Friday, April 1, 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth: The beginning

YAY! April First! No fool here, just a Fearless Blogger, sending her static out into the blogosphere! We’re here to begin the discussion of The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

My mother used to tell me about the ocean. She said there was a place where there was nothing but water as far as you could see and that it was always moving, rushing toward you and then away. She once showed me a picture that she said was my great-great-great-grandmother standing in the ocean as a child. It has been years since, and the picture was lost to fire long ago, but I remember it, faded and worn. A little girl surrounded by nothingness.

The first paragraph of the Forest Of Hands and Teeth.

Imagine not being sure you believe in the ocean. You’ve seen a picture of it and you still can’t believe, because pictures are relics of such an ancient time you’re not sure if they’re based in truth or fantasy. This simple idea introduces us to the world in Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It begins, steeped in melancholy, with a distinctly literary tone. Even the zombies are imbued with mythical terms: they are the Unconsecrated and surround the main character’s village like a neverending forest, their moans filling the air. *shudder*

Product Description from Amazon:

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?

Link to Amazon: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

For a zombie book, it starts off quite innocently. You must understand, the apocalypse has already happened, the big cities are crumbled to dust and humanity has drawn behind the fences, regrouped and reformed. Mary’s greatest worries are her mom’s mental health (dad’s gone into the Forest of Hands and Teeth, something that is never explained, and mom wanders the fence line, watching for him) and secondly, is anyone going to ask for her hand at the Harvest Celebration? So it’s not like the characters are running through cities, boarding up a farmhouse and collecting weapons to make a last stand. Humanity has survived, and now, they are just trying to be human. For some readers, that might be a bit of a downer, but I was immediately hooked by the idea of having to live surrounded by the undead, and trying to be normal.

I’m not sure how I came across this book, but I was intrigued that a zombie book had such a poetic title. I read the first few chapters online (Amazon - thank you! You don’t have to have a Kindle, either, you can click on the “read first chapter free” button and it comes up on the screen). I was hooked and got it from the library. This was my first zombie book, unless you count Stephen King’s Cell, which is not exactly about the undead. Carrie Ryan manages to weave the world building among the story, which is told in first person. You get an understanding of the world and its simplicity, as well as the weight of the constant fear, the impending doom lingering beyond the fence line, the Unconsecrated that never tire and never go away.

So, to my way of thinking, this book had a very good beginning. Next week, I’ll talk about the characters and how I found reading a book about zombies a little different from watching a movie... Same bat time....

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