The Forest Of Hands And Teeth – Carrie Ryan
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, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
Now, 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?
Review: I read this book mostly because of the title. That’s a phenomenal title. Also, other reviewers have compared this novel to the movie The Village, which I was obsessed with in my teens. Also, there are zombies in this book. Sometimes I just want to read about zombies.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth is narrated by Mary, a teen girl who lives in a village surrounded by fences. Her parents are “Unconsecrated” zombies who live on the other side of the fence. Mary is expected to get married, have kids, and live a happy life in the village, but she can’t help wondering what lies beyond the fences. When zombies breach the walls, Mary seizes her chance to escape. She wants to see the world, but she’ll have to outrun the zombie horde first.
“We forget that the rest of life can be just as dangerous. I think about how fragile we are here—like fish in a glass bowl with the darkness pressing in on every side.” – The Forest of Hands and Teeth
If you like action, then you need to get yourself a copy of this book. The action starts early and rarely lets up. There’s a sense of danger throughout the entire story. None of the characters are safe. Some of your favorites will die. There are a few moments when Mary and her friends are surrounded by zombies, and I was sure that none of them were going to make it. The plot is definitely heart-pounding. I kept turning pages because I needed to know what happened next.
There’s a scene with a zombie baby that I found really creepy. Zombie babies are messed up. You don’t want to kill (re-kill?) a baby, but what are you supposed to do with it?
“Her skin is ashen and her mouth open in a perpetual yet silent scream. She isn't old enough to roll over, to sit up, to climb. So she lies there kicking her fat legs against the footboard of the crib, eternally calling for her mother. For food. For flesh.” – The Forest of Hands and Teeth
The threats don’t only come from outside the village. The mysterious Sisterhood guards the secrets of the world, and they don’t like Mary snooping around their cathedral. The Sisters are hiding something important. Mary wants to know why they’re keeping secrets. There’s so much in this story that could go terribly wrong for the characters. The tension is great.
“Who are we if not the stories we pass down? What happens when there's no one left to tell those stories? To hear them? Who will ever know that I existed?” - The Forest of Hands and Teeth
I like that the author talks about the difference between being happy and being fulfilled. Mary would be happy if she married one of the boys from her love triangle, but she wouldn’t be fulfilled. She doesn’t think she can live a full life without knowing what’s beyond the village. She’s curious about the outside world. She can stay in her village and be happy, or she can leave and be fulfilled.
Other than the plot and themes, I found this book to be pretty average. I sometimes had difficulty picturing the setting. The writing is good but not great. The main characters are likeable but not complex. Most of the book consists of the characters running from zombies. I would consider this a thriller novel, so aside from the plot, there’s not a whole lot going on.
If you’re looking for a fun zombie thriller that will let you escape from reality for a few hours, then this is the perfect book for you. If you’re looking for thought-provoking literature, then you should probably look elsewhere.
TL;DR: Fun, action-packed plot, but I probably won’t continue with the series.