Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Mary lives in a world where the Sisterhood know better than anyone else, Guardians will unfailingly protect the village and the Unconsecrated, zombie-like creatures who used to be human, must not overrun her village. Through a series of events, Mary learns that the village is not quite as it seems, and that the truths may not be all that, and when the village is finally overrun, she must face the most difficult decision of her life – fight the Unconsecrated and remain in her village, or run away to the outside world that may not even exist.

I feel pretty underwhelmed by this book; let down, even. I’ve read so much hype surrounding it, and so many great reviews, but for me it really didn’t fulfil even half of that. As the reader you were left with too many questions at the end, but really not wanting to read the sequel because you have a feeling it will be even worse, and the majority of the book is left to your own imagination, like what really happened to some characters or how the Unconsecrated came to be, which doesn’t make me more willing to read the sequel, which is probably the reason why so much is left unanswered; in fact there’s three books in the series so you probably won’t get the answers until the final book, so I’m just warning you if you haven't already read The Forest of Hands and Teeth there is a bit of a cliffhanger ending if you're not a fan of those. However, the absence of background information and world building does make you think quite a bit about how the world came to be like that, which I suppose is quite good.

Why am I so disappointed? Another book with a great premise let down by the execution; the writing was lovely, but it was also bland and wittered on for pages of description, and it was also in the present tense, which I am not a big fan of because only a certain type of writer can master it, and I feel that Ryan is not one of these writers. At the start, you are unsure if it is set in the past or the future, as Mary’s village is very much circa 14th Century, but you soon discover that it is in the future when the world collapsed, the Unconsecrated developed and civilisation reverted back to times gone by to be able to cope, including believing in God like there’s no tomorrow and primitive methods to protect the village. Which, from what I’ve read of it so far, is pretty original in a YA dystopian novel, right?

Sadly, we have another unlikeable, naïve, selfish female protagonist in the form of Mary who finds herself in a love quadrilateral between her three best friends! She is betrothed to Harry, whilst in lurve with Travis, who is betrothed to Cass, who is in lurve with Harry. But they can’t be with who they want to be with because…where else would the teen angst come from? The Forest of Hands and Teeth is quite interesting at times, and a little bit gruesome so it’s not for everyone, but the writing just made it boring. And I definitely wasn’t creeped out like the multitude of praise said I would be at the beginning. Although there were some quite shocking deaths, which did make you want to read on to discover the consequences.

I think The Forest of Hands and Teeth is another book a bit like marmite – some people love it, others, like me, struggle to think of anything good about it, barring the intriguing title. I think another thing that made me not like it was the book covers for it – there’s the one featured (which is unique, but weird and I still have no idea what it’s depicting), this one (which looks nothing like what I imagined Mary to be – I never realised she was emo) and this one (which is ok, I suppose and the model looks a lot more like Mary, but it's still not great). I feel rather ‘meh’ upon finishing it, but certain I won’t be continuing with the series.
[SYNOPSIS: 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?]


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