Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Hachette Gollancz
Length: 320 pages
Mary lives in an isolated, unnamed village which is bound by a series of rules. Their community is fenced in and heavily patrolled by the Guards – in order to keep out the hordes of Unconsecrated (zombies!) who lurk on the other side and throughout the forest. Having grown up hearing stories about life prior to the zombie invasion, Mary dreams of the ocean and the possibilities that could lie beyond the two paths in the fenced-off forest.
Until one day the safety of her village is compromised by an attack of the Unconsecrated and the ordered life Mary knew is thrown into chaos. Mary and a small group of those who manage to escape the invasion (including her brother, her betrothed, her best friend and the boy she loves), together enter the forest and travel along the mysterious path into the unknown to try and ensure their survival.
This is hands-down, one of my favourite books. Though I deliberately picked it up because I knew it was about zombies, I think it’s an engaging and enjoyable read regardless of your personal interest in the undead. It was essentially my first experience with zombie-themed young adult literature and I was amazed with incredibly high quality of the work (because let’s be honest, zombies are not know for their sophisticated background and literary prowess). Ryan has crafted a sophisticated post-apocalyptic teen story which combines action and suspense with an emotional core and resonant, contemporary themes. Oh, and we certainly mustn’t forget, there is also quite a heart-wrenching romance plotline and a love quadrilateral.
If you pick any novel from Zombie Week to try reading for the first time, I can’t recommend The Forest of Hands and Teeth enough. Even if you aren’t a zombie fan, the well-developed cast of characters, gripping journey and forbidden romance will surely sustain you as a reader.
An incredibly writing debut by Carrie Ryan (and just to encourage aspiring writers, the first manuscript for this novel came out of Nanowrimo).