Scariest Book Nominations

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

What do you dare to read?  If you are a teen, the Central Rappahannock Regional Library system wants to know.  Teen Read Week is coming and in support of this year’s theme, “It Came from the Library!,” we’re asking teens to nominate the scariest book ever written on our Teens@CRRL Facebook page or our Goodreads page.  In the next few days, we’ll narrow the list down to five titles and starting October 14th teens can visit our website and vote for the scariest book.  Unfortunately, I’m too old to participate, but if I could here are the titles I would choose.  

Zombies are in!  In “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan, a fence surrounds the village keeping everyone safe from the “unconsecrated” outside.  Inside the walls, the Guardians and the sisterhood offer protection while discouraging the curiosity and questions they believe condemned their world to the infection that results in “The Return.”  When Mary’s mother falls victim, her brother throws her out of the house leaving Mary no option but to join the sisterhood.  When an outsider, a girl named Gabrielle, makes her way to the village, Mary is horrified when the sisters send her out into the forest intending for her to be bitten. Again, Mary is overwhelmed by her lack of choice.  But, when Gabrielle, now a super-strong zombie, charges the fence and the town is overrun, Mary finally takes action.  Faced with two choices, stay and die, or flee, Mary leads a small group of refugees on a daring escape via paths of “protective” fencing through a forest that is literally alive with grabbing hands and gnawing teeth.   
I keep telling my husband that if ever there’s an apocalypse he need not worry because I know how to survive, and “Ashes” by Ilsa J. Bick is one of the titles that I consider “training.”  Alex flees to the wild in an attempt to escape her terminal cancer diagnosis and finally deal with her parents deaths.  An encounter with a young girl named Ellie and her grandfather is interrupted by the excruciating physical pain and red and white glare of an electromagnetic pulse that leaves the grandfather dead. Briefly the book reads as a wilderness survival tale until Alex and Ellie happen upon a young couple sitting around a campfire not eating s’mores, but instead a more grisly snack.  That’s their first clue that though the two girls and a few others have survived, most of the young people have turned into zombies.  Somehow they have to get through a world turned upside down and figure out how to survive.  

What if Jack the Ripper came back with a vengeance?  “The Name of the Star” by Maureen Johnson explores that terrifying thought.  When American Rory Deveaux arrives in London, she doesn’t realize that she has the ability to see ghosts.  As a matter of fact, it’s not until the second time that she sees the bald man in the too large suit that she realizes no one else does.  The problem is that she’s now caught the attention of one of the world’s most notorious murderers--not a situation anyone wants to be in, especially when he knows where you live.  

Originally published in the 10/8/12 Free Lance-Star newspaper.