Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Published: March 2009 by Delacorte Books

My Rating: 3 stars
Tags: YA | Zombies | Suspense | Apocalypse
Includes: Violence, Sensuality, Murder, Zombies!

First Lines: My mother used to tell me about the ocean. She said there was a place where there was nothing but water as far as you could see and that it was always moving, rushing toward you and then away.

Mary lives in a world much different than ours. She is trapped in her village surrounded by a fence, to protect the villagers from the undead - the Unconsecrated, who are what we call "zombies". These flesh-eating creatures live in what they call 'the forest of hands and teeth', which no one is allowed into. After her mother is bitten and and becomes one of the Unconsecrated, Mary is sent to live with the Sisterhood. This is a group of very religious women who reside in the cathedral and protect the village. But, after the fences are breached, and the Unconsecrated swarm into the village, they begin killing off the villagers one by one. Mary and her friends/family are forced to do everything they can to survive, and fight back.

I bought this novel based off of watching this book trailer, which is one of the best I've seen. However, don't let it fool you! Sometimes movie trailers make the actual movie seem a lot better than it really is, am I right? I LOVED the plot of this book, and the summary really grabbed hold of my attention. It reminded me a lot of the movie The Village, which is obviously a village surrounded by a fence to keep out deadly creatures in the forest.

However, no matter how fantastic the plot of a book is, the characters in it play a big role, too. And unfortunately, I didn't favor the dull Mary. I couldn't bring myself to root for her stubborn, rebellious, and selfish character. Even at the end of the book, she still seemed detached - maybe from lack of character development? - and I couldn't believe the fact that two men were in love with her. In fact, I think it's her philosophies that really got under my skin. Throughout the entire book, she continues to talk about her dream of seeing the ocean, over and over and over. By the end of the novel, each time 'her dream of going to the ocean' was mentioned it made me roll my eyes. Mary also put this dream of hers, before her family and friends. It came down to: she had to choose between one or the other. Sure, you should always strive for your dreams. risk it and put your family's lives in danger? No.

Mary also continuously says to herself how she refuses to believe in God anymore, after her mother becomes part of the Unconsecrated. The whole first half of the novel is just setting up the plot, and introducing the Unconsecrated - they don't actually show up/breach the fences until after page 100, which I think was too long. I preferred the second half, which had a change of setting, new characters, lots of actions, and not to mention many detailed and gory zombie attacks. Yeah, now that's what I was waiting for!

From Page 129
Something pulls at my hair and I stumble, fall to one knee. I roll to the side as slick gray arms lunge for me. I'm on my back, Argos barking madly as an Unconsecrated woman falls toward me. I thrash at the grass around me with my hands until I feel the smooth wood of my knife. I swing up and around and bury the blade in the Unconsecrated woman's shoulder.

Some of the scenes involving the Unconsecrated zombies put me on the edge of my seat. During one night while I was reading in bed, I ended up not putting the book down until an hour and a half after my bedtime (it was a school night)! Plus, all of my fingernails on one hand were completely chewed off, ha. The author wrote about the Unconsecrated in very descriptive and gruesome ways - she didn't hold back. Unlike some books (cough Twilight) that play up and change around what vampires usually are, Carrie Ryan did not mess with zombies. She kept them as bloody, flesh-hungry, rotting and decaying, slow, moaning undead creatures. And I am so glad.

I had a ton of unanswered questions, even after I read the last page. (Which I hated by the way.) The author seemed lazy in the last chapter, and it ended abruptly, not really explaining anything. The book never said what happened to everyone else, if there was any hope, etc.

Now - on a positive note - I'll try to say a few good things about the book, and the reason I gave it three stars. The author's writing at times was just beautiful, and I could visualize what was going on perfectly. I'm a sucker when it comes to details, and they were not left out in this book. The writing was lyrical at times, and I liked how she wrote.

From Page 102
The air is damp, moldy, and my own breath sounds like a windstorm to my ears. I strain to hear in the darkness beyond my weak candlelight, suddenly terrified that there might be someone or something else down here.

It was very imaginative and creative, and certain parts of the book grabbed my attention, not letting me look away. I have mixed feelings about this book, but I still think I will spend the time to read the sequel, coming out next year.

Book Supplied by: Bought it at Borders! :)


  1. Yeah...I didn't enjoy this one too well. Have you read it?

  2. Actually, I just finished reading this over the weekend and truly loved it! I think you are right when you noted how lyrical and prose-like the writing is, maybe that is what resonated with me, along with the wealth of detail ... which made it seem very real and helped to suspend disbelief per the situation.

    Man, I cannot WAIT to read the sequel haha

  3. I actually felt the same way as you. I HATED the ending and that made me not the book overall. I have a co-worker who I told about the book and she absolutely loved it, it's now her favorite book. I just can't see it.

  4. I feel the same way! I hated this book, after all the buzz about it, I was very disappointed. The characters were awful, but the plot idea was good.
    I totally agree with 3 stars!

  5. I read it just recently. I didn't LOVE it but I didn't hate it either. Although I think I liked it a bit more than you :) Yes Mary did annoy me at parts - I wanted to shake her! I'll be reading the sequel because I'll need to find out some answers.

  6. I loved this book so much! And the series! And I got to interview Carrie! I am obsessed. Awesome review :)

  7. I also had mixed feeling about this book, except that I decided not to purchase the sequel. While I liked the suspense and the love story, but whole "last humans in the world" and "surviving zombie attacks" isn't just for me. I don't like that kind of movie, but heard so many great comments about the book that i gave it a shot anyway. It's a good book, just not for me =)

  8. This book sounds ok, but I want to read it. I've read the first few pages, and Mary has been acting very dull (and your review confirms her dullness). I'll read it later...but this book isn't a priority...

  9. I recently purchased this book after hearing some raving reviews on it. I think one thing that totally grab my attention towards this book is the writing, which most people describe as "lyrical". I love that kind of style so I'm hoping that I'd love it. Thank you so much for your honest take on this book!

  10. Hmm, despite the dull Mary this does seem like it would make a good addition to my Halloween reading list :) Gotta have some zombies!

    Great review!

  11. I really liked this book and the main reason why is the writing. It was very poetic and lyrical (as Shy said). But, in The Dead Tossed Waves, the writing is very different which disappointed me. The books are pretty good though.

  12. I tried reading this a few times but kept getting bored. Maybe I will try again!

  13. why does everyone seem to like Zombie story?
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