Review | The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

“In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?”

When I picked up this book, I had no idea it was going to be a zombie-story. Ever since I suffered my way through the first Resident Evil movie, I have had horrible prejudices towards anything involving zombies. In my experience, zombie books have always been about people that I didn’t really like much, screaming and running around and getting eaten, and I have usually been on Team Zombie for as long as I could stand to keep reading. Had someone told me this was a zombie-thing, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

So I’m glad nobody said anything, because I quite enjoyed the book.

This might have something to do with the fact that although the book is full of walking, hungry corpses, they are not the most interesting characters in the story. I have read several reviewers say they didn’t like Mary. I disagree. I think Mary did her best, with the cards handed to her. I also think that she displayed major cahones every now and then. Her brother, Jed, had his moments of being the worlds biggest *insert very bad word here*, but always seemed to make up for it in the end. There’s even a lovable dog (and it doesn’t get killed!)

All in all, the book deals with the relationships between Mary and these people that she has grown up with, after they are forced to escape their peaceful village when the zombies break through the security fence that surrounds it. Although their relationships undergo great changes, there isn’t really a lot of character development. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if Mary had undergone some more personal growth. There was potential there that wasn’t really taken advantage of. I’m still not sure what I thought of the ending. It came on very, very suddenly. Then again, this is a series, so hopefully that won’t matter so much once I get cracking on the sequel.

Review |The adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Jenna Fox wakes from a year-long from a coma following an accident. Her memory is a blank. Her family move into a cottage, far away from everything they once knew. To give her a quiet place to recover, they say. But Jenna feels that something isn’t right. Her parents are hiding things from her. Her grandmother speaks of Jenna before the accident, as if she was a different person. Slowly her memories start to trickle back and Jenna learns that her recovery has come at a terrible cost.

This book takes place somewhere in the future. That didn’t come through in the story at first, and led to a somewhat confusing moment further into the novel. It might just be because I’m not used to reading sci-fi and therefore slow on the uptake. ‘The adoration of Jenna Fox’ brings up a lot of questions around what happens when science goes to far, as well as what it is that makes us who we are.

The only perspective in the story, is Jenna, but you still get a wide variety of characters and her observations of them offers lot of depth, even though you never get a peek inside their heads. I pretty much gobbled this book down at record breaking speed and it stayed with me long after I finished reading. If you’re one of those people who enjoy a little bit of science fiction mixed with just an ounce of teen angst and a pinch of ethical philosophizing, then this might just be the book you’re looking for.

Review | The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

Willie Cooper is a very ambitious archeology student with a bright future. Until she has an affair with her professor and becomes pregnant. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she has an…uhm…episode and tries to run his wife over. 
She returns to her hometown of Templeton on the same day that a gigantic, dead monster surfaces in the town’s lake and causes a media-circus unlike anything Templeton has ever seen.

It’s not very easy for a 28 year old woman to move back in with her mother. Especially not when that mother is Vi, an ex-hippie and a born-again christian. It becomes harder still when Vi confesses that Willie isn’t, in fact, the fatherless product of free love in the 60s. Her father is a upstanding citizen right there in Templeton – but Vi won’t divulge a name, only that the man is related to the famous poet, Marmaduke Temple, through a liason at some point in the past.

From the book description: As Willie puts her archeological skills to work digging for the truth about her lineage, a chorus of voices from the town’s past – both sinister and disturbing – rise up around her to tell their sides of the story. Willie discovers that the curse of the Temple family runs deep. In the end, dark secrets come to light, past and present blur, old mysteries are finally put to rest, and the surprising news about more than one monster is revealed.

I loved this book! I would eat this book if I could. Or at the very least, lick it tenderly. But I borrowed it at the library and I’m not sure where it’s been, so I won’t. I thought Willie and Vi were wonderful all the complexity of a typical mother-daughter relationship was very nicely described, through two characters that aren’t exactly typical. I really enjoyed all the little family secrets that came out as Willie searched for her father, and the way they all came together in the end. The story moved along at a perfect pace and then ended just as it should have. I wasn’t left thinking “it was good, but it would have been slightly better if blah-blah-blah…” It was like eating a perfect piece of cake.

Review | Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them.
Genesis 6:5

Sister Evangeline was just a girl when her father entrusted her to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. Now, at twenty-three, her discovery of a 1943 letter from the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller to the late mother superior of Saint Rose Convent plunges Evangeline into a secret history that stretches back a thousand years: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim.

For the secrets these letters guard are desperately coveted by the once-powerful Nephilim, who aim to perpetuate war, subvert the good in humanity, and dominate mankind. Generations of angelologists have devoted their lives to stopping them, and their shared mission, which Evangeline has long been destined to join, reaches from her bucolic abbey on the Hudson to the apex of insular wealth in New York, to the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris and the mountains of Bulgaria.

The book is written in three parts, where the first and final part take place in modern times, where we follow the young nun Evangeline, who comes from a a long line of angelologists. Not that she knows that, of course. She’s in for quite a surprise. Part 2 takes place during WW2, and revolves around the mysterious – but deeply troubled – Gabriella (Evangeline’s grandmother) and her bookish friend Celestine.

Evangeline is eventually to join her grandmother and the other angelologists in the fight against the nephilim – evil hybrids that were created when a group of angels disobeyed God and mated with human women.

I was skeptical of this book at first. After having plowed my way through quite a few Dan Brown wanna-be’s, I was worried this would just be another one of those. Then I leafed through it, noted that some parts were drowning in footnotes, and my skepticism grew. I ended up enjoying the book, though. Sure, it didn’t wow me. It’s not a brilliant piece of fiction, but it was okay. Gabriella quickly became my favorite character. First she’s this deeply troubled, very mysterious beauty from a wealthy family. Then she’s this kick-ass old lady who can drive a get-away car and fire a gun at the same time.

There were parts if the book that I had trouble swallowing. It is based on Biblical lore, which it takes completely literally. Especially the story of Noah is greatly emphasized. Then it turns right around and talks about genetic research done on the evil angels. As someone with a scientific background, it was very hard to stop my brain from going into a long rant about how genetic facts makes the story of Noah impossible. this might not be the book for you, if this sort of thing annoys you. If you can ignore that, then this is a nice read.

There is a sequel to this book coming out in 2012. I’m not opposed to the idea of reading it. I probably will.