Sunday, November 7, 2010

Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delarcorte Press
Pages: 308
Received: borrowed from library
In Mary's world, there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.

The Guardians will protect and serve.

The Unconsecrated will never relent.

And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.

Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?
The beginning of the book explains to us that the society in which Mary lives is just what remains of the human race, or so they are told, while they trudge along through their new lives within the chain link walls of their village. 
Whether the fences were to keep the Unconsecrated out or the living in we no longer know. But the end result was our village, an enclave of hundreds of survivors in the middle of a vast Forest of Unconsecrated.
It's a post-apocalyptic setting in which the fence keeps the Unconsecrated (zombies) at bay. Mary tells a haunting story of watching her mother become infected and choose to tossed into the Forest of Hands and Teeth to be with her husband who is out there somewhere. It is a story of loss, despair and the unknown. 
Through Mary we begin to have hope that there is something more out in the world than just the forest filled with zombies. She has lived with the knowledge that her great-great-great-great grandmother had seen the oceans. She has this yearning to see it for herself and feels that if she can find it she will be free from zombies and life will be better. She is the only one who asks questions about life before the Return. It's almost as if the other villagers just want to forget what it was like before this horrible event came upon them all - like it is easier to forget then to remember their loss. Nothing seems to fulfill Mary's quest for what is out there, except to go and find it for herself. 
Amid the chaos of a breach in the wall, Mary finds herself tossed out into a path that they have always been told no one knows where it leads.  
 No one remembers where the paths go. Some say they are there as escape routes, others say they are there so that we can travel deep into the Forest for wood. We only know that one points to the rising sun and the other to the setting sun. I am sure our ancestors knew where the paths led, but just like everything else about the world before the Return, that knowledge has been lost. 
She is not alone; Harry and Travis (her two love interests), Cass (her best friend), Jed and Beth (her brother and his wife) along with a little boy named Jacob and a dog named Argos. This group travels along the path together using Mary's guidance as she is the only one with a yearning to move forward looking for others like themselves. Anymore info and I feel I will be giving away some spoilers... so you must read the book to find out what else happens.

This story is actually filled with adventure, love, friendship, loss and terror. To see the relationships build and crumble, the love that they all have for one another be tested again and again, and to see the choices they each make along the way when put in situations like holding ones life in their hands. 
And I wonder if there was ever a crueler world than this one that forces us to kill the people we love most.
I cannot even begin to imagine what any of them were feeling. Also, the scenes with the zombies are amazingly well written and had me sitting on the edge of my seat. I was cheering for Mary and her friends, but also wanting to read about how the zombies react to different situations.

To be honest I cried during this one scene I was reading and had to put the book down. My boyfriend kind of teased me about my tears until I explained what was happening right then in the book and then he said it sounded like it would make a good zombie love story movie (good for both guys and girls). I laughed in agreement and immediately looked up to see if the rights had been bought to turn it into a movie. Lo and behold someone has the rights, now to wait and see if it gets turned into a movie. I think it would be an amazingly haunting movie to watch.

I highly recommend this book - I will be going out to purchase a copy to keep and also am looking forward to reading the rest of this series.


  1. Yay! So happy it was a keeper for you :) I really thought that the Dead Tossed Waves was even better!

  2. I am looking forward to The Dead Tossed Waves

  3. Great review! I recently read this book and loved it. I think I know the scene you're talking about where you cried :( If so, I cried, too.
    That was a cute comment from you boyfriend ;) I hope they make a movie for this! But then if it turned out to be bad I wouldn't be so happy. It would definitely be a challenge for any director to capture the emotions the book conveys.
    I can't wait to read The Dead Tossed Waves! :)

  4. Great review, and I really want to read this book. I'd be interested in seeing a film but would prefer to read the book first.

  5. Great review! Like Katie, I thought Dead Tossed Waves was better though! :)


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