The Forest of Hands and Teeth by: Carrie Ryan

Book: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Genre: Young Adult/Post Apocalyptic/Zombies!!


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 about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, 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 in so much death?

Why I read this book:

So for NaNoWriMo this past year we had a costume party kick off.  It was made of awesome and win.  I decided I was going to go as a Zombie Librarian killed by Twilight.  First off you must know I am NOT a zombie person, or at least I wasn’t.  However, there is something about getting dressed in a costume and doing stage makeup that makes me giddily excitable.  This was one of those instances.  From that moment on I have had a fascination with Zombies.   So I decided rather than avoid the genre I was going to dive into it. This was one of those books I was going to start with. I had started it a while back and for some reason was distracted and didn’t finish it.  Recently I had gone on a road trip with my hubby and after finishing a book and having just my e-reader with me I decided to finish this one too (the beauty of e-readers!).  What I am trying to say is it has been a long path to get me to a point of where I would read zombie novels.  However, I’m here now and it was totally worth it.


This book has a super strong voice.  And to be perfectly honest this can be both a blessing and a curse.  Either the reader likes the voice or they don’t.  Luckily I fell in the like field right away.

I used to avoid all first person narrative books.  But then I started reading YA and came to accept then.  Then it was first person present tense that I avoided, but now that I have scene it done well and under what circumstances it works I can support it.  This was one of those books that used first person present tense well.  Really well.  Everything felt very immediate and dragged me from one scene into the next until it was 3 in the morning and I’m rubbing my eyes wondering what happened.  The chapters ended on enough of a cliff hanger that I HAD to keep going!

The concept was well thought out, for me anyways.  Now there are some questions I have, but I’ll save those to the end.  The basic premise is thought that there are zombies out there, and we’re in a village completely isolated surrounded by wire fence and you can only assume that besides the zombies we’re the last ones left.  So it’s about survival.  The town Mary is from is very strongly religious, and I can see how in dark times like that, that would be how the world would bend in some cases.  Not being highly religious myself though, made it easy for me to relate to Mary and her feeling that their was more out there than what was being presented.  Especially with such strong stories growing up about the ocean.

As this was all in first person present tense it was emotionally wrought with Mary’s predicaments.  I would like to do a tally of how many times she broke down and cried.  Or slipped and fell and was clawing her way away.  Because after awhile those scenes felt repetitive and yes the desperation did add tension, but it also kind of became a wee annoying after awhile too because I felt frustrated as the reader that our heroin was so helpless.  I wanted her to be more, be stronger, stand on her own and succeed on her own.  I wanted her to take her journey and lead off on her own, rather than this ever-pinning hope for the ocean but this inability to just go and do it.  She was being held back by her inability to let the ones she loved go and just chase her dream.  And therefore she felt weaker as a heroin, because instead of making her own decisions, her decisions her being made for her by circumstances and lack of choices.

It was only at the end when she lost everything, did she dare to strike out on her own.  We have the conflict resolution between Mary and her best friend Cass by that time.  Mary had already chosen Travis over Harry, so Harry was free to support Cass.  And Cass had made it clear that she would choose protecting Jacob and finding her own family before she would follow Mary’s dreams.  And then that left Mary with her last tie, Jeb, her brother.  Who had lost his wife and was pretty much disposable near the end of the book.  I just wish Mary would have been a strong enough heroin to make the choice of finding the Ocean without having the choices made for her.  I know she always wanted to find it, but she was unable to let go of her previous life to look for it and get it until she pretty much had nothing left to hold her back.  That was my main area of frustration with this book.

I also have some world building concerns. The paths and the chained off areas where developed.  Someone must have known about all the paths and what they meant.  Records must have been kept somewhere.   How could a summer market or something close to that have not survived?  How long has it been after the Return that they have abandoned the other fenced off areas and turned it into each town for itself, rather than remain connected and know that they are not all that is out there and that there is hope?

AND AND!!! Why are there still more unconsecrated.  No seriously.  If they are slow and all that they have are numbers, but an arrow to the head, decapitation or burning will end them, why do they not have more hunters?  Groups of people whose sole job is to fell the undead outside the fence.  I mean seriously build little tree houses up top inside the walls right on the edge of the fence, and just bury your arrows in until there are no more zombies.  How can they not have just killed them all by now?  If enough time has gone by that they have managed to isolate themselves completely from all hope and call themselves the last survivors even though there are trails that led somewhere at one time that someone knew about and the knowledge must have been preserved somewhere, then how could enough time not have passed for humanity to have risen above and felled all of the zombies?  I’m just saying.

Final Thoughts:

Even with these few hesitations regarding the book, I still really enjoyed my read.  I found it a fast paced tension filled emotionally wrought read.  Anyone looking for a good zombie story, this is one that I would highly recommend.  It is entertaining and even though I have questions, those are questions I am more than willing to read the rest of the series for to find the answers too.  I think of my questions more as an incitement to keep reading than a deterrent of the series.

Rating: 7/10



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