Oh what a chilling read - for me at least! I've never done well with anything that resembles horror, and I am afraid I consider zombie stories to be horror. Now that my initial horror has faded (I was haunted by this story for weeks), I find that I am eager to write about it. While I am a huge mystery fan, I try to read from a variety of genres - there are so many amazing books out there. This time, I decided I would read The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan. I came across the book a few years back, and was quite taken by the title, but I only recently got around to reading it. As I mentioned, it is a zombie story, and I am usually not a zombie fan. I've never liked them. And while I can't say I particularly liked this story, I must say it is very well written. I wasn't able to put it down, and it stuck with me for weeks. I still occasionally find myself dwelling on the story, and wondering about certain aspects of it. Those, to me, are signs of a good book!
The story follows Mary, who recently lost her father, and, close to the start of the story, looses her mother. She is, of course, grief stricken. She lives in a small community run by the sisters, and protected by the Guardians. The whole village is surrounded by fencing, with forest beyond, completely isolated from the rest of the world. Surrounding the fenced village, and throughout the forest, are zombies who crave human flesh, forever pressing against the fences in hopes of breaking through it. Then, one day, disaster strikes, and all is chaos.
This is a tale of survival, following Mary as she attempts to make her way through her life and find safe haven. Mary's pain and confusion about her situation is palpable and real. I found that telling the story from Mary's perspective really added to it - Mary is not a hero who saves her world, she is only trying to save herself. She, in ways, is at the edge of a bigger story that we only look at through her eyes as she dances on the edges of it. I found that only touching on this larger mystery to be both tantalizing and frustrating. However, this technique truly helped build the atmosphere in the story. It left me wondering for weeks, and, even though I am not a fan of zombie stories, I may have to read the sequel...
This story is geared for teens, but would be a great read for any zombie lover, teen and adult alike.