Too bad for everyone else, I'm not normal. And my Vanilla Ice-listening, parachute pants-wearing ass just loooooooves bad YA.*
*I don't actually own any parachute pants or Vanilla Ice CDs. But, you know, I totally would.**
Anyway, THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel set in a world inhabited by zombies, called Unconsecrated. It's part Night of the Living Dead (1968) and part The Village (2004). Mary lives in a village that is cordoned off by fences. When the sirens sound, they retreat to towers or lock themselves in. But one day, an outside girl comes... and everything changes. Mary learns that their world might not be as isolated as they thought, nor as safe.
I personally really enjoyed this book a lot. The dreamy story-telling, the emotional stakes, the fact that the heroine is allowed to be unlikable and selfish, the world-building. I am not usually one for zombie stories, honestly. I think they're gross. I'm a vampire girl-- I like my undead with fangs. But Ryan really sold it. When Mary and her friends, Cass, Travis, Harry, Beth, and Jed (well, he's her brother, but you know) are wandering through the network of fenced paths, heading towards the unknown, it feels so claustrophobic and tense. I found myself quickly sucked into the story and finished it in a day.
The thing I think a lot of people won't like about this book is that there is a love square (Mary likes Travis, who is engaged to Cass, who is in love with Harry, who is engaged to Mary) and the heroine really comes off as selfish in a lot of the book. Also, it's depressing as hell.
But apart from that, it honestly felt pretty fresh and enjoyable to me, and I think if you like The Village and zombie movies, you'll really like this book. It's like a teen soap opera version of The Walking Dead, and if that makes you want to read this book, you're probably well within the target audience. I own the whole "trilogy" but I must note that the two subsequent books are "companion" books. Mary's story ends with this one and the other two books each feature different narrators. That disappointed me a little bit because if I really like a story and am invested in a character enough to read further into the series, I generally like it to be about that character, but I'm still interested in seeing what Ryan does with this world.
4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars