Zombies are the new vampire. Or so they say. I'm always intrigued by the trends in YA lit--Witches, vampires, angels, and now zombies. Whatever happened to realistic fiction? I'm hoping there's still a demand for it because I can't write paranormal stuff. I'm much to normal for that! :) Maybe by the time my book gets published, realistic stories will be in highest demand.
That said, I thoroughly enjoyed The Forest of Hands and Teeth. With the feeling of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, Ryan's book sets itself in a secluded town surrounded by fencing. Beyond the fences live the Unconsecrated, who though dead, never fully die. They just continue to deteriorate with bones poking through fingers and skin that is torn until eventually, they lose all mobility. No one knows what truly happens then, but it's believed that they lie on the forest floor staring at the sky for eternity, a muddled mess of rotting death.
Mary grew up in this village with a daily fear of the Unconsecrated placed in her mind by the Sisters, the religious sect of the community. After her mother's "death," Mary is turned away by her only living relative. The man she loves has asked for the hand of another and Harry, her second choice of a husband, didn't officially ask for her hand. Therefore, her option is to live in the cathedral and become one of the Sisters. Unfortunately, she doesn't fit in with the Sisters, especially when she discovers that the Sisters are keeping secrets from the rest of the community, secrets that could cause their doom.
Now Mary must decide if she's willing to risk life and love to follow her passion for what may not exist. Spurred by her mother's stories of their ancestors, Mary is determined to leave the village and find the ocean. No one believes her stories, not even her best friend. When the Unconsecrated breach the borders patrolled by the Guardians, she has to decide if she will fight or flee her village, thus facing the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
I think what I liked most about this story was how quickly it moved. I'll have to say that when I began reading, I was immediately drawn in my mind to the movie The Village. I kept thinking to myself, "I know what's going to happen in this book." Delightfully, I was wrong. (I know, I know, It doesn't happen often, but on occasion, my opinion may be skewed.) It took me down paths that seemingly led no where, but then would surprise me with just the right action. (Path pun intended.-- Read the book. You'll understand.)
I still have one question that is left unanswered, "Why did the sisters do that to Gabrielle? Was it just to keep the secret? Why was it so important to keep the paths a secret? It kind of makes sense, but there's a sense that some actions taken by the sisters were unnecessary. But then again, don't we all do things that have no reason? I know I do.
I'm also wondering if those unanswered questions will be revealed in The Dead Tossed Waves, the companion to The Forest of Hands and Teeth.
Sacrificing life for love is a theme that runs through the novel. Mary's seen it happen before and now has to choose for herself between love and life, even when life could mean death. So I ask you, if the person you loved more than anything in the world became Unconsecrated, would you choose to let him/her go, or to become unconsecrated yourself just to be with him?