Friday, 19 August 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
First published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers in 2009 (this edition by Gollancz in 2010)

Book #1 in The Forest of Hands and Teeth series

Description (from Goodreads)
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?

My thoughts
I know this book has been around blogs quite a bit as of late (though it is by no means a recent release), and I will admit to liking the cover and wanting to read it at some point or another. But the main reason I bought this book at the time I did was because of the fact that it was rather cheap by Greek standards (though I also found the same cover with the leafy thing on the black background and that cost more than 15euros - not worth it).

So, basically, The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a book about zombies. Not that there is anything wrong with zombies as a theme for a book, just that a) I hadn't realised it before I got round to reading it that the Unconsecrated=Zombies and b) it was the first zombie book I have ever read. And I can say that it was rather interesting!

The main character is called Mary (which I don't think you find often in YA books - everyone seems to have some weird name or, at least, some weird spelling of a name) and she lives in a small village surrounded by a fence, which is there to protect the people who live in the village from the beings that reside in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, the Unconsecrated. The story starts off with an event that plays an important part throughout the book regarding the relationship between Mary and her brother, Jed. After that, Mary is sent to live with the Sisterhood, an sort-of organisation who run the village - meaning they're the authority figure. We also have the Guardians, a group of soldiers who patrol the fence daily to check for any breaks that could lead to the Unconsecrated infiltrating the village.

While she is with the Sisterhood, she gets to see things from a different perspective and realises that things are not how everyone thinks they are: the Sisterhood hides a lot of information from the villagers. Armed with that knowledge and because of a frightful event that occurs in her village, Mary decides to look for the ocean, a place she knows about only from her mother's stories.

As I said before, this is a book with zombies. The Unconsecrated came to be after a major event sometime in the past that infected people with a virus (??) and which caused them to not die, but rather, continue their existence as Unconsecrated. As a result, if you get scratched (or is it bitten?? - it has been ages since I read this book), you become infected and after a few hours/days become Unconsecrated yourself.

The actual story is very good. As I also mentioned before, this is the first book I have ever read that features zombies (and now I won't be avoiding them, as I had been in the past), but I did have a bit of a problem with Mary and some of the other main characters. Mary was a little boring, to put it mildly. She was always going on and on about the ocean (which I suppose is good, to have some hope), but she wanted everyone to follow her blindly on this mission, when even she had no idea where she was going or what she was going to encounter there. Then, there is the matter of the love interest. Early on in the book, we find out that Mary's love-of-her-life is Trevor. And that Trevor might also have feelings for her. But Trevor is going to become bound (engaged) to her best friend Cass. And then, we have Harry, who offers to marry her and also loves her, but Mary doesn't really, because she is full of love for Trevor. Oh my good God... I know it sounds as if it could make a good ''love square'', but I just couldn't see the attraction between Trevor and Mary. On the other hand, there was way more chemistry between Harry and her. Plus, Harry came off as a much nicer to me than Trevor. And to end this paragraph, I must say that Jed was an absolute ass. Well and truly. I can't even begin to think about what was going through his head when he cut off his sister just like that. To be fair, though, he does get a little better later on in the book.

As for the ending, it was actually rather good. I think I liked it more than most of the book, because it was something completely new and different. All in all, though the book was not one of my favourites, I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, The Dead-Tossed Waves, to see what that one is like.

Rating: 6/10

Carrie Ryan was born and raised in Greenville and holds a degree in Law Studies. She used to work as a litigator, but gave it up to work as a full-time writer. The Forest of Hands and Teeth was her first novel, followed by The Dead-Tossed Waves (Book #2) and The Dark and Hollow Places (Book #3).

You can find out more about Carrie Ryan and her books from her official website.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, 1st In A Series Challenge


  1. I love this series. I hope you enjoy the other books. Happy Reading!

    Andrea @ Reading Lark

  2. I wasn't overly buzzed about this one either, although I think my feelings for the book stemmed from 'over hyping'. Hope you like Dead Tossed Waves :)

  3. I've had this on my shelf for ages too but just never seem to get round to it, not sure about the love square it sounds complicated!

  4. I liked this one too. I am reading TDTW right now and it's boring me to tears :( I am halfway so I don't want to quit but I am seriously considering it...


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