I don't do Zombies, really don't do them. They frighten me, that whole eating brains thing, blughhhhh. I couldn't even sit through Shaun Of The Dead for crying out loud.
So I thought that if was going to go Zombie, it was probably best to go the Young Adult route - and boy was that the right decision. I'd read some of the reviews but still didn't really know what to expect.
Mary lives in a village in the forest, it's a forest surrounded by fences - you don't go too near to the fences, because the Unconsecrated are always there. Pulling at the fences, trying to get to you, to bite, to spread the infection.
Mary is too young to remember life before the Return. She only knows the stories told to her by her mother - that were passed down through the family. She's never seen the ocean, but the stories of it are what drives her to believe in a world beyond the forest and the fences. A life without the Sisterhood, who govern the village. Left to their care after her Mother joins their Father in the forest - abandoned by her brother, and by the one person she loves - Travis, who's bethrothed to her best friend.
But Mary soon realises that the Sisterhood knows much more, that there is life beyond the fences, which Mary has to face when the fences fail and it becomes clear that the only way to survive is to go to the paths that lead out into the forest.
I will admit that the first third of this book dragged for me. Until the breach in the fences it was slow going, but it did set up the rest of the book. I thought Mary was rather selfish at times, but in the end I understood that the only way she clung to life was to believe that there had to be more than the fences, that the Ocean had to be real. That the stories her Mother had told her weren't lies. How Travis tried to protect her, to ensure that she surived.
Why the 4 stars if I'm not a Zombie fan? There was just something about this book. A terrible sadness, of people clinging together - the feeling that love wasn't enough to protect them. That in end you had to kill those you loved. So much sacrifice.
So the 4 stars are for Mary and Travis - for realising too late that love was enough.
Did I cry? Of course I did. Will I read the next one? Of course I will.