Blurb (from Goodreads):
Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to books4reviews.)
This is the second book in the ‘Forest of Hands and Teeth’ series.
Gabrielle (or Gabry) is a teenager. She’s lived her entire life in a lighthouse, surrounded on 3 sides by water and on 1 side by the forest. Her mother is very different to the other people that live in the village, she claims to have been born and raised in a village in the forest of hands and teeth, a story that the people of the village reject as delusional. The reader knows this to be true though as Gabrielle’s mother is Mary – the main character from book 1 – ‘The Forest of Hands and Teeth’.
Gabrielle’s world is a little different to Mary’s in book 1, Gabrielle and her friends have only ever really heard about the Mudo (or unconsecrated) at school, and haven’t had the real-life experiences that Mary had. Gabrielle has always been taught to fear what lies beyond the fence though, and the thought of her friends going over the wall to visit the old roller coaster makes her feel sick.
Her best friend Cira, and Cira’s brother Catcher are both going though, and when it seems like Catcher might return her secret feelings for him, Gabrielle allows herself to go along with their plan, and follows them over the way and to the amusement park.
Gabrielle’s world is soon turned upside down though when a ‘breaker’ (a newly turned unconsecrated that is ‘fast’ and can run), bites one of her friends, and then goes after the rest of the group. Gabrielle is saved by Catcher, but he is bitten during the scuffle, and Gabrielle sees her life crumbling before her very eyes.
Gabrielle runs, but the others are caught by the ‘Militia’ (the men who guard the fence). Those that are bitten are killed, and those that aren’t are imprisoned to await their punishment. Catcher is missing though, and when Cira begs Gabrielle to go back into the forest and look for him, Gabrielle knows that her life will never be the same again.
I really enjoyed this book. I wasn’t sure where the author was going to go after ‘The Forest of Hands and Teeth’ and I was surprised to find that so much time had passed between book 1 and book 2, and that we now had a different lead character.
Gabry is not a brave girl; in fact she’s scared of entering the forest, and wants to stay safe within the fences of the village where she knows it is safe. Like many teenagers though she is swayed by the boy she has feelings for, and follows her friends into the forest. She soon realises what a mistake this is, and wishes that she could go back in time and change things.
We don’t hear much from Mary initially, although we do get some revelations from her later on in the story. I wondered initially who Gabrielle’s father was, but it turned out to be a much more complicated situation that I could have imagined, and I wondered exactly how much time had passed between the end of the first book and the start of the second.
Similarly to the first book we have a sort-of love triangle situation going on. In the first book this was quite a complicated affair between Mary, her best friend Cass, and the brother’s Travis and Harry, and in this book it’s between Gabrielle, Catcher, and a boy called Elias who comes to Gabrielle’s rescue when she goes back outside the village looking for Catcher. Once again though things are never simple, and when not running for her life, Gabrielle agonises over her feelings for the two boys.
I felt really sorry for Gabrielle throughout this book, she just has so much thrown at her, and everything she has ever wanted or loved seems to be taken away from her, even if this was in part due to poor decisions on her part. First she has to deal with friends being infected, dying, or being locked away to await punishment. Then she learns things about herself and her family that she never knew before which leaves her unsure of who she even is anymore, and then there’s even worse to come! Poor Gabry really does go through an awful lot in this story, and you can’t help but feel for her.
I did feel that the story slowed down quite a bit in the middle, and even dragged a bit at points, which is why this wasn’t a 5 star book for me. Things did pick up again towards the end though, for a gripping finish, although we were left with a bit of a cliff hanger. I have to say that I’m intruiged to find out what will happen in book 3, although I hate to think how things could possibly get worse for Gabry and co. in this hell-ish zombie-filled wastleland.
8.5 out of 10.
Loads of pretty covers for this one!