The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (published by Delacorte Press, March 2009)
Mary is a teenage girl growing up in a bleak future where the world has been overrun by flesh-eating zombies called the Unconsecrated. She lives in a fenced village that is controlled by the Sisterhood, an order of women charged with protecting the survival of the village and it’s people. The forest that surrounds the village is infested by zombies and never to be ventured into. But Mary longs to leave and see the ocean that her mother told her about. And she longs for a different life than that chosen for her by the Sisterhood, who have arranged for her to marry Harry, when it is Harry’s brother Travis that she loves.
When an outsider arrives in the village, the truths of Mary’s world begin to crumble. But the arrival of this outsider unexplainably leads to tragedy and the overrunning of the village. Mary and a few others are the only survivors and they must leave the village and find a way to survive outside, not knowing whether or not they are the last people alive on earth.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a wonderful debate novel by the talented new writer Carrie Ryan. Although the story is grim, there are bits of hope in it too, as we see the strength of humanity to survive no matter what. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good young adult novel - it’s definitely not just for science fiction fans. I look forward to reading more by this promising new author.