I am not sure why this book is so popular, other than the personality-less melodramatic protagonist who has two boys both lusting after her, which I guess appeals to a lot of teen girls. Mary, the first-person narrator, spends most of this post-apocalyptic zombie novel whining about how much her life sucks and the village sucks and the world sucks because the undead have destroyed civilization and as far as they know, they are the only human beings left alive.
I would have liked to like this book more, but I found the world-building flat (really, you have this one village in the middle of nowhere and no one ever questions or tries to change anything or go looking for other people, and they're basically all waiting for the inevitable moment when the Unconsecrated break through the fences and kill everyone) and the characters had little in the way of personality or believable motivation.
Also, Mary gets almost everyone around her killed and still manages to make everything all about her.
This book is a textbook case of the formulaic YA novel with an obligatory love triangle that constantly distracts from any real story and sucks all the life out of the characters and the world. I found the writing bland and simple, though with occasional flourishes that promised the potential for something better.
I probably would have enjoyed this more as kid, but it's a very juvenile novel reworking themes and a plot that's been done much better, many times, by everyone from Richard Matheson to Stephen King.
I will not be seeking out Ryan's sequel to this one. I give it two stars because it did have a readable quality to it that kept me going until the end, but unlike other YA novels with a high body count, like The Hunger Games
, The Forest of Hands and Teeth
never really made me care who got ate, I felt no emotional reaction to the casualties, and only annoyance that Mary wasn't one of them.
It's not a terrible book, it's just not at all original nor is the writing very good, so it gets a big "meh" from me.