Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan


Favorite Line: “The Siren” (p.6)

Mary is a young woman living a simple life.  She dreams about marrying the man that she loves, having a family, and seeing the ocean.   Her mother tells her wonderful stories, about how there were places filled with moving water that had salt in it as far as the eye could see.  The reason Mary has never seen the ocean is for the fact that she is surrounded by a forest. 

She lives in a commune that is run by a group of elderly ladies called “The Sisterhood”.  They always know what is best, they believe in God, and God tells them how to help the people that live in their community.  This “community” is guarded and protected by a fence. It’s purpose is to segregate the wilderness from the village, but there is a reason.  The people call the woods “The Forest of Hands and Teeth”.  This fence is their salvation and it keeps the “Unconsecrated”, also know as zombies, from entering in and attacking them.  If a human is bitten by an “Unconsecrated” they will turn into one. 

Mary’s father went out to the forest and never came back, but her mother keeps hoping that he will show up.  Mary’s mother feels like she needs to go near the fence to see if she can get a glimpse of her husband, and she seems to always go dangerously close.  Mary and her brother, Jed, take turns taking her to the fence and to make sure that she’s okay.  One day Mary’s mom wants to go by the fence, and Mary gets distracted and doesn’t attend to her mother immediately.  Mary hears the siren, and that’s when everything goes down hill.   

This is a wonderful story.  It was very intense and such a page-turner.  I enjoyed reading and going through Mary’s bleak world, as horrible as that sounds.  Ryan’s work is a breath of fresh air in the young adult realm, and the book could have very well been put into the general literature area, I think.

I wish I could have given this an A, but it fell short in some areas.  One was the fact that I could sympathize with Mary but could not relate to her. Some of her actions were a little too frustrating and foolish.  Though I like Mary’s adventurous spirit, I also understand my consequences when doing something audacious.  Mary’s attitude in acting this way can come across as being selfish, but I knew what her goals were and could give her a little slack.

This story is not a warm, feeling, experiencing, tender type of book and I understood that when I started reading it, but when the novel ended I did not feel the accomplishment that I always feel with “A” books. It’s possible that this book is just so dark and gloomy that I’m not used to reading stories like that, or that I just felt there were just too many questions left unanswered.  The book does have an ending, but it didn’t feel complete.  I have read that there is a sequel coming out, but may or may not deal with Mary.

Either way, the book is very much worth the read and I did take pleasure in reading about Mary’s zombie filled world, though the story isn’t just about zombies.  It does try to convey essences of faith, the choices we make, and what humanity does to try and survive.  I cannot wait to read Ryan’s next book and hope to find some of the answers that she left us hanging on in this one.


For: People who think Roman numerals are good for more than just the Superbowl

Alice Evans




Author’s Web Site                     Purchase


~ by thebizarrelibrary on April 22, 2009.

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