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When do your Dreams wreck your present?

  • Apr 28, 2010
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A long time ago, back when it was common to hear the question because of my age, someone asked me "What do you dream of?". My answer changed periodically, depending on what I was currently into or wanted to be, but there was no sort of consistency. Nothing that made me think, if someone showed me the way, I would take the chance in a heartbeat. Not even writing quite frankly. Mary doesn't have that sort of mentality. Her dream was the ocean. No matter what happened that stayed consistent. Through her mother's Death (and Return), the first pangs of love, village tragedy and personal sacrifice Mary consistently held onto the belief that the Ocean was the answer.

I envy that sort of belief. That faith, no mattered how it wavered, made everything she lost almost worth it. I say almost, because towards the end Mary begins to understand what her brother meant about love and how she didn't understand it (in the beginning of the book) at all. I cried for her, wondering if she would have been happier ignorant of the feeling and safer grasping at her dream. She makes mention of that same thought, wondering if her mother hadn't Return'ed if she'd have lived her life happily (though not content). Unfulfilled dreams are like that.

Throughout the novel, Mary grew from a selfish girl into a young woman who understood loss and regret. Its not that she wasn't consentious of others, or only thought of herself, but very often she would worry about the problems of her village in terms of how it made more misery for her. The laws the Sisterhood put forth. The expectations of Sister Tabitha, her brother Jed, the village in general. She was short-sighted in other words. Little things she did added up to a bigger picture she didn't understand, or want to understand. Instead of worrying what an Outsider could mean to the village at large her thoughts were immediately "There is something else! There may be an ocean!" and she ignored the implied threat.

Those closest to her--her older brother Jed, childhood friend Harry and Travis, best friend Cass--she cared about them. And despite anything else they cared about her. Jed may have been upset about what happened with their mother, but he was still worried about her when she was put into danger. Harry tried so hard to keep her, to possess her, that he failed to understand what she wanted. Travis was guilty of the same thing, though for different reasons. Cass, I think she may have been the most truthful, if also the most hurtful at times. As their journey took them deeper and deeper into the Forest of Hands and Teeth, possibly following an endless maze of dead-ends, they grew to know each other.

So imagine my surprise when near the end everything falls apart so quickly. It wasn't the first dire situation, but it was the worst I think. So much left unsaid, so many regrets and 'If only...' I think they weigh a person down. For Mary this was the hard truth she had to learn. When all you do is look towards the horizon and say 'It will be better there', you can't make a life. You lose what you want to share that 'better tomorrow'. And it made me cry for her (again).

This is a zombie book, no matter what you call them, and it made me cry. Its possibly the first time I didn't root for the Zombies to win the day. That's a little unsettling on a personal level. I look forward to reading the second book, The Dead Tossed Waves and learning more about what becomes of Mary's dream of the Ocean. Did she regret her decisions? Wish she could have stopped dreaming and starting living for the now? It's intriguing and I'm glad I have it waiting on my shelf for me!

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More The Forest of Hands and Teeth reviews
review by . November 07, 2009
This novel was very well written. At first, I wasn't really liking Mary so much, but as the book went on a few chapters, I started to connect with her. Mary's one dream is to see the ocean, but an unrealistic one when she's living in a village all fenced in, to keep out the Unconsecrated. The beginning really slaps you in the face with the Unconsecrated, and I was surprised at what happens to Mary's mom, and then her brother's reaction. I had a hard time liking a lot of the characters like Harry, …
review by . September 25, 2009
Mary leads a normal life in her small village in the forest. There are certain truths that she was brought up believing in - the Sisterhood always knows best; the Guardians will protect and serve and the Unconsecrated will never relent. But above all, 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 …
review by . April 19, 2009
Mary's world is fenced in. she lives in a small enclave within the Forest of Hands and Teeth, constantly surrounded by the fear of an attack by the Unconsecrated. All she really knows is that she should listen to the Sisterhood's wisdom, let the Guardians protect her, and perform her expected duties. But Mary's world starts to unravel when her parents are infected and become Unconsecrated and she joins the Sisterhood. She learns about the secrets the Sisterhood has been guarding and that there might …
review by . March 15, 2009
So I had heard this book was a bit scary and the blurb made me think instantly of the movie, The Village. I was beyond excited to read it and try something a little bit different for me. It started out great, I loved the writing and the simpleness of the town, a town that was full of secrets I couldn't wait to learn. I loved the hushed whispering of the Sisters and the romantic encounters between two of the characters and the path... the path that's off limits. I had to know where it was all going.    …
review by . March 10, 2009
Mary's world is a sheltered one. Confined by the fence that keeps the Unconsecrated at bay, her community must live out their lives in hardship, looking to the Sisterhood for guidance, hoping that there never will be a breach of the fence, and praying that they will be able to survive each harsh winter. When Mary's mother is bitten by the Unconsecrated and consequently turned into one of them, Mary is forced to join the Sisterhood. Strict and controlling, they don't take kindly to Mary's questions …
About the reviewer
Alexandra Cenni ()
   I mainly review books for my blog Poisoned Rationality, Amazon and Goodreads.
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Amazon Exclusive: Scott Westerfeld Reviews The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Scott Westerfeld is the author of three sets of books for young adults, including theUglies series, theMidnighters series, and a series of stand-alone novels set in contemporary New York, includingSo Yesterday,Peeps, andThe Last Days. BothUgliesandPeepswere named Best Books for Young Adults by the American Library Association in 2006. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review ofThe Forest of Hands and Teeth:

Teenagers love a good apocalypse. Who doesn't? All those annoying rules suspended. Society's pretenses made irrelevant. Malls to be looted. School out forever.

But in The Forest and Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan's marvelous debut novel, the post-apocalypse is defined more by constraints than freedoms. The book begins seven generations after the Return, an undead plague that has ended civilization as we know it. Of course, a zombie outbreak usually means shotguns and mall looting--the very essence of freedom. But more than a century on from the Return, the malls have already been looted, and shotguns are a distant memory. The novel's heroine, Mary, lives in a village surrounded by one last vestige of industrial technology: a chain-link fence, beyond which is a vast forest full of shambling, eternally ravenous undead--the forest of hands and teeth. No villager ever goes outside this fence, unless they want to die. (And given this bleak scenario, some do.)

Mary's world is bounded not only by the fence but by...

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ISBN-10: 0385736819
ISBN-13: 978-0385736817
Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

First to Review

"Riveting and chilling"
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