Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 10, 2009
Series: Forest of Hands and Teeth #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Borrowed
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?
I liked the whole zombie plot thing.  I found Mary to be a little more whiny and selfish than what I favor in a protag.  She also had the whole 'I get dizzy and nearly faint sometimes when something happens that I don't like' thing going on, and I just kept picturing Jane Austen making fun of her.  Perhaps Jane and I shouldn't judge though, because Mary's life is pretty sucky.  And Mary did start to get better for me later into the story, as she began to take a little more initiative in situations which demanded it of her.

It took me a little bit to get used to the style of the narration.  I expect first person narratives to be very personal and emotional, especially when they're in the present tense.  This one felt detached to me with its short sentences and matter-of-fact way of speaking.  It annoyed me for a little while in the beginning, but as the book progressed I felt that it was right, because Mary seems to be a pretty detached person as a result of the world in which she lives.  I think that if she were sitting here telling me her story, she would be doing it just like that - concise and matter-of-fact, doing her best to keep her emotions in check and to repress her grief the best that she could.  Once that was established for me, it was also a little easier to deal with her selfish tendencies.  And even though she was a bit detached, the writing still had me feeling the frustrations of Mary's situation, so that was a good thing.

The plot moves along pretty well even though it is not nonstop action.  There is action, of course!  You can't have zombies after you without there being some face biting or decapitation.  But there's also a good bit of other conflict going on, such as inner struggles with guilt, faith, etc.  The focus is, of course, on survival, but on many different levels:  living with life choices (or the lack of them), surviving the moment, coming up with some way to survive long-term, the survival of hope and of faith.  So it is not just about escaping the zombies.

The end result is that I liked it and found it to be an entertaining read.  It definitely interested me enough to keep reading, and I hear the second book is better than the first, so I will be reading that one as well.


  1. Yes, I know what you mean. I became very frustrated with the narrator. I wanted to strangle her for some of her decisions! But I think that's part of what made her so compelling because she could elicit that kind of an emotional reaction.
    I haven't read the second one either, but I'd like to!

  2. Oh, I have to say that I really, really liked THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. But. I absolutely *loved* THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES. As fantastic of a book as TFOHAT is, TDTW really is better!


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