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Review – The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
by Carrie Ryan
308 pages
Published March 10, 2009
Fiction, urban fantasy, YA

The Forest of Hands and Teeth  by Carrie Ryan has zombies.



What more do you want me to say? How does “This book has zombies” not make you want to go out and read it right away? Okay, how about this:

This book has zombies that aren’t charicatures of zombies, they’re zombies that you can take seriously and therefore you can take this book seriously.

Mary lives in a village surrounded by a fence to keep out the Unconsecrated. Her dad has been missing for months, and Mary’s mom goes to the fence every day to look for her husband, holding out hope that he’s been able to remain human. After Mary’s mom gets infected and is put on the other side of the fence, Mary is sent to live with the Sisters, a religious order that protects and controls the village.

After a breach in the fence, the village is attacked by the Unconsecrated, who feed on the flesh of the living. Mary takes off with her brother, his wife, an orphan boy, and three friends she’s had since childhood, Travis and Cassandra (who are betrothed), and Harry, to whom Mary is betrothed. They venture through a gate that will take them on a path that they hope will lead to safety and a reason to live, other than just trying to survive.

The author uses one-liners that just punch you in the gut. Take this one, for example, from page 15:

In the moment between my mother’s death and her Return, I stop believing in God.

(the mom’s Return refers to when she becomes a zombie, or Unconsecrated)

The zombies are incidental to a story that digs deep into what life is about, the significance of love, and the importance of dreams.

“It’s not about surviving. It should be about love. When you know love…that’s what makes this life worth it. When you live with it every day. Wake up with it, hold on to it during the thunder and after a nightmare. When love is your refuge from the death that surrounds us all and when it fills you so tight that you can’t express it.” –page 155

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? What if we are the only ones left — who will know our stories then? And what will happen to everyone else’s stories? Who will remember those? –page 207

This book was going along fantastically until a couple of things brought it down a few notches for me. It was still a great read and a great story that I highly recommend. As I was going through my passages I’d marked, I was getting sucked back into the story. If that’s not a good book, I don’t know what is.

Rating: 89 out of 100

Carrie Ryan’s website

Other reviews:

books i done read (she didn’t like it as much as me, but she has a funny paragraph about Mad Libs)

Devourer of Books (she didn’t like it as much as me either)

The Sleepy Reader (ditto on the not liking it as much as me)

Presenting Lenore (we’re more in line on our thoughts)

The Book Zombie (she liked it and has a much more detailed review)

Beth Fish Reads (she liked it and listed to the audio)

YAnnabe (she liked it!)

Book source: I checked this book out from the library.

| Tags: , , , , 23 comments »

23 Responses to “Review – The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan”

  1. charley

    I wasn’t totally into this book, and I didn’t finish it, but I thought the atmosphere was wonderfully gloomy.


  2. Jen - Devourer of Books

    I’m glad you linked to some other people who didn’t like it all that well either, because I was starting to think that I’m the only one! I do agree with you that Carrie Ryan has gorgeous writing. I just wish I felt more for Mary. I think I’m going to skip the rest of this series, but then try anything else that Ryan writes.


  3. nikki

    Zombies! I can’t wait to read it.


  4. Lenore

    Ahh—another book we can agree on 🙂


  5. Kathy

    I really want to read this one since the author is originally from the area we live in. I’ve heard the book launch for her second book will be here and I don’t want to miss it!


  6. Michelle

    What brought it down a few notches?

    I found this book to be quite enjoyable especially since I’m not at all into the whole zombie thing. I didn’t know what to expect when I started to read it but quickly found it was deeper than what I was anticipating it would be.


  7. Robin of My Two Blessings

    Your review sold me. Other reviews had me iffy, but your review put me over the edge. Very good. Off to put it on my amazon wish list.


  8. Nely

    I read this some time last month and loved it.
    Lovely review.



  9. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    This sounds like a great book to read. I love reading about zombies and other horror/supernatural beings.


  10. Bookfool, aka Nancy

    Zombies!!! I didn’t even realize that. I bought the book totally on impulse and hope to read it, soon. So many books . . . you know how that ends. Don’t want to be trite and repeat it.


  11. Jeanne

    Zombies I can take seriously? Hmm, haven’t seen that since Dr. No!


  12. Lisa

    I think I am **gasp** the only person in the blogosphere that has yet to read a zombie book. I just don’t get it.


  13. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    I don’t think I liked it as much as you….strong start and weak finish. I did cry over the love story though.


  14. Shona

    I actually got pulled in to the story from page 1. This is one of the very few zombie books I read and actually liked .I also liked the Book Video which is kinda spooky .Here’s my review of the book.


  15. Melissa- Shhh I'm Reading

    I listened to the audio on this one too, based on Beth’s recommendation. I didn’t like it quite as much as either of you did, but for a book completely different than what I usually read it wasn’t bad.


  16. SuziQoregon

    I liked it well enough, but didn’t love it. For me it got repetitive.


  17. Amy

    Sounds interesting but I don’t know if I can take another zombie book…


  18. Beth F

    I loved it — because I loved the issues it brought up. The love story was not it for me — the larger questions grabbed. But it was an awesome audio production and I know that that affected by enjoyment.


  19. Mel

    You mentioned issues that you didn’t like..was it the ending? I loved the book..and then at the end I was like..what happened?!


  20. Andi

    Can’t wait to get my hands on this one! Sounds so amazing, and I love the passages you provided.


  21. Kailana

    I loved this book! It will be on my best of list for the end of the year… 🙂


  22. zibilee

    I’ve been really curious about this book and have seen it making the rounds on the blogs. It looks interesting and who doesn’t love a good zombie story? Thanks for the great review, I will be adding this to my wish list.


  23. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan « Alison McCarty

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