The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
When Mary's questions about her place in her village threaten those in authority, she faces danger from within the fences as well as from the relentless zombies thronging outside.
Mary, Mary, Mary. Why are you so annoying? For a girl who grew up in a village surrounded by the constant threats of the Unconsecrated outside, you sure are worthless in a zombie fight. I kept asking myself "These are the ones who survived the apocalypse? Really?"
Mediocre is the most charitable adjective I can use to describe this melodramatic book, which makes me sad. The title is so captivating (seriously, what a great phrase to describe the hordes of the living dead!) that I wish the contents were less pedestrian. There are so many missed opportunities here!
First of all, the idea of a small community ruled by a Sisterhood is great (though their vows of lifelong celibacy seems foolish in a depopulated world). But the Sisterhood quickly prove to be your typical religious wackos who make for absurdly cliched villains.
Side note: Please stop making Christians your punching bag, writers. At least take the trouble to make them seem human, and give them a shred of a conscience or awareness when they violate basic religious tenets (like committing murder, for example - pretty sure that's one of the Ten no-nos). And maybe a scrap of common sense? Contrary to what some believe, having faith doesn't make you stupid, sexist, or controlling. In fact, embracing religion seems to be a pretty good way to reject despair during a zombie apocalypse. Just sayin'.
I'm not saying it's always bad to write villains who are Christians, because Christians are people too, and prone to mistakes and evil-doing. I'm not fine with terrible one-note, one-dimensional villains who are evil and stupid because they are Christians. That's bigotry. And bad writing - not sure which offends me more.
Readers, if you are looking for a more thoughtful take on post-apocalyptic religion, try A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter J. Miller, Jr. If you want a more competent group of zombie apocalypse survivors, check out Colson Whitehead's Zone One or Max Brooks's World War Z. And if you want a truly kick-ass YA heroine, please substitute a reading (or rereading!) of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
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