I had always heard good things about Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and when I saw that the sequel was to be released soon, I decided to pick up the audiobook from the library.

The premise is right up my alley – about 100 years after a zombie apocalypse, a young woman lives in a solitary village surrounded by high fences, which separate them from apparently endless forest infested with hordes of undead. With the positive reviews I’d seen, I had high hopes that I’d really enjoy it. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.

I had heard it had some love story elements, but I thought it was primarily a post-apocalyptic zombie story. Nope, it’s a teenage love story, with all the irrationality that entails, with some zombies thrown in. Mary loves Travis, but Travis is betrothed to Mary’s best friend Cass, but Cass loves Travis’ brother Harry, but Harry loves, you guessed it, Mary.

There’s definitely a lot of action, death, and decapitations of walking dead, but there are even more passages like this:
“Mary, I wanted you too much. And that day on the hill, it was everything. It showed me what life could be—what hope could be. I wanted to believe we could be together. I wanted to believe we could break our vows and that somehow everything would still be okay. I was going to come for you, Mary. Even though I knew I could never be the type of husband that Harry could be. Even though I was a broken man I was going to come for you. I was going to let my passion overwhelm my common sense. But then seeing Gabrielle changed everything. I saw what happened to those who strayed from the Sisters’ path. I saw what would happen to us—to you. And I couldn’t bear it.”

But I could have put up with all the teen romance, if the story delivered on the promise of the premise, but we never find out who built the fences or founded the villages or why. There are tantalizing tidbits, old newspapers with headlines like “Infection Spreads Through Central States – Citizens Urged to Head North” and “Last Stand at Rockies Fails”, but we never get any answers about the basic mythology of the universe.

I found this review on Amazon, which I think sums it up nicely – “The Carrie Ryan books were amazing! If you don’t cry, U R emotionally constipated and need a laxative!”

Heh, maybe I am, and maybe I do, but in the meantime I think I’ll stick with more standard post-apocalyptic or zombie fare.