But today, I thought I'd kick things off with a longer review of one of my favorite trilogies and favorite authors, Carrie Ryan.
THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH
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, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
Now 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 by so much death?
Zombies? Post-apocalyptic world? Hell yes.
I caught sight of this book somewhere online and thought the title was interesting and the cover was pretty. Which proves a point that a snappy cover+title can attract potential buyers. Otherwise, I would've skimmed right over it and possibly never known how amazing this series was. But, thankfully, I looked up the blurb and was intrigued enough to head out that same night to look for it at my local B&N.
Carrie Ryan is not only a masterful storyteller in terms of description, flow and pacing, but she paints a vivid and eerie world I just can't get enough of. I would gladly continue reading if she decided to carry on this series.
Her characters are real. Always flawed, always acting within the constraints of the world around them. Meaning, Mary (and all the others) were raised in a very specific environment that was extremely influential into who all of them became. The world within this tiny village and even into the forest beyond gives me chills, and is written with such flavor and realism it's hard not to be sucked in.
THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES
Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She's content to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. Home is all she's ever known, and all she needs for happiness.
But life after the Return is never safe, and there are threats even the Barrier can't hold back.
Gabry's mother thought she left her secrets behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but like the dead in their world, secrets don't stay buried. And now, Gabry's world is crumbling.
One night beyond the Barrier...
One boy Gabry's known forever and one veiled in mystery...
One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned.
Gabry knows only one thing: if she is to have any hope of a future, she must face the forest of her mother's past.
Second in the series, this book actually takes place a number of years after the first, and it succeeds in expanding on everything we saw in book one. We see Mary, and get a view of what she's been doing all this time, the drastic turns her life took, and how she's dealt with the consequences of her actions. Too, we see what really is beyond the forest and get an idea for just how dire the situation is for humankind.
Gabry was an easier narrator in terms of voice. She had an easy upbringing (for the most part), and wasn't restricted and formed by the same harsh rules as Mary was. So when she's tossed into the chaos, it's interesting to see how she handles herself.
THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES
There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face when she and Elias left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the horde as they found their way to the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.
Annah's world stopped that day and she's been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn't feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.
Except, Catcher has his own secrets—dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah's longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah—can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?
Annah is probably my favorite narrator of the three in this series. From beginning to end, she's a very real girl, and very proactive. Her actions push the story forward and it isn't always things happening to her. (Not to say Mary and Gabry weren't proactive, but I feel there were a lot of times they were simply going with the flow rather than taking initiative.)
Also what I loved about the third book, was the way it expanded further still on the world it's set in. Because no matter how it ends, you're left with a feeling of hopelessness and wonder. What's left now? What is there after this? How will humans rebuild, if they ever will?
OVERALL: I love these books. Love the narrators, the writing style, and - yes, most of all, the world. In fact, the world is its own character, so influential and a monster in of itself, interacting with the characters.
Which book was my favorite? Really hard to say because I loved different things about all of them. I loved the first book because the setting was entirely in the forest. I enjoyed the others for their narrators, character interactions, and the expanded view of the world.
Though for what it's worth, the second book is the one I went through the quickest. I devoured it in 48 hours. Which, when you consider I'm only awake at home for about four hours a day on work-days, is pretty amazing for me.
All in all, if you like creepy books with fast-moving plot and awesome post-apocalyptic world-building, I strongly suggest picking these up. You can learn more at Carrie Ryan's webpage, including pick up a few links to short side-stories taking place in the same world.
Anyone else read these books and enjoyed them? Any other good zombie-esque books you want to recommend?