I just finished book three (The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan) of my 5 book Young Adult Dystopian Challenge. Only two more to go by December 1st.
Mary knows little of the past, only the stories her mom has told her about a world she has never known. In Mary’s world there are two types of people: those in her village and the Unconsecrated who are kept from the village by a fence. After “The Return” an “infection” ravaged the world, turning people into the Unconsecrated – living dead who crave the flesh of the living. The village is protected and governed by the Sisterhood. They provide the rules to protect the village and continue the human race. They also keep secrets. The Sisters have told everyone there is nothing outside the Forest of Hands and Teeth except the unconsecrated. But Mary learns that the Sisterhood does not tell the villagers everything. After Mary’s mother is bitten and joins the Unconsecrated, Mary rejected by her brother and unspoken for by the man she loves, is sent to live with the Sisters. While there, Mary not only stumbles across unanswered mysteries, but reconnects with her lost love, Travis, who is injured and sent to stay with the Sisters while he recovers. During his care, Mary’s love for Travis grows but he is betrothed to Mary’s best friend, Cass. It is Travis’ brother, Harry, who finally asks for Mary’s hand in marriage. However, before the final bonding can take place, the fences are breached and the village is overrun by the Unconsecrated. The only survivors are Mary, Cass, Travis, Harry, Mary’s bother and his wife, and an orphaned boy. This small band sets out into the unknown to search for safety and answers to their questions. Is there anything beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth?
Ryan has created a suspenseful sci-fi/horror/dystopian novel that entices the reader from the first word. Readers will want to keep reading until the last page. Ryan reveals just enough information to pique curiosity while still keeping an air of mystery. When the end of the story does arrive many questions are left unanswered, but that’s ok, there are two more books in which the answers might be found. This story will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you think twice about noises in the night. One note of caution: some of the descriptions of the death and mutilation of the living and the Unconsecrated are rather graphic and are not for the squeamish. I’ve already requested my copy of the next book in the series: The Dead Tossed Waves. Book three: The Dark and Hollow Places is scheduled for release in March of 2011.