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?
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Books4reviews.)
Mary lives in a small village surrounded by a fence. On the other side of the fence are the ‘unconsecrated’- the walking dead who crave human flesh and will stop at nothing to get it. Mary has lived in the village all her life, and the only things she knows of the world outside are stories that her mother has told her, of oceans of water, and buildings so tall that they touch the sky.
Mary has only two dreams for the future; the first is that she marries Travis – a boy in the village that she secretly has feelings for, and the second that she see the ocean. Neither of these look like they will ever come true though, after Mary’s mother is bitten and becomes one of the unconsecrated. Turned out by her brother and forced to join the ‘sisterhood’ in the cathedral, it seems that Mary will be a slave for the rest of her life, until one day the alarm sounds, the fences have been breached by the unconsecrated, and Mary and a few of her closest friends are the only survivors.
What else is out there though? Were her mother’s stories true? Is there an ocean out there and buildings that touch the sky? Or are Mary and her friends really the only surviving humans on the planet?
I really enjoyed this book. It was creepy in places, but so honest and raw in others. I loved Mary, (although Mary doesn’t really sound like the sort of name for a girl like her!). I loved her unending faith that there was something more out there, and that she was meant to see the ocean. I loved how she continually pushed, and tried to make her dreams come true, even in the face of oppression and even death. At times she made some silly decisions, but don’t we all, and in the circumstances she managed unbelievably well.
As for the other characters, I have mixed feelings about quite a few of them. Firstly – Jed, Mary’s brother. Jed made me so mad! I really couldn’t believe that with both their parents dead he could be so selfish and heartless as to cast Mary out of their parent’s home, and tell her that she must go and join the sisterhood because nobody else wanted her. How awful is that? No matter how much he was grieving, Mary didn’t deserve that, and I found him to be quite selfish and unfair.
Travis( the boy that Mary had feelings for), was engaged to her best friend. While it was a little unclear as to whether he knew how she felt about him when this arrangement was made, it seemed unfair the way he continued to string her along, right up until their intended marriage day (Travis to Cass, and Harry to Mary), all the time telling her that he would change his mind and ‘come for her’ when in reality it seemed that he would do no such thing. I liked Travis in some ways, but he really needed to make a choice and stick with it, no matter what that choice was.
Harry (Travis’ brother, and the boy who eventually ‘spoke’ for Mary) was a character that we didn’t really get to know all that well. He had feelings for Mary, although the feelings were not returned, and though he did eventually speak up and say that he would like to marry her, I couldn’t help but puzzle over his motivations, especially when he knew how Mary felt about Travis.
Cass – Mary’s best friend; was another puzzling character. Whilst engaged to Travis, she was secretly in love with Harry! The strangest thing about this situation was though, that when Mary suggested that they just swap husbands-to-be, Cass says NO, and tells Mary that she will marry Harry or else, because she doesn’t want Mary to break Harry’s heart! Bizarre I tell you.
I liked the storyline in this book, it was well paced, and the twists and turns were not easy to guess at all. Some of the events in this book were heart breaking, and I’m not sure I’ll ever forget this story. I’m not really sure what can possibly happen in the second two books in this series, but I have to say that I’m excited to find out!
Overall; a zombie-filled dystopian that’s well worth a read.
9 out of 10.