The Forest of Hands & Teeth (and getting NO sleep!)

Remember that zombie thing I wrote about the other day? How I said I felt like my life was overrun by them? It’s baaaack.

Today, to celebrate being done with the play, I figured I’d stop by my local bookstore and treat myself to a book. Okay, three books. I may have also ordered two more…

One of the books I bought was Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Feet. There’s been such buzz about it on Twitter & the blogs, and it even has a snazzy u-tube video.

And it’s about zombies.

Yeah, I missed that part. Even after I saw the video, I was thinking more along the lines of M. Night Shayamalan’s The Village or Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Running Out of Time. I didn’t think of zombies. Clearly, this was an oversight on my part. I should constantly be thinking about zombies these days. In fact, if I have two consecutive non-zombie thoughts, someone should come bop me on the forehead like they do on the V8 commercials and ask me what I was thinking!

Except, prior to this fall I had never read or seen anything featuring a zombie – unless you count the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which I don’t. I’ve still never seen a zombie movie – which should make March 20th interesting.

Zombies. Except, I don’t believe they’re actually called zombies anywhere in the The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which is amazing, by the way. Also, it’s finished, or rather, I’ve finished it. I decided to read a few pages before I went to bed tonight. Now it’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m too scared to sleep. Since I’d have to get up in less than 30 minutes anyway, there’s no point in chancing nightmares.

This is not a story of slow immersion, one where you gradually get used to the characters and plot. This is a story that you cannonball into and gasp for breath as you hit the icy waters. You continue to gasp for breath because there’s no getting comfortable in a world where someone is always – literally – waiting to grab at you from all angles.

The characters are complex and conflicted – you want to shake them and tell them what to do – but you understand their complexities and conflicts. I found myself empathizing even when I disagreed and weighted by the choices Mary faced.

One particular aspect of this book that I loved was Mary’s character; she is so remarkable, admirable and strong. She not defined by a man, nor is she completed by one. Mary’s goals and longings may be affected by love, but she doesn’t dissolve and become an extension of the hero.

Bravo, Carrie Ryan! I hope you’re getting lots of writing done in that Irish castle because I can’t wait to see what you come out with next.

So back to zombies. I think I might need to read more of the Zombie Survival Guide. Maybe even buy my own copy.

Of course, if the zombie apocalypse started today, I’m totally out of luck. There’s not enough caffeine in the world to combat the zombifying effects of fear-inspired sleep-deprivation.