Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Trilogy

The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy consists of the following books written by Carrie Ryan.
  1. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, 2009
  2. The Dead-Tossed Waves, 2010
  3. The Dark and Hollow Places, 2011
The books are set a couple hundred years after the zombie apocalypse. Most of the human race has been infected by zombies and only a few scattered communities of uninfected humans remain. Those communities are at constant risk of infection. These are the first books that I have ever read about zombies, and I must say that the content is very scary. While these novels are dystopian novels, I consider them to be more horror than anything else.

From Amazon's product page:
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?

The first book, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, has a love triangle between Mary and two brothers, Harry and Travis. Mary has to figure out what it is that she really wants, not only with respect to the two boys, but in life, while all three struggle to find a away out of the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

The second book, The Dead-Tossed Waves, jumps around 30 years into the future. At first, I was a bit dismayed to have a new protagonist, Gabry, but I was quickly pulled into the action. Gabry has a connection to Mary, and Gabry's story has much to do with the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Gabry is part of a new love triangle with two boys, Catcher and Elias.

The second book tells a very similar story as the first book, although with different characters and twists. This does not bother me, since I enjoy series fiction, which always recycles ideas. While the overall story is much the same as the first book, the second book is just as interesting and fulfilling to read.

The second book ends with a cliffhanger, and the third book, The Dark and Hollow Places, begins shortly after the end of the second book. The third book has another new main character, Annah, but the action also heavily involves Gabry, Catcher, and Elias from the previous book.

The third book is significantly darker and more depressing than the other two books. While the book is very good, I found it to be almost a bit too hopeless. While all three books contain violence, the third book ratchets it up a few notches. Not only do the teenagers have to contend with the zombies, the Recruiters have become extremely cruel. The third book is definitely more for older teenagers, and a number of reviewers have labeled the book as a gateway to adult fiction.

Since the third book has such heavy content, I enjoyed it a little less than the other two books, although I still very much enjoyed it. While the third book has a conclusion to its main story, the ending is also left open-ended. The books have been referred to as a trilogy, but I have heard that the author has also called them a series. So far, the author has not made any comment one way or the other, but the possibility does exist for more books to be written.

You can read the beginning of the first book on Amazon's product page, which is what I always do in order to get a feel for whether I like an author's writing style. I greatly enjoyed these books.

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