Literary Friday: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"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?"

I was expecting The Forest of Hands and Teeth to be creepy, and frightening, because....well, zombies. But I wasn't expecting it to be inward-focused. The zombies, while a world-shaping influence (and plenty of creepy), is not the focus of this book. This is a coming of age novel.

Unlike most coming-of-age novels, though, it isn't about the female protagonist finding herself (well, not directly). It's about her rejections. And it's so lyrically done that even when you're frustrated with her lack of passive acceptance, you're cheering for her constant seeking of something better.

She isn't inspired, or special, or amazing. She's just a girl who is unhappy. And curious. And tragic. And amazingly, she's compelling (to me, anyway- I never questioned the status quo enough, growing up). I like that Carrie Ryan gives her (and everyone else) no easy outs. There's no Deus Ex Machina to sweep in and save the day. 

In a zombie-infested world, where you have to find your own truths, life is hard. And once I cracked the spine of this one, I stayed up all night and finished it in one sitting. It was THAT intense. And then, of course, I couldn't sleep because everything sounded like zombies shambling toward me inside the house.

I highly recommend this one for lovers of zombies, fiction (especially that which borders on post-apocalypse or fantasy-setting), strong female protagonists who are unexpected, suspense, and non-traditional YA.

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