The Forest of Hands and Feet (Book 1)
by Carrie Ryan
** spoiler alert ** Life inside the village is the only life Mary knows. It's not as if she can go out of the village. It is fenced all around, constantly guarded, and for good reason. Outside the village, beyond the fences, lies the forest of hands and feet. Within the forest, danger and death lurk in the forest - the Unconsecrated. The Unconsecrated are zombies; things that were once human, somehow got infected from an Unconsecrated, dies and then comes back to life as an Unconsecrated themselves. And the Unconse ...more Life inside the village is the only life Mary knows. It's not as if she can go out of the village. It is fenced all around, constantly guarded, and for good reason. Outside the village, beyond the fences, lies the forest of hands and feet. Within the forest, danger and death lurk in the forest - the Unconsecrated. The Unconsecrated are zombies; things that were once human, somehow got infected from an Unconsecrated, dies and then comes back to life as an Unconsecrated themselves. And the Unconsecrated thirst for human flesh and blood.
At the start of the book, you get the sense that prior to this, things have been relatively "normal" in Mary's life and her experience within the village. She has now come of age in the village, and can be courted. Though she wishes Travis to begin courting her, his brother, Harry, instead begins to show her his interest in her - well, almost. With the lose of her mother to the Unconsecrated, life for Mary has become difficult, to say in the least. She is left with few options now that both her parents are gone, lost in the forest and Unconsecrated. Her options are: she can stay with her older brother and his wife, she can have a boy officially begin courting her, or she could stay with the Sisters in the Cathedral. Things do not go in Mary's favor - her brother blames her for allowing their mother to intentionally get infected, as well as dealing with his wife having a miscarriage, he banishes her from what used to be there family house but now was his house. And with no one coming to "claim" and court her, she is left with no choice but to live within the Cathedral and be prepped to become a Sister. Her visits with the injured Travis and the appearance of a girl from Outside of the village make Mary begin to question what's out there, beyond the forest, and why the Sisters are keeping so many secrets.
Not long later, the mysterious girl, Gabrielle, disappears from her room in the cathedral, but Mary spots her - on the other side of the fence, an Unconsecrated. Soon after, a massive hoard of Unconsecrated breach the fences and go after any villagers that they can get to - to bite them and eat them. Through quick thinking, Mary lead Harry, her now betrothed, and Jacob, a little boy Harry narrowly saved from the Unconsecrated to a gated path that Mary has discovered Gabrielle came from. The only others who have escaped and also have gotten to this fenced path are Travis and Cass, Mary's best friend, and her brother and his wife. Though she is driven by her mother's stories about the past and the existence of an ocean to find what's beyond the forest, Mary must decide whether to continue pursuing her goal of reaching the Ocean or find a way to survive in their new environment....
I was excited to read a YA book that was not about angels or vampires or werewolves, though I do love my share of them. The book is well written and the basis of the plot is very interesting, but I felt the need for more details - sudden events occur and then things continue on, and are only described in the briefest, most basic way. I also had issues connecting not only with Mary, but the other characters as well. You never really get a sense of any of them. Perhaps a bit more from Travis, but this is brief due to untimely events. By the end of the book, questions are still not answered. And I also did not like how impersonal and lack of feeling& detail deaths are. With the cliffhanger ending, the author is likely to continue with at least 2 more books. Will the unanswered questions be answered then? Or are we just going to get a whole new set of questions and problems ontop of the ones the end of the book leaves us with? I am undecided as to whether or not I will read the next book in the series.
Rating: 3/5 Stars