Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Hardback, 2009, 310 pages. Library copy.

I found this book from my library's recommendations of books like The Hunger Games. This young adult book also takes place in a future dystopia. I only give it three out of five because while it's a fascinating story, the characters didn't do much for me.

Mary is a young girl in a village surrounded by the Unconsecrated, creatures who were once human before they were Infected. When her parents both succumb to the Infection, her brother leaves her with the Sisterhood, the mysterious religious council that runs the village. She learns more about the Sisterhood's secrets and slowly begins to learn that there is a world outside of her village.

Carrie Ryan has a great way of building up suspense, and she writes amazing action scenes. I read through the first half of the book in one setting. But I wasn't sold on the romance that was supposed to carry most of the book, and I still don't have a very good grasp on Mary's character.

The author creates an eery world and effectively pulls us into Mary's doubt and fear as well as her hopes and dreams. I get scared pretty easily, so the thoughts of the Unconsecrated and their constant hunger were on my mind when I wasn't reading it. I still wish I could have seen more of the characters, though. Cass seemed pretty superficial, I knew nothing about Travis aside from Mary's undying love for him, and Harry and Jed weren't very distinguishable, either. My library has the second book, so I'll probably pick it up to see what happens to the characters.

A few things I could learn from this book:

Make romance real, don't just use it for a plot point. Travis and Mary's undying love? Right, okay. It just fell flat for me. It's like the author was telling me how I should feel about them, but I could hardly see the reason for it at all. Fifty pages in she's declaring her love for him and I still didn't know anything about him by the last page!

Characters should be distinguishable from each other. Aside from their physical characteristics and situations, Jed, Harry, and Travis all seemed the same to me. Like they had the same personalities. They all liked Mary, but were still jerks to her. But I still care about them, so obviously Ryan did something right.

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