Tuesday, September 13, 2016
The Dead and Empty World Part 1
I haven't read any of Carrie Ryan's Forest of Hands and Teeth books for a couple of years. They faded in my mind. I knew I enjoyed them, but I couldn't remember specifics. I was reminded with this wonderful compilation of stories from the same world. Carrie Ryan is an amazing writer that doesn't dumb down or censor her stories for her young adult audience. In a post-apocalyptic situation, teens have just as many hard decisions, traumatic experiences, and interactions with the undead as adults do. Since I have a lot to say about all the stories, I'm splitting them up into different posts so it isn't insanely long.
* Flotsam and Jetsam
This story examines what it's like to be trapped on a raft with someone you don't particularly like who has been bitten by a zombie. Jeremy pretends he hasn't been bitten and tries to act as normal as possible. Everyone knows, including our main character, that when someone is bitten they will turn and they will have to be killed. Both characters are in denial about the situation because it's will always be hard to kill someone even if they are a zombie that will eat your brains. I loved what happened in the end because it is so human yet unexpected. With shows like The Walking Dead, everyone in the zombie apocalypse is expected to kill their zombified loved ones or acquaintances with no emotional reaction.
The main character resents Jeremy because they were never friends and none of his actual friends made it out alive. He asks Jeremy uncomfortable questions and can be cruel. They find comfort in each other because they are all that remain of their lives. It's the same reason why they keep their raft close to the ship they left even though all that remains on it are the living dead; it's the only familiar thing on a vast ocean in a world that is unrecognizable.
* Scenic Route
Margie and Sally guard a cabin that they've made safe together and spend their days planning road trips to places they will never go using well worn guidebooks. Margie, as the older sister, is very protective of Sally and sometimes underestimates her ability to handle the reality of living in a post-apocalyptic situation. They love each other dearly and would do anything for each other. It's just the two of them against the whole world. This story examines humans as monsters instead of zombies. Bandits in the area take what they want including people, treating them as possessions. Then a young man named Calvin arrives and wins over their trust over some weeks. This story shows how people can be monstrous, but have different reasons, casting people in shades of grey rather than black and white. I loved the ending because hope and humanity are still alive. It's easy to lose humanity in a setting like this, fighting for your survival against inhuman and human monsters alike.