Book #8: Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.
I don't remember a book ever making me slam it shut in frustration before, let alone multiple times. This book had such potential. It was set in an amazing world. It had a lot of action. It was about the world having ended and only a few people left (my very most favorite theme). But the characters were so so so painfully stupid, I slammed my iPad cover closed as hard as I could multiple times over it.
Forest of Hands and Teeth (which, by the way, best title ever or best title ever?) was set many many generations after the zombie apocalypse. All the tech was gone. Almost no one remembered a world other than the small fenced-in village they lived in. There were no books left other than a couple Bibles (and even those were falling apart). Almost no one believed the ocean was a real thing.
Zombies (called Returned or the unconsecrated in the book) were everywhere. They were kept out of the village only by a series of fences. Until the fences failed. Sounds interesting thus far? It was; up until this point I was 100% on board.
The author described the book as a "paranormal romance", which made me wary. How many times have I said a romance subplotline makes a book worse? In this case it helped ruin the book.
Because so few people were left, everyone had to be married (and have children), and there were few choices on who to marry. In this group of people who had to marry, there were two boys (brothers) and two girls (best friends). One boy loved one girl and the other boy loved the other girl. Handy, no? Though a series of not-very-believable events, they got paired up opposite. Now, instead of sitting down and talking and working this out (trading partners before they were married would have been perfectly fine within the society's rules), they spent the ENTIRE BOOK angsting about this. About a problem they could have settled in moments by talking.
That was a theme of the book: a problem lasting way too long because the characters didn't simply talk to each other.
The main character knew "XIV" meant a path to a new safe place, but she had never been taught roman numerals, so when she encountered paths marked with Xs, Is, and Vs, she knew there was some kind of system to the marking, but she didn't know it. Both of the boys had been taught roman numerals. If she had just said "Hey guys, I know X-I-V is our way to safety, and I see these markings here, but I don't know how to translate them. Anyone have any ideas? Maybe we could work on this together?" the book would have been shorter by half.
The main character was the most annoying character I've read about in years. The group of four were surrounded by the Returned, fighting for their lives to try to get out of the circle, and she stopped fighting to daydream about the ocean.
The book had such potential, but these idiot characters rarely treated imminent death as anything more than a mild annoyance because it interrupted their angsting about not being with the person they loved (nevermind they thought they were the last four people on earth so why not just trade! ARG!).
I just don't get it. Or maybe I do and it makes me sad. This book has been translated into 18 languages. It's been fast-tracked to be made into a movie this year. I suppose it plays to the Twilight set. The horrible "romance" of it.
Speaking of "romance", when the main character girl and the boy she loves get cut off from the others and it appears they'll never be able to get back together again? She doesn't so much as kiss him. They're teenagers. She describes her body as being "on fire" when she's next to him. But when she finally gets what she wants and is alone with the brother she wanted, all she does is hide off alone and angst. (Which is another thing that annoyed the hell out of me: Even when the main character got exactly what she wanted, she was never happy and just bitched and angsted.)
I finished the book, and while annoyingly I'm curious as to where the plot would go from here, I'm not buying the other two books in the series.