The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

I read this for my Go Bag Book Club.  The apocalyptic event in this case is an “infection” that took over the world, aka zombies.  They are known as the Unconsecrated and Mary is mostly safe from them in her village.  It is surrounded by a big fence that keeps the unconsecrated out, and that fence is constantly patrolled and maintained.  Mary’s society is very controlled-The Sisterhood, nun type women in a cathedral who run everything, the Guardians-they check the fence, the way getting married and having babies works.  It’s all a very organized (and old fashioned society.)  It seems like it’s from hundreds of years ago, but we learn that it was generations ago that the infection happened.  It’s just that now not only is there no modern knowledge, but the people living aren’t even aware they are missing out.  Mary doesn’t even know if “the ocean” exists, or if it’s just a story her mother told her.  After Mary’s mother gets given over to the Unconsecrated she is sent to the Sisterhood, where she starts to question the things they have been told and wonders if there’s a way out of her village.  Random thoughts:

a. A main character is called Sister Tabitha (Paul-“no one is a Sister Tabitha” Me: they are made up nuns. It’s post-apocalyptic.) In case you don’t know, my daughter’s name is Tabitha.

b. Although it’s not uncommon, it’s always interesting to see the use of religion-scripture-sisters-to control knowledge for the greater good.  Oh, and Sister Tabitha’s zeal and need for control reminded me of our first Go Bag Book Club selection, Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse, when the guy comes across a woman in charge of a haven of women.

c. I kept thinking at the beginning that it would be like Beth Revis’s Across the Universe, wherein the character starts to get a clue that everything is a pack of lies and has been for generations and that’s really what kept me reading. Waiting for it all to unravel and have some big reveals.  There was some of that, but not enough for me.

d. I hate zombies and gory stuff, and I have to say this was very mild on the gore factor.

e. I was definitely caught up in this and was madly reading towards the end, but then I felt a bit letdown overall.   I just found out there is a sequel, which may make me feel better about the ending. or maybe not. It seems like no one is content anymore to end a book and make you wonder about the characters’ futures.

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