Published July 2009 by Random House Children's Books
Paperback, 310 pages
Source: Borrowed from friend
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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?I was initially wary of starting this book. I'd read some zombie stories before, but I never was too impressed with them. This one, however, has set the bar high for any that I read following it. It did have a slightly slow start, but after that it was a constant page-turner.
The world that Ryan created is both utilitarian and evil. Each have their own unique ways of oppressing Mary in her life. From the fences and secrets that hold her inside the village to the Unconsecrated that are forever trying to get in to it, Mary holds on to to hope that there has to be something better. There has to be a world where she could have a choice in her life instead of the necessity of just surviving. This is not the place for splurges or frivolous wants and wishes. However, once the village is breached, many tough decisions await afterwards. The series of events that follow are amazing! There's just the right mixture of action, terror, and romance that kept my attention right to the very last page.
Mary is a very interesting character. As she was fairly open, I felt like I could relate to her and the emotions that she was dealing with. She carries a somewhat volatile thought process though, and that affects a good part of the plot line. I lost touch with her a little towards the end but she did come around. Since things are kept simple and, in many cases, secret, there is a lot that characters just can't see for themselves. This was slightly irritating to me at times, but by no means a deal breaker. The relationships between the characters were an interesting mixture. The lifestyle they lead affected them deeply and the conclusion of the books showed the results of those effects.
All in all, this was a great book and I cannot wait to follow up with the others. It will be interesting to see where Ryan takes this story line now. I'll be keeping my eye out for the set, they'll definitely be going on my shelves.