Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Release Date: March 10, 2009
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fantasy, Teen/YA
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Mary lives in her small village, surrounded by fences to keep the Unconsecrated, or the undead, out. The villagers go about their daily lives, controlled by the Sisterhood (a religious organization) and protected by the Guardians. But Mary knows there is more out there than this. She dreams of the ocean, something her mother has told her about but no one else believes exists. When Mary’s mother is bitten by an Unconsecrated, it unleashes a chain of events that will change Mary and the village forever.
I’ll admit, I have been disappointed with the paranormal YA novels I’ve read lately. I’ve read some great novels, but many of the hyped, popular novels that everyone else has loved have fell flat for me. I knew I wanted to read The Forest of Hands and Teeth eventually, but wasn’t really clamoring for it, for fear that it would disappoint me like so many other books have. But when I received the sequel The Dead Tossed Waves for review, I decided I really needed to go ahead and read this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Forest of Hands and Teeth and am honestly relieved at how much I liked it. Carrie Ryan does a wonderful job with the world building in this novel. She builds it slowly, and each answer she provides the reader only serves to spark more questions. But it’s intricately done and incredibly well thought out; each sentence, each description in this novel left me wanting more and made me read on that much faster, to discover the answers to the mysteries behind this dark world.
I thought Mary was a little bit selfish, but completely believable as a teen. I loved her inner fight in this book. She wants Travis, loves Travis, but she also wants the ocean. She lives in her dreams; they sustain her. It’s interesting to watch her grapple with the notion that she might not be able to have both her dreams and the boy she loves.
There are a lot of other important issues discussed in The Forest of Hands and Teeth as well, which I loved. From religion to the importance of our choices, Ryan doesn’t shy away from important topics, and it makes the book that much better for it.
I was a little worried about the descriptions of the Unconsecrated (basically zombies) because undead really aren’t my cup of tea. Carrie Ryan does a great job proving her point at how horrifying they are through her descriptions, but doesn’t try to gross the reader out.
I really liked The Forest of Hands and Teeth and cannot wait to start reading The Dead Tossed Waves. Carrie Ryan has created a vivid and enthralling world in this novel and I can’t wait to see what she does next.