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 thought this was such a great concept for a book that as soon as I saw it I knew I had to read it. This is the first zombie book I have read that hasn't been an excuse for a gore-fest.
The first thing I noticed about was its strange resemblance to the film The Village, but with even more of a colonial feel. There is something so bleak that it really drags you into this post-apocalyptic, dystopian world. It gives an outsiders' look at the commercialism of our culture, but also at the natural wonders we take for granted.
I loved Mary, the main character, because despite being trapped in the obligatory love obsession, she is a strong-minded girl. She follows her instincts even when others try to hold her down, and I admire her for it. The sheer sense of betrayal and hopelessness should make this a depressing read, but Ryan really makes you want Mary to find a way out of the Forest of Hands and Teeth, and at the same time free ourselves from sharing in her torment.
I'm giving this book 5 stars for its sheer bravery. It is accessible, easy to read and highly gripping - a truly brilliantly executed Young Adult novel.