Monday, July 20, 2009

Thoughts and Reactions

After reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, I found myself thinking back over some of the thoughts and experiences of the main character Mary. I don't wish to give away the ending or too much of the story, for those who haven't read it. However, I was particularly struck with its portrayal and discussion of religion and God.

Mary's village is basically ruled by the Sisterhood - women who claim to be servants of God and who decide what is best for the village. Throughout the book, scriptures plays an important role and even several prophets from the Bible are mentioned. But, after experiencing some things, Mary loses her belief in God. (As a side note, I thought Ryan's portrayal of Sister Tabitha was particularly good - she was not exactly a villain, but not entirely good either - a very complex and therefore believable character.)

Being a religious person myself, sometimes I attempt to tie parts of books in to my own personal morals. I thought Mary's lack of faith very believable and understandable. But, I found that her atheistic thoughts and the moral nature of other parts of the book, did not blend together. I thought that a resolution of her anger at a nonexistent God was not addressed entirely, especially in light of the ending of the book. I was expecting, not necessarily a return of her belief, but more of a recognition of certain truths.

Anyway, I wondered if this expectation on my part was arising entirely from my own strong beliefs and morals. I know that I have disliked more than one book because of characters choices or beliefs, even if those things are minor (this book for example - I've been revising my opinions of it ever since I wrote the review).

Do you find yourself viewing books through morally-tinted glasses? Do you think this detracts from your enjoyment of certain types of stories (those that grate against your personal beliefs)?


  1. I absolutely do read books through moral/religious-tinted glasses. I think it's impossible not to. Yes, it does detract from a book when the characters do things I find morally repugnant. I try to be open-minded, but some books make that VERY difficult ...

    The religion aspect of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH didn't bother me. I understood why Mary's encounters with the Sisterhood - especially discovering truths they've been hiding - would shake her faith. I wonder if the sequel will address the religion aspect at all?

  2. I also try to remain open-minded and very rarely not finish a book. However, there are some that cross a line for me.

    I agree with you about Mary's loss of faith - it made sense from all she suffered. I hope the sequel will address it, since I feel like she may have changed some of her feelings.

  3. I know I view books from my moral/religious beliefs. I too try to keep an open mind, but somtimes...eh!

    I haven't read The Forest of Hands and Teeth yet, but other books have dealt with this issue. I thought "Ever" by Levine was a good (and different) answer to challenges of faith.

  4. Sharon, I've read Ever, but I don't remember much of the faith elements. Maybe I'll pick it up again. And Forest is an excellent book, I highly recommend it!


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