In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?
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Next: The Dead-Tossed Waves
This book came off as a cross between the movie The Village and the TV show The Walking Dead. Entertaining, but FREAKY. Like, I did not go for more than a few minutes without being freaked the hell out. Or in mourning. Yes, it felt like I was constantly mourning some tragic death. Honestly, it was like waltzing into a nightmare, but an attractive one. I know, you're like Huh? This post-apocalyptic world that Ryan constructed may be a work of speculation but it's lifelike. With all this talk about a zombie apocalypse, it's so easy to visualize our world reverting to Puritanical times, only zombies - or in this case, the Unconsecrated, as they are called - are intertwined.
Mary's the narrator and main protag here, and a genuine one. Her fears and dreams are tangible ones. Imagine living your life confined to a small town that is gated on all sides - to keep the zombies from killing them all - with no connection to the outside world, to a different sort of people. Living a life that surrounds you with the same people, same mundane activities day-in and day-out. Trying to survive in a place where being curious and questioning is shunned, dreams of seeing beyond The Forest of Hands and Teeth are laughed at and brushed aside. One that really restricts your average dreamer. And on some level, that's what Mary is, a dreamer. She envisions and hopes, despite all the odds, of a life for herself out there by the ocean that is declared as nonexistent. She desires to discover the unknown and bask in it. Remarkable, if you ask me. If it was me, living in fear of zombies breaking into the town where I live, being forced into a marriage with a person I don't want or love, I'd be all cheerless and depressed. Mary has the courage to dream... and to act. And that's what makes her an admirable character. I can't label her as selfish, either, because I'd wish for the same things and if I had the oppurtunity to get them, then, like her, nothing and no one would get in my way.
Still, her daily life makes for a desolate existence. And following the loss of her parents, the rejection from her brother, things just proceed to grow worse and worse. Like, for example, a forced initiation into the Sisterhood. Man, those chicks are TERRIFYING. Not to mention unorthodox and secretive. I'd like to add sadistic to the list, too. I always knew there was a reason to be chilled by nuns! Knew it. But what really fueled my terror and gloom was the resulting heartache of the horrible deaths of some of my most favorite characters. Let me just.... forewarn you all now. If you're a big fan of long-lasting love and romance, do not look this way! I mean it, turn around! You will be heartbroken.
And that concludes my almost-sorta spoilery thoughts. Trust me, I won't rant about something(s) that will give anything away. I promise. My lips are sealed. *whimpers in protest* JEEZ, I want to spill SOOOO bad! Okay, cool it, Asher.
Moving on. Or not really. Because I do have to mention the sweet romance. Though it's not the prime focus of the novel, it is pretty heartwrenching and pleasing. It was so hard for me to witness Mary struggle with her feelings, struggle with what to do with them. Are they even reciprocated? And even if they are, how does one get around the Sisters, among other obstacles? Let me just say, though, that Travis is mostly worth it. I was a little peeved by some of his decisions, some of his attempts at protecting his fair maiden. At those points I wanted to grab him by the scruff and scream and shake him. Smack him around a little. Like, screw everyone/everything else, just go get your girl! And while circumstances eventually moved them closer, I found myself satisfied but then promptly dissatisfied. Does that makes sense? *nods* I guess it would only really fit if you read the book. Which you should go do... now. Um, why are you still here? But, wait, don't go. I'm not really sure it's a good idea anymore. After all, it is mostly entertaining, but in a gruesome, torturous kind of way. Oh, crap. Just bear with me, people.
And that ending.... I don't know which is a more plausible reaction: weeping or laughing. I was happy for Mary but then... after all that happened, all of the lives lost to get her to that point in the end, to that place where her dreams become a reality... I couldn't help but feel drained and upset at the same time. It's been a long time since I've felt so conflicted! But, the question is was I happy with this book? And the only answer I have is a big YES and NO. I'm torn. Perhaps my opinion isn't so helpful after all, huh? *lol* Sorry about that. I guess you're just going to have to go see for yourself, no?
Tread carefully with this one. You're definitely in for an emotional roller-coaster, that twists you up and makes you all warm and happy inside. It's hard to hate this book, because, even without all of aspects that tugged at my very sensitive heart-strings, it's a great story! Skillfully told. Real and deep. I'd even go so far as to say it was beautiful, in a bittersweet manner. If you're a big fan of zombies, go for it! If you don't like the whole zombies-snacking-on-people aspect, then turn the other way. For some reason, I'm thinking if you like this one or would like to be turned on to something that's similar in that the story is placed in a dark and intense setting, you might want to give Crusade by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie and The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver a shot.
Who are we if not the stories we pass down? What happens when there's no one left to tell those stories? To hear them? Who will ever know that I existed? What if we are the only ones left -- who will know our stories then? Who will remember those?
It's not about surviving. It should be about love. When you know love...that's what makes this life worth it. When you live with it everyday. Wake up with it, hold on to it during the thunder and after a nightmare. When love is your refuge from the death that surrounds us all and when it fills you so tight that you can't express it.
*Sorry, no page numbers this week. I scribbled down the quotes I liked best but forgot to include the page numbers before I returned the book. Oops.