Since I started teaching two large English classes for my online job just two weeks ago, I've been pretty much out of the loop. Being online for 4 to 6 hours a day for correspondence and grading can take it all out of me, and at that point I really do want to just head outside for a bit! However, in the midst of the chaos of teaching online, I flipped open The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan to just give it a little once over. That's all it took, and I was gone!
Synopsis: I'm not 100% sure I want to give this book any sort of synopsis for fear of giving away one single thing in the story. If you haven't read any reviews yet, I would recommend that you walk into this book as blindly as possible. I had read a few things, but very little. For the basics, Mary is a young woman entering that time in her life when she must begin the steps towards marriage. In the midst of that decision, Mary is living in a protected society, surrounded by the Unconsecrated. Who are they? What's her life to hold?
That's it. I refuse to say any more!
Review: As far as engaging me right away, this has to range right up there near the top of my list for the year! I had avoided reading too much about "what" it was about, and focused on the reviews others had given it. Thankfully, I knew little, and honestly had a huge, "What in the world?!?" factor going on from the first second. The style Ryan uses is light-handed, and although told in a first person narration that manages to leave you as out in the rain on what's going on as Mary is, it manages to really propel your reading of the story. I loved the thoughtful details that built on one another to continuously reveal small pieces of the story, which then had me gut-wrenchingly, emotionally engaged in the lives of Mary, her family, and her friends. Each time I thought I knew what was going on, another detail would emerge that kept me flipping pages. Mary had much more mature responses to life circumstances than I would have expected for someone of her age, but I still found her courage and love of life enthralling.
Having given it this glowing review, let me also say that this novel had me constantly looking over my shoulder at night, listening for funny noises, or gasping out loud, making those around me ask, "What's wrong?" To me, this book was downright SCARY! I had no idea that it would be so scary, but various scenes in this novel had my heart pounding, my palms sweating, and my head swimming...all the while trying to read even faster to find out what would happen.
Recommendation? Honestly, unless you get scared by Grover on Sesame Street, I'd recommend this book to just about anyone!
For more information see:The Forest of Hands and Teeth.