Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have a feeling I'm judging this book more harshly because I disliked the narrator for the audio edition I listened to so intensely. But I'm reviewing the edition I "read," so this is the rating you get.

The narrator for this audio book read in a clipped, petulant tone that made it sound like she was perpetually angry, and that made it sound like it was positively riddled with sentence fragments when she read commas as full stops. It lent some verity to the fact that this is a teenage narrator, but there had to be at least some section where she wasn't pouting or flouncing. It got to the point where I winced every time she said "village" (it came out "vullaich"), or where her name and Harry's or marriage occurred close together.

Protip: don't make characters' names rhyme with a major concept in the first half of your novel, and read your work aloud during the editing phase to make sure you didn't inadvertently rhyme lines of dialogue. I cracked up laughing during one very serious scene, and I had to turn it off until I could stop giggling.

The premise of the book is that young Mary, our first-person teenage narrator, watches her mother turn into a zombie ("unconsecrated" for the purposes of this narrative), is almost turned into a nun, is almost forced to marry, and then the zombies rampage into town because of a zombie that's the Sisters' fault? I didn't follow that part of the story very well, and it was the only thing Mary doesn't obsess over in later chapters to hammer into our heads.

Then Mary, her brother, her sister-in-law, her ex-best friend, her fiance and his brother (who she's in lust with, but who's betrothed to her best friend) go wandering off to find the ocean. At least, that's her goal, and the others don't have a better idea, because there are zombies kinda chasing them from the other side of a chain-link fence and their village is all gone.

There are great swaths of wasted time within the narrative. The timeline is unclear, but it seems to me that there's a week of wandering along the path, hungry and thirsty, where she could've talked to Travis, the boy she's in lust with, about what's going on between them. Then, they reach a village that's been abandoned to the zombies, but there's lots of safe places to perch and lots of stockpiled food to eat. She and Travis shack up, and there's another swath of time during which they could talk or just snuggle, but I get the distinct impression they do neither. Mary goes on at length about how they don't need to talk to one another, because they understand one another so well, and I've never wanted to reach into a book to slap a character more than in that moment.

The rest of the book was probably supposed to be exciting, but I just couldn't wait for this idiot brat to pout her way out of my life. I wasn't feeling the love story, I wasn't feeling the fear or constant threat of the zombies, and the whole thing seemed so poorly paced.

Call this a victim of the hype machine. Call it a bad narrator wrecking a perfectly good book. I was unimpressed with this book, though, and won't be picking up the next in the series.

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