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Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1) by Carrie Ryan

in a sentence or so: think "the village" meets "the giver" set in the context of a zombie apocalypse while fighting for survival, forbidden love, and hope for life beyond the fences.

Mary lives in a village surrounded by a fence. on the other side of the fence are countless number of Unconsecrated (zombies). Mary's dad is missing, and has been for a long time. her mother wanders to the fence to look for him - hopeful that he won't be there (meaning he might have escaped turning into an Unconsecrated) and fearful that he won't be there (at least if she saw him as an Unconsecrated, she would know what happened to him). one day, when Mary is washing clothes in the river and is being asked by Harry to the Harvest Celebration (read: pre-courting ritual), the sirens go off. Mary knows in her core that her mother wandered too close to the fence and that she wasn't there to stop her. sure enough, Mary's mother turns into an Unconsecrated and joins the rest of them in the forest.

Mary's brother blames her for their mother's death, and banishes her from the house. she is unspoken for (apparently Harry rescinds his invitation to courtship) and she has no choice but to live with the Sisters in the cathedral - the mysterious secret keepers who clearly keep knowledge from the rest of the village and are the ultimate authority. it is in her short time there that she mourns the loss of her mother, her father, her relationship with her brother, her future as a Sister, and all of the uncertainty of her life. when Travis, Harry's brother, comes into the cathedral with a broken leg and requires prayers , it is Mary who spends her days with him telling him stories of the ocean, of the buildings so high they touch the sky, and other stories her mother shared with her about a world beyond the fence. a forbidden love starts to blossom just as an Outsider shows up to the cathedral - proof of life beyond the village. almost instantly the Outsider is gone, and reappears as an Unconsecrated on the other side of the fence. why did the Sisters keep the Outsider a secret? did they turn the Outsider into an Unconsecrated? what other secrets are the Sisters keeping?

there is a pretty good amount of set up by the author in developing the characters, the village, the Sisters, the Guardians (the protectors of the fences), and the post apocalyptic life. i was surprised when a bulk of the book was spent on their journey OUT of the village and scrambling for life outside the fence.

Mary is selfish. like, really selfish. it was difficult for me to connect with her personally given the choices she makes and the sacrifices she expects from others. however, i loved her voice, her emotions, and the style of the book overall. Ryan evokes a unique feel for this book that i was totally engrossed in. the book was spooky, unsure, violent, tense, romantic, fragile, and dark. if you're in the mood for a zombie apocalypse attempt at survival bursting with broken relationships, this is for you.

fave quotes: "We know nothing beyond our village except the Forest, and nothing beyond the Forest at all." (27)

"Outside, pure white snow covers the trees and fence, blanketing the Unconsecrated. It is a bright clear day, the sun sparkling off the ice crystals. One of those days when you can't understand why there is such beauty in a world that is nothing but ugly. It is almost too much to bear." (69)

fix er up: for me, Mary's selfishness far outweighed her hope and purpose. i kept expecting she would finally snap out of it...nope. she experiences so much loss and she just endures to get what she wants.

title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
author: Carrie Ryan
genre: Horror, Adventure, Dystopian

image from http://www.wordle.net
Wordle: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. so i'm guessing her dad is not unconsecrated and hanging out in some other city that is not zombified?

  2. spoiler alert:
    you never find out. there is some questioning about if mary's mom wandered too close to the fence because she saw her husband and decided to turn to join him...or if maybe she was just too exhausted to continue without knowing and just gave in, hoping she'd find him on the other side somewhere.

  3. I just wanted to let you know You won an award at my blog http://blackandblueink.blogspot.com/2009/11/woot-woot-another-award.html

  4. Great post, Lisa! I thought this novel was in a word--amazing!

    xoxo -- Hilary


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