Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Sunday Book Review, August 14, 2011: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Madame L doesn't usually enjoy zombie stories, but she recommends this young adult zombie novel, "The Forest of Hands and Teeth," by Carrie Ryan.

Ryan does a great job of dealing with typical young adult issues through her heroine Mary, who has al the usual problems of bad relationships with parents,* alienation from friends and community, a corrupt and oppressive society, and the need to find one's own strengths while dealing with the tumultuous emotions of the teenage years.

*Yes, hard to have a good relationship when your father has become a zombie and your mother longs to join him in that non-life.

The story is set in a small, enclosed, and carefully guarded village in post-apocalyptic America. The village is surrounded by fences to keep the "Unconsecrated" out, and by religious restrictions to keep unconsecrated feelings and behavior from disturbing the order established by an oppressive, if well intentioned, sisterhood.

Madame L is reminded of M. Light Shyamalan's hugely underappreciated 2004 film "The Village,"  in which the people of an isolated village are terrified by the threat of monsters living around them.

In Ryan's book, though, the monsters are real; and they have been created by humankind's own overreaching desire to thwart God's purposes by creating eternal life. It may be that Madame L enjoyed the novel because it wasn't actually about zombies, though zombies play an important role in the story.

The book is available in paperback from for $9.99 or in hardcover at a sale price of $6.80. A sequel, "The Dead-Tossed Waves," is available in paperback from for $8.99. 


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