Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte
Genre: Paranormal/Dystopian (YA)
Pages: 308
Series: Forest of Hands and Teeth #1
Source: Library
Goodreads Description:
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 Review:
I'm probably going to drive you all crazy with how much I blather on and on about this book. I'm sorry you guys, but when I really like a book, I seriously can't shut up about it. There was SO much awesomeness in The Forests of Hands and Teeth! I so totally loved it!! It was dark, eerie, terrifying, heartbreaking, and just plain fabulous. First of all...just start with the title.The Forest of Hands and Teeth. How great is it? SO great. It just conjures up this image of a desolate woods, full of dead bodies, fog, and danger. I thought the first cover of the book showed the mood much better than the second, though the second is pretty good too. The first just has more of a downtrodden and somber air, which is very present throughout the book. The tone is just so woebegone and somber, with just a hint of hope and intrigue...I enjoyed it from the minute I picked it up until I finished the last page.

"Sometimes I wonder what is the point of existing on the edge of the world like this? I wonder if it isn't easier to just let go, if it is simply easier, more peaceful, to become unconsecrated."

 I just love the tension that occurs between the Sisters and Mary. The brainwashing that the sisters have done to the town is seriously impressive. They have been blindly following Sister Tabitha's every word, while she has personal agendas, and secrets that keep the truth about the world from the common people. The sisterhood has kept the knowledge that there are other villages, other people who are alive from the rest of the town so that they can remain in control of the town and it's people. When the people think that they are the last ones on earth, and are being rewarded because of their faith in God, they have no reason to question the hardness of their lives, the forced marriages, the guardians, the unconsecrated...The sisters, especially Sister Tabitha, will stop at nothing to keep the fragile stability that they have created and to keep their positions of power. The control that she possesses over the townspeople is frightening. When Gabrielle, an outsider, threatens the life they have built, they keep her away from the rest of the townspeople, and eventually find a way to silence her so that she cannot "disturb" the peaceful state of the village. Ironic isn't it then, that by trying to keep the outsider from causing a stir, they eventually lead to the downfall of the entire village?

"Mary, you are inquisitive, and that can be a dangerous trait."

And on a completely different tangent, forget love triangle...there is a freaking love square in this book. Involving two brothers no less! It was actually pretty interesting...and exasperating. Mary gets asked to the Harvest celebration by Harry when she has a crush on his younger brother Travis. But Travis asked Cassandra, Mary's best friend to the Harvest. Oh...and the Harvest  is basically what amounts to announcing your engagement in this world...So then certain things happen and Harry doesn't take Mary to the Harvest so she has to go join the Sisterhood, which is basically a bunch of nuns, where she has to take care of Travis after he has a horrible injury. Travis and Mary fall in love, while Cass falls in love with Harry because they spend so much time together worrying about Travis, so Cass breaks off her engagement to Travis but then Harry, who has been in love with Mary since they were eight, asks Mary to marry him...and this is all in about 4 chapters people. The relationship drama knows no end! It's angsty and stressful, and you kind of just want to slap everyone so they will stop being with who they think is right and be with who they love. Regardless, it was this love and confusion that drove a major part of the plot. The relationship dynamics were mixed in with surviving, with finding happiness, and it really made the story come alive.

"This life, 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 everyday. 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."

At first, Mary's character seems kind of one tracked, a little repetitive, and way bleak. However, the more I got into the story, the more I loved the way her character was. Mary can't seem to break out of her one track mind about the ocean and Travis because they are her only hope. In a world where you are only expected to be born, have babies, and hopefully die without being unconsecrated, Mary's outlook is bleak and it is reflected in her character. I feel like this is understandable due to the fact that BOTH her parents are now unconsecrated shamblers. Not only are they "dead" but you have to look at their decomposing bodies as they try to get into the fence and eat you. Not exactly stuff that makes your life full of rainbows and unicorns. Anyway, Mary's character is understandable. She has been so beaten down by the lifestyle of her village, the loss of her parents, and her lack of hope, that all of the life seems to be sucked out of her. Her lack of a personality is more of a reflection of her circumstances rather than a character flaw, and I really liked it. I also loved how you simultaneously hated and loved all of the other characters. Jed makes you hate him when he turns Mary away in the beginning , but you can't help but feel his pain and heartbreak later in the book. Sister Tabitha was a cold, calculating b***h...but then she sacrificed her own life to save the other Sisters. I thought it was remarkable how Ryan could make you feel so many emotions for each character. 

This book was right up there for my favorite reads this year. I give it 5 KEYS! And coming from me, that means a lot. I know many fantastic books that I just wasn't willing to bump from the 4 1/2 star to the 5 star rating, but this was just too great of a read to ignore. It was a heartbreaking and terrifying account of survival, love, loss, and memories.  If you like zombies, paranormal fiction, distopian fiction, truly compelling books, or ANY of the above, I seriously recommend you go get your grubby little hands on a copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I REALLY hope the next two are as amazing as this one, and I will be going to the library/store to buy them immediately...that is if I don't just go download them to my nook because I can't wait to read more Carrie Ryan...


  1. The last one was my FAV of this series!! Mary completely irritated me in this book! Lol

  2. I have heard alot about this series sounds awesome i love this review ty for sharing

  3. beautiful cover! sounds very interesting. thanks for another helpful review!

  4. never read any from this series but your review makes it sound like an eerily wonderful adventure! I might just check out the series

  5. I'm really trying to understand what you mean about Mary, but I can't. I hated her. I just found her to be so selfish and uncaring. She had a one track mind and it was frustrating.

    But the writing was intense and beautiful.

    Glad you liked it so much. :)

  6. I dunno you guys, maybe it was the narration from the audiobook that I listened to that gave Mary the character that y'all didn't see...I really liked her. I thought that she was a good product of the time/place she lived in. She wasn't perfect, but I thought that she was trying hard with what she'd been given

  7. Great review. I'm not really a fan of zombies so I wasn't expecting like this book when I read it a few years ago, but I ended up loving it. I'm actually reading the third book right now. It's great but I'm sad to see this series come to an end. If you liked this one then you will love the next two.

  8. I've just really gotten deep into the Hunger Games and already I've been looking for the next Dystopian series to start. I have several of the books in this series so this sounds exactly like what I'm looking for.

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  9. I have heard about this book I've been meaning to get a copy. Your review makes it sound awesome! thanks for the insight.

  10. I loved this book! It's so beautifully written. It's sad, dark, gritty, but that makes the book great! And I always love any book that has love and romance! It was frustrating that they can't be who they wanted to be with early on in the story, but I guess that's what helps drive part of the story :)

    Anyways, I love the rest of the trilogy as well even though the main character in each is a different person.

  11. Great review! At first was pretty frustrated with how flat Mary's charcter was. She seemed to have no personality at all. Then after a nice work discussion...I came to realize that it would be impossible for her to be more interesting. Otherwise, she would out shine the rest of the shamblers. LOL...anyway...your insight helped me appreciate her dreary and plain additude just a bit more.

  12. I'm with Ashley, Mary drove me nuts. I still need to read the 3rd book.

  13. I loved this book, one of the better dystopians floating around out there.

  14. Wow, this sounds like a really interestig series. A little outside of what I usually read, but I'm intrigued. Great review

  15. This is one of those series that I just haven't read yet. I am not even sure why I haven't read it. It sounds like it would be right up my alley. And so many people that have the same tastes as myself in books have loved it. I really need to read at least this first book in the series. I might not like it, but I at least need to give it a shot.

  16. I love your enthusiasm for this book. It's such an awesome title. Definitely one for me.