Topically, this was a horror story that kept me from reading after dark1.
Why was it so scary?
Two words: Fast zombies.
Yes, it was my worst fear; a zombie you can't outrun. But it was more than that, really. It wasn't just the ever-present horde just beyond the fence. Always menacing. Always threatening. Tingeing the air with fear. No, it was the type of fear that the Unconsecrated brought with them. Familial fear. The fear that comes with your family being in danger. The fear that you're somehow going to be separated at any given moment by distance or death that got to me the most. It was my worst nightmare played out over, and over. It was gripping and it was real. I was on the edge of my seat, never knowing what was coming next until it was upon me. I actually found myself holding my breath on occasions, and sometimes I just had to put it down so I could unwind. There were touches of reality that gave you a glimpse of the magnitude of the situation that were both wonderful and terrifying.
Mary's dream of finding the ocean, which she learned of from her mother through the stories she passed down to her, is all consuming. It drives her to take chances and explore her village like nobody else ever has before. It emboldens her. It sustains her. She was an excellent character with a lot of backbone and will2. Her life is saturated with tragedy; her father becoming one of the Unconsecrated, her mother falling into despair at the loss and searching the fence line daily for her husband's face, her brother drifting away from her, and her loss of faith in God and the truths she's been taught since birth.
Ultimately, this is a beautifully told story of hope and love. It’s dead scary, tragic, and made it hard for me to fall asleep some nights, but the message is one of never giving up your dreams and never giving in to fear. Even if that fear has teeth and a hankering for your flesh.
I give The Forest of Hands and Teeth...
...Five Zombies3 for scaring the bajeezus out of me.
Maybe I'm a wimp, but I don't recommend this for babysitting gigs or camping trips. I recommend this to anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games, but wished there had been more cannibalism4. It was similarly paced with a great protagonist and story.
Keep your night-light handy,
1 I also couldn't read this at lunch, like I normally do. It just wasn't happening.
2 She’s also pretty handy with an ax, but that’s another story.
3 Technically, it's four regular zombies and one Fast One.
4 Sicko, you wished there'd been more cannibalism?!?!
*** NOTE: I did not receive any product or monetary compensation for this post. This book was obtained through a contest from a fellow blogger. Individual results may vary. ***