Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Recommendation- The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

In The Forest of Hands and Teeth a post-apocalyptic tale by Carrie Ryan , an unexplained contagion occurring generations before has left a village isolated and surrounded by zombie victims, called the "Unconsecrated." Mary is a teenage girl looking for true love within, and a world outside, the restrictive laws of her society. Her life changes dramatically when her mother becomes infected after leaving the village to look for Mary’s father.

Cast out by her brother, Jed, who blames her for what happened, Mary is left no choice but to live with the Sisterhood, a religious order that controls the village. Sister Tabitha runs the Sisterhood, and appears determined to “break” Mary of her curiosity. The arrival and imprisonment of a girl from outside the village shows Mary the Sisterhood’s true intentions. When the village fences are breached by Unconsecrated, Mary and those closest to her flee through a series of previously unknown gated paths, desperate to survive. Where they wind up and who makes it is anyone’s guess.

Mary's desire for self-determination comes off as selfishness, and makes her a less sympathetic character than I would like. The love quadrangle between Mary, Travis, Travis’ brother Harry, and Mary’s best friend Cass, might turn off those looking for a straight-up zombie fix. But any story whose author is willing to let bad things happen to good people provides just the suspense needed to keep a reader on his or her toes, dying (pardon the pun) to know the outcome.

The sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth is The Dead-Tossed Waves. The third installment, The Dark and Hollow Places, is due out Spring 2011.

-Reviewed by Debra B. at CCL

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review- Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi’s first YA novel, Ship Breaker, takes place in the Gulf Coast region of the future. Nailer, a teenage grunt on a scavenge crew, strips wiring out of oil tankers, beached due to hurricanes and no more oil available. He looks to make quota while trying to avoid his violent and drug-addicted father, Richard, and while dreaming of a better life. When a “city killer” (a previously undefined category 6 hurricane) tears through Bright Sands Beach, Nailer and a friend from the scavenge crew find in the aftermath a clipper ship dashed on the rocks. They see their chance to make enough cash to buy their freedom from the crews. The dead girl in the wreckage is draped in enough gold to last them a lifetime. When her rings won’t slide off her water-logged fingers, Nailer gets out his knife and presses it against a joint, drawing blood.

And then the girl’s eyes blink…

I don’t want to give any more away, because that would spoil the suspense. In a world where everyone has a set worth—what they own, how much quota they can make—even what their body is worth in parts—the desperation of the characters in this book means anything can happen. But it’s not as grim as you think: this desperation shows how characters stand together, and support each other if they’ve sworn to it. Nailer is a quickly likeable character that you’ll find yourself rooting for. And while the half-men—a hybrid of man, dog and tiger— that serve as loyal muscle to those who can afford it may seem far-fetched; the scenario of a New Orleans completely underwater, replaced by Orleans II further inland, is not. Early on, an incident earns Nailer the nickname “Lucky Boy.” Just how lucky he is, and where this luck takes him, will keep readers’ eyes glued to the page—I know mine were.

-Reviewed by Debra B. at CCL