Monday, March 15, 2010

Forest of Hands and Teeth

Ryan, Carrie. 2009. FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780385736817 [Suggested Grade Levels 10- 12]

In this dystopian fantasy Mary, a young woman on the brink of adulthood, has some important choices to make. Does she bind herself to a man she doesn’t love and take on her place in society to ensure the survival of mankind? Or should she follow her dreams and search for a life outside her bleak existence? Mary lives in the world after the “Return,” where the “unconsecrated” roam the earth looking for flesh. Society has been driven to the edge; both geographically, behind the walls of fortified villages, as well as mentally, as citizens watch their infected relatives decay right outside their village.

Carrie Ryan weaves the traditions and vocabulary of this society beautifully and seamlessly into the text without stopping to define or defend it. Her characters are well drawn and their depths and relationships are explored during the course of the story. While there are gruesome descriptions and violent scenes, they are told in brutally beautiful language and not used to shock, but to reinforce the grim reality of Mary’s world. Yes, this is a book about zombies, but it is so much more. It is a book about wanting “…to believe in hope” even in the face of impossible odds.

Zombie movies have been around for quite some time and the theme seems to be making a comeback. Discuss why zombies are so frightening. Also consider some of the recent parodies regarding the genre, like “Sean of the Dead.”

Other brainy zombie books:
Austen, Jane and Seth Graham-Smith. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES. ISBN 9781594743344
Brooks, Max. WORLD WAR Z. ISBN 9780307346612
Matheson, Richard. I AM LEGEND. ISBN 9750765318749

By Marianne Follis

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