First Lines: My mother used to tell me about the ocean. She said there was a place where there was nothing but water as far as you could see and that it was always moving, rushing toward you and then away.
I bought this ages ago and just never got around to reading it until I needed the shelf space. (Certain books, if I buy them to take to school, will stay home with me until I’ve had a chance to read them first.) And since it’s nearly Halloween, zombies were totally on my must-read list. What’s Halloween without zombies?
Mary has lived by simple truths her whole life. The Sisterhood always knows what is best for the village. The Guardians are there to protect them. The Unconsecrated will never stop coming until there is no one left. And, most importantly, never ever get too close to the fence separating the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But then Mary starts learning that some of these truths aren’t what she thought they were. Maybe the Sisterhood is hiding dangerous secrets. Maybe the Guardians don’t always protect them. Maybe there’s something beyond the fence. When the Unconsecrated breach the fence and threaten everything Mary thought she knew, she’s going to have to make some new truths for herself…and fast.
I will say this for it: if you’re looking for a story with a happy ending, this is not it. Every time you started to hope for something happy, the plot went and crushed your hopes. Every time. So that, at least, felt how I would expect a post-apocalyptic world to go.
But for most of the book, I was massively conflicted. Let me try to explain.
My thoughts on the world Mary lives in: While I found the world itself interesting, there were times I didn’t think it was described enough for me to get a full understanding of where she lived and her customs. I just had so many questions. Like, how small is this village? If it’s as small as it sounds, how are they not all related by this point? (It’s a valid question!)
My thoughts on the characters: I tended to like the characters, but there was usually a serious mismatch between what Mary perceived (and, therefore, us) and what others told Mary was actually going on. For example, it seemed to me that Mary was a bit of a loner. At the beginning of the story, no one cares enough about her to save her from the Sisterhood. And yet later in the story, we hear all kinds of characters talking about how everyone cares about Mary. Um…what? Because this isn’t matching up.
But, like I said, I did tend to like the characters…sort of. I understood Mary’s determination to find the ocean. She saw her village failing before anyone else did, so she was smart. But she was also kind of annoying at times. And, as seems to be my MO of late, I picked the wrong team again. Sigh. It makes the book so much less enjoyable when you’re rooting for the underdog and it never happens.
The zombies were cool, though again, I had a lot of questions. (When don’t I, it seems.)
Just let me add that for all of this complaining I’m doing, I was constantly trying to get back to my book to read. It was suspenseful and action-packed. Hello, we’re chopping off zombie heads with axes. There’s action.
Overall, it’s great on action, but I thought the characters and the world could have used a bit more building to make this a really awesome story.