Monday, August 8, 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan

Book One - 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.”

In the future, all that is left of the world is a village surrounded by a fence. And beyond the fence is the Forest of Hands and teeth. The fence protects the village from the Unconsecrated or zombies who roam there. Mary has grown up hearing stories from her mother that have been passed down through the generations. Stories of a salt water ocean as far as one could see. Eventually Mary stops believing in her mother’s stories when drought strikes the village and “how could God allow so much water to become useless?’

Mary’s father is missing and her mother is the only one in the village who believes he has not become one of the Unconsecrated. Her brother Jed, a Guardian and married to Beth, takes on extra border patrols in hopes of finding their father and killing him before their mother can see what has become of him. People in the village have gone mad at seeing their loved ones among the Unconsecrated.

One day while doing the laundry in the stream, Mary is joined by one of Jed’s brother-in-laws, Harry. Harry is Mary’s age and has come to ask her to join him at the Harvest Celebration. “The Harvest Celebration is the time in the fall when those of marrying age declare themselves to one another” and is the beginning of courtship before marriage in the spring. In the village, marriage is about commitment, not love. Mary is disappointed when Harry informs her that his younger brother Travis has asked Cassandra, her best friend. Mary is a little disappointed but relieved that someone has asked for her rather than a life with the Sisterhood. But before Mary can dread her first kiss with Harry, the warning siren blares. Mary’s thoughts immediately go to her mother and she runs off leaving Harry by the stream.

Mary’s worse suspicions are confirmed when she reaches the village. Her mother was bitten by one of the Unconsecrated and has chosen to go into the Forest and join her husband rather than death. Jed is furious when he learns of his mother’s intentions and sends Mary to live with the Sisters at the Cathedral rather than his house. While living with the Sisters, one of Mary’s duties involves taking care of the injured. One of her patients turns out to be Travis who has broken his leg. Over the course of his stay, the two grow close and admit their feelings for one another. They realize they cannot act upon their feelings as long as Harry has chosen Mary. They are both heartbroken.

The longer Mary lives at the Cathedral, the more she questions her existence and believes there is something beyond the Forest. The Sisters are keeping the village in the dark and Sister Tabitha warns her that her inquisitive nature will be her undoing. When a strange girl, Gabrielle, arrives at the Cathedral, Mary knows she is from the outside and proof that there is something beyond the Forest. She soon disappears and Mary discovers she is now one of the Unconsecrated but still different. Harry comes to Sister Tabitha and claims Mary as his own. She knows she doesn’t belong with the Sisters but cannot imagine life with Harry. She keeps her dream of a life with Travis alive.

Sister Tabitha begins Mary and Harry’s binding ceremony and her hopes are dashed when Travis doesn’t come for her. Harry will do anything to Mary happy. The two are rudely awakened the next morning by the siren and soon learn the village is under attack by the Unconsecrated. Left to fend for themselves, they rescue a young boy and head for the only safe place, a fenced in path between the village and the Forest. Soon they are joined by Cass and Travis and are forced to spend the night before returning to see what is left of their village.

Will they return to their village or will they continue down the path? Who do they encounter from the village? Can Mary put aside her feelings for Travis to be with Harry? Who will join the ranks of the Unconsecrated? Can Mary set aside her dreams of the ocean for love/

Join Mary on her heart-rending journey through this dytopian, post-apoplectic, zombie-infested world of love and loss.

Book Two - The Dead-Tossed Waves

"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."

Gabry resides in the Oceanside town of Vista. She and her mother live in the lighthouse overlooking the town. Life is simple. With every high tide, Gabry’s mother goes to the beach to decapitate the Unconsecrated or Mudo as the townspeople call them when they wash ashore. When Gabry’s friends decide to sneak into the abandoned amusement park one night, she is reluctant to break the rules. With a little coaxing from her best friend’s brother, Catcher, Gabry climbs over the wall. While the others decide to climb the old roller coaster or dance, Gabry and Catcher go to the carousel. She is thrilled when Catcher admits his feelings and she receives her first kiss. The moment is broken when a lone Mudo or Breaker awakes and attacks the group. Several are bitten and one of the newly turned sets her sights on Gabry. She freezes and Catcher comes to her rescue. Unfortunately Catcher is bitten before dispatching the Mudo. Gabry is horror-stricken and flees from the scene before the Militia arrives at Catcher’s urging.

The next morning, all hell has broken loose in the town. The Council decides to kill those infected and ship off the others to the Recruiters, the military service for the Protectorate, without the benefits. Guilt strikes Gabry since she is the only remaining member of her generation left in town. When she sees that Catcher is missing, she promises Cira, Catcher’s sister that she will find him. Gabry finds the courage to return to the ruins the following night. When she runs into some Mudo, she soon finds a mysterious young man coming to her rescue. Intrigued by him, Elias takes her to where Catcher is hiding. He warns her that Catcher was bitten and will become one of the Mudo soon. He helps her get back to the lighthouse safely and makes her promise not to seek out Catcher again, a promise she doesn’t intend to keep.

When her mother has trouble decapitating a washed up Mudo because she reminds her of someone she knew, a conversation/debate ensues between the two. Gabry thinks wistfully about Catcher talking about the Mudo and refuses to follow her mother’s desire to let it go. “You forget until everything is okay again.” After a heated argument, Gabry’s mother admits she would never forget about her. She mentions her father and presses the issue. Her mother admits to her past and inadvertently says she found Gabry during one of her trips back to the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Gabry is flabbergasted, shocked and angry at her mother’s deception and begins to question the world in which she lives in.

Does Gabry make her way back to Catcher before he becomes one of the Mudo? Who is the mysterious stranger named Elias and why is he in Vista? What happens when Gabry’s mother returns to the Forest of Hands and Teeth and she is left alone?

Book Three -The Dark and Hollow Places

Annah has lived alone in the Dark City for the past three years, ever since Elias left to join the recruiters. His enrollment was for two years and Annah has given up hope that Elias will come back home. On the day she decides to cross the bridge to the Neverlands, Annah suddenly sees her long lost twin sister entering the Dark City. When her companions identified as being infected with the Mudo virus, all chaos breaks out when he jumps into the river to escape. Annah is helpless as she watches her sister be detained by the Recruiters. Annah plans to make her way back into the city and find her sister.

Once back in the city, Annah finds herself in a perilous situation. When a strange man comes to her aid, she is surprised to find it is the same man who was with her sister on the bridge earlier. The two decide to team up together to rescue Annah’s sister and make their way to her apartment to finalize their plans. Upon their arrival, Annah notices a stranger inside and soon realizes that Elias has come back home. Annah is even more shocked to realize the connection between Elias, her sister and her rescuer, Catcher.

Can Annah, Elias and Catcher make their way to the Recruiters’ headquarters to rescue her sister? Will they be able to survive in the Dark City? And what happens when a horde of Unconsecrated follow catcher and Annah’s sister to the Dark City?

This thrilling conclusion to Carrie Ryan’s dystopian trilogy will leave readers rooting for Annah and her companions to the last page.

Visit Carrie Ryan’s website.

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