|Renay (renay) wrote,|
@ 2009-04-02 08:40 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||books, let's get literate! 2009|
That Summer, Sarah Dessen
Red Seas Under Red Skies, Scott Lynch
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
One Piece 46, Eiichiro Oda
One Piece 47, Eiichiro Oda
One Piece 48, Eiichiro Oda
One Piece 49, Eiichiro Oda
One Piece 50, Eiichiro Oda
Tsuki ni Ichido no Omeshi Agari, Ike Reibun
Darling 2 ch1, Yuzuha Ougi
None of these are review copies I need to read and review, although I am working on one of them right now! In fact, I want to know why more people haven't read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness because I think it's fascinating and I want someone to meta with.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan: Mary has grown up behind the fences, her small village buried in a dense forest surrounded by Unconsecrated that moan and shuffle around the protected people, unrelenting and full of the eternal desire for tasty snacks. All Mary has is her mother and the stories passed down through generations of women of the time before the Return, before the dead stood up and asked
I found out about this book via A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy and I couldn't get it out of my head because, well, zombies. In the book, though, they're not called zombies; they're Unconsecrated, the dead-walking, strangers as well as friends and family that have wandered too close to the fence—like Mary's mother, who, although it's never actually confirmed, Mary suspects she was bitten by the Unconsecrated that used to be Mary's father. Unconsecrated or zombies, they're very effective as an antagonist as well as a metaphor for what Mary lives through in the course of the book. At times her inner monologue came close to "I can haz theme" and one time hit it directly. I might have rolled my eyes, guys, I'm not lying. Don't take the mystery out, authors! I like digging for answers, really. That gold platter is nice, but I like silver. It's more subtle. Figures I can let one sentence from one chapter harsh my buzz. XD
Surprise! This book is also a story about interlocking love triangles. I keep stumbling into stories with love triangles even though I'm not fond of them. I want stories where there's two interesting people and awesome subtext with violence optional. Adding more than two is a recipe for angst I don't find altogether appealing. If I was asked to sit and list love triangles I've enjoyed, I would be hard pressed to come up with any at all. I've sure there are some, but um...yeah, I've got nothing. What's more, as Mary goes into the Sisterhood and begins to fall in love with Travis as she nurses him back to health, I kept thinking, "why are you lying to yourself?" I also wondered at the choices Mary faces between Travis and Harry; what the hell happened to Harry? I suspect Jed of being a jerk, honestly. How Mary interacts with Travis and Harry and other villagers as they face complete extinction becomes a direct parallel to the Unconsecrated who wait and claw at the fences, hoping for a taste.
The thing I appreciated most about the book is that Mary bucks the system; the other female character, Cass, embraces her role as caregiver and future uterus for the failing human race because that's what she wants to do (I assume), but Mary chooses not to settle, even when it hurts. She regrets, but she keeps moving on, because as much as she loves and as much hurt as that love brings, she has dreams she doesn't want to compromise. She doesn't want to choose; she wants to have it all. Considering the post-apocalyptic future she inhabits, full of faith-based reasoning, she's a rebel—a career woman who has made it her job to find life not surrounded by the hulking bodies of a society that's gone too far. She's not as ready to lay down, trapped by the undead all around, and make a life similar to the one she had before her mother was Infected.
Another thing I thought was interesting was the use of red in the story; clothes and blood and how it coded different meanings. The idea of red as something notable in this world made me immediately think of The Handmaid's Tale; in fact, as I read this book I honestly came to wonder if some inspiration wasn't drawn from that story. The color red and what it symbolized, the Sisterhood as it related to the control over everything (they reminded me of the Aunts) all made me go, "I feel like I've read this somewhere before.". The tone of the novel is the same, especially when the fence is breached and Mary must face the world outside her small village. Mary's voice reminded me creepily of Offred as she considers and learns more about the world through second-hand fact and observations; those observations are often detached and the only emotion she finds is in the people with her (a bit lackluster unless she's kicking ass to save them) or the possibilities of freedom in the paths that lead away from her village.
The paths are useless strips of land covered in brambles, bushes and weeds. The gates blocking them have remained shut my entire life.
No one remembers where the paths go. Some say they are there as escape routes, other say they are there so that we can travel deep into the Forest for wood. We only know that one points to the riding sun and the other to the setting sun. I am sure our ancestors knew where the paths led, but, just like almost everything else about the world before the Return, that knowledge has been lost.
We are our own memory-keepers and we have failed ourselves. It is like that game we played in school as children. Sitting in a circle, one student whispers a phrase into another student's ear and the phrase is passed around until the last student in the circle repeats what she hears, only to find out it is nothing like what it is supposed to be.
That is our life now.
Also, I found the similarities between Mary's village concerning births and Offred's story concerning the same pretty telling and not just for the disease or birth defect reason: how can people be healthy when they're so unhappy? How much of the problem with popping out babies was to do with disease and how much had to do with general displeasure with life with so little hope? Mary's search for the ocean of her mother's memories, the blue that stretches on forever, is the one thing I really felt Mary desired, the hope she held on to besides a lackluster life with any man that she settled to have. Her hope was a desire for so much space, surrounded by nothing but water with nothing to run from or a duty to fill. I would love to reread The Handmaid's Tale and compare the themes: duty and love and and sexuality and social control and women as the hope of a population that's kept subjugated by the whims of other women.
I was never really attached the the writing style, though, which is probably just me. The dialogue was forced to my ear. Everyone knows how I am about dialogue. If it sounds clunky in my head I usually try reading it out loud to get past it, but it only made it worse. However, I advise everyone else to ignore my problem with the dialogue and read this book anyway, because I am a picky bitch and I don't think it detracts at all from the story if you're not me with my issues of hearing music in dialogue (or in this case, the lack of). The other criticism I had was with the number of zombies and Mary's descriptions: if the village is convinced they're the last people and their population is dwindling, where do the additional zombies come from? Eventually, after so many generations, the hoard would diminish through being decapitated or torn apart by their own movements, enough not to be the massive threat the village treats them as. I know, I know, shut up, Renay, don't question a their logic! They're at the end of their rope!
If there weren't enough answers here, leaving me doing the grabby hands for more world building, there's a companion novel, The Dead-Tossed Waves, coming out in the future that could build on the possibilities of what we already know about the world. Mary's story ends makes me think that life outside the forest will be just as interesting as life inside was seriously messed up. The Forest of Hands and Teeth made it onto my young feminists kick serious ass list and I'm not sure I can give it higher praise than that.