, characters or author. Now, I find it difficult to care. If giving up on a book, series, author or even genre means that I have more time to find the true gems, then so be it; there’s not enough time in life to read as it is.

Image courtesy of Book Depository.

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