Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
by Carrie Ryan
Series: The Forest of Hands and Teeth #1
Publication: July 2009
Category: YA
Genre: Horror, Zombies
Source: Public Library

My Rating:

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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 by so much death?

~My Thoughts~

Being a fan of zombie stories, I surprised myself and many of my fellow zombie fanatics by waiting so long to read this book. I have heard so many great things about it over the years and eventually even purchased a Kindle copy, but never got around to reading it–until I saw a copy at my local library a few weeks ago. I took that as a sign and snatched it up immediately.

After finishing it, I feel torn. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I didn’t love it like I’d hoped. I normally read a book this size in a day, two at most. This one took me about 10 days. I was easily distracted. A few pages in I realized it closely resembles M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. I wasn’t a fan of that movie, but with actual zombies in the forest (I say that like they’re real. Ha!) I was intrigued. I liked the book enough to finish it, regardless of the length of time it took me. There was something about it – something I still can’t put my finger on – that kept me interested and wouldn’t let me give up.

The story is hopeless and hopeful all at the same time. Mary is the main character and her will never falters when it comes to fulfilling her dreams, no matter the cost. All she’s ever known is her village, her people, and the forest of hands and teeth that surrounds them. She has always known that the Guardians will protect the fence and the Sisterhood will keep their lives in order. Yet she longs to know if the stories her mother raised her on, about the vastness of the ocean and building so tall they reach the sky, are true. Is there more to the world that just the people inside her village? Did the Return destroy the rest of the world or are there other villages out there somewhere?

There is a bit of romance intertwined in the story, but it’s a strange sort of romance. I wasn’t rooting for love in this story, which is unlike me. Not that I believe that love is a must-have element in the books I read, but if there is romance I expect more of it. I demand that it makes me feel something, and I really didn’t care about it here. Sadly, I didn’t ever connect with any of the characters.

I will say that the last 60 or 70 pages were my favorite. The pace was fast, the danger was imminent, and the action was satisfying. Those pages convinced me to give the book 3 stars instead of 2.5. I may even read the next book. Let me clarify–it’s not a cliffhanger ending. I could easily walk away from the series and never look back. Maybe I will. I already know from skimming some reviews that the second book does not follow Mary any further–which actually piques my interest. I’m curious about what the next book offers.

Overall I can say The Forest of Hands and Teeth is an OK zombie story. Some people love it, some hate it. I’m wandering around somewhere close to the middle.

~About the Author~

Carrie Ryan is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Forest of Hands and Teeth series and Infinity Ring: Divide and Conquer. Currently she’s working on a four book middle grade fantasy adventure series co-written with her husband, John Parke Davis, the first book of which, The Map to Everywhere, will be out November 4, 2014. Her next YA is a romantic thriller titled Daughter of Deep Silence which will be out summer 2015.

A former litigator, Carrie now writes full time and lives with her husband, two ornery cats and one gullible dog in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can find her online at by clicking on the links below.

Carrie’s Website |Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Wife, homeschooling mom, YA author of paranormal, dark fantasy, and horror, huge fan of the Oxford comma, book blogger, crafter, baker of sweet things, lover of the culinary arts, self-appointed zombie slayer.