The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan: Book Review

The Forest of Hands and TeethTHE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan Book Review
Series: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1
Publication Date: March 10th 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: – Acceptable |

Book Summary: 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?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan Book Review Overview:

  • Religious themes made it difficult for me to get through the beginning
  • The love rectangle did little to increase my interest
  • The world-building is admittedly great and the zombie scenes were nail-biting

Initially, I had difficulty getting into THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan, the first in a three-book zombie series, due to the religious themes. I’m not really a fan of books where religious figures hold positions of power. However, looking back, the religious themes were essential to the novel because they provided an interesting contrast to the world that Mary knew with her new perceptions of her surroundings.

THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH has quite the complicated love scenario, but it is one that I could really care less about. The conflict is introduced very early on in the novel and it includes Mary, her best friend Cass, and the brothers Harry and Travis. Usually, I’m all over forbidden romances, but there just wasn’t enough development and chemistry between the characters to get me to care. The characters all have shared pasts, so it makes sense that the development would be on the lesser side, but it makes for an unsatisfying read. I sensed a lack of passion from all the characters. I felt like the romance was forced. Mary had to defy the Sisterhood and her obligations to her society, so it was almost as if she was obligated to fall in love.

The plot was compelling, but to me, it was still missing that special factor that would have made me care more about the characters. I understand why Mary yearns for the ocean, but Ryan is unable to make Mary’s dream my own as well. Similar to the other characters in THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, striving for the ocean is a dream that is unique to Mary and we all struggle to make it a part of our plan. THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH was an entertaining read, but after finishing it, I am not exactly quite compelled to continue on with the series and find out what happens next.

The highlight of this book was the world-building and nail-biting scenes that Carrie Ryan has written. For all of Mary’s life, she had lived in an enclosed community in the middle of the forest surrounded by wire fencing. Her community has lived in isolation for as long as they can remember, but they do not know why or how. They are not in contact with any other people, for they believe that they are the last people on earth. Carrie Ryan stirs up some interesting thoughts about the world that Mary lives in, and this is mostly what motivated me to continue on reading.

Furthermore, the book really started to pick up for me with the introduction of the Unconsecrated.THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH was moving on a slow pace, up until all hell breaks loose in Mary’s village. Ryan’s descriptions of the attack are fast-paced and suspenseful and will keep you at the edge of your seat.

THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is a decent read. It will definitely have you at the edge of your seat at times, but for the most part, the uncompelling characters and love interests hamper the novel from being an excellent read. I can see my self reading the rest of the series, but I am not going to rush out to do so.


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About the Author

Carrie RyanCarrie Ryan was born and raised in Greenville, SC and is a graduate of Williams College and Duke University School of Law. A former litigator, she now pursues her true passion and writes full time. Although Ryan’s 2009 novel, THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, is set in a world roamed by the living dead, before meeting her fiance JP she was actually a self-proclaimed “scaredy-cat” who avoided horror movies. JP was the one who convinced her to go to her first zombie movie and opened a whole new world up to her, which is why she dedicated her first book to him.

Find the Author

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