Review: The Forrest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

3 Oct

Series: The Forrest of Hands and Teeth, book #1

Published: July 2009 by Gollancz

Details: Paperback, 310 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

About Mary who lives in a village surrounded by a fence to keep out the zombies that populate the forest. One day there is a breech in the fence and she and a few others manage to escape. Ryan has created a cruel and fascinating dystopian world. Unfortunately too much time is taken up by Mary’s inconsistent and whiny thoughts. All in all, ok but not great. There is a sequel.

A few chapters in:

I heard somewhere that zombies are the new vampires. I don’t know if that’s true, it remains to be seen. What I do know, is that I have never read a YA fiction before involving zombies. That alone made me curious about this book. I am now only a few chapters in, and it has grabbed my attention.

Mary lives in a village in the middle of a forest. Nothing unusual about that, except for the fact that their village is closed in by a high metal fence in order to keep out the zombies (or the Unconsecrated as they are called) who populate the forest. Once in a while, a human gets too close to the fence and is bitten by the zombies, thus turning into one of them. At the start of the book, this very thing happens to the mother of the Mary. She lost her father to the zombies only months previously, and now finds herself all alone, but for a brother who doesn’t want to have anything to do with her.

She seeks refuge with the Sisters, a religious group of women – who are also the rulers of the village. This is as far as I’ve got but I am intrigued by the original plot. Let’s see what happens next..

After finishing the book:

Ok, so I finished the book last night. What did I think?

Well, it started out great and I was really intrigued by the premise of Mary discovering secrets within the sisterhood – the rulers of her village – in the middle of the forest of unconsecrated. There were indeed secrets – the sisterhood was withholding the truth from the villagers, and I got really eager to find out what truth exactly?

But then, instead of exploring that route, we are treated to all of Mary’s thoughts regarding the brothers Harry and Travis and how she is not happy about the way events have unfolded between the three of them. Usually, I am a fan of romance, but in this particular book I found that it bothered me. As if I wanted to shout – get a grip! – to Mary. She was under constant threat, one way or the other throughout the whole book and it felt as if all she cared about was who she had been bound to marry before everything happened – and how terrible it was that it had not been the right guy.You’d think that things like that would lose its importance once your whole world crumbles to pieces? I mean who cares if you were marrying the wrong guy – it’s not happening now anyway because the world as you know it has dissappeared. Now please quit pondering the past and get yourself and your friends saved from the immediate danger happening right now!

So no, I couldn’t relate to her – and not being emotionally invested in her made me lose some interest in the book. Unfortunately.

Because it is a fascinating world Ryan has created, cruel and fascinating. She is certainly not taking the safe road – a happy ending approach. It really does feel quite realistic (as far as realism goes in a world of zombies). Some very bad things happen throughout their journey – so terrible it was hard to read at times – the harshness of it all – the heart-breaking decisions they have to make. By the end of the book you will be craving for some light – some warmth. And that may happen. The ending was interesting and definitely made me want to check out the sequel.

The Bottom Line:

The only problem is that the sequel is sure to continue via the thoughts of  Mary, and being as little invested as I am in her, I wonder if it is worth my time. I can only hope she grows. Sequel is called The Dead-Tossed Waves.

5 Responses to “Review: The Forrest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan”

  1. jenika September 7, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    I started to read this book time ago but I stopped half way because I found another book I was much more interested in reading.
    Anyway I think I’ll give it another chance as it wasn’t so bad and I read very little.
    Anyway if you want to read a YA with zombies try “Dead beautiful” by Yvonne Wonn… I can’t say anything else otherwise I would spoil the book but even if it was not my best book ever, it had a few enjoyable and original things in the plot and characters.

    • tess September 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

      Yes it wasn’t the best book, but the world was interesting! I’ve heard the rest of the series gets better, so might try the sequel sometime soon. Would love to hear what you think if you go ahead and read the whole book! Thanks also for the tip about Dead Beutiful, I’ll keep an eye out for it 🙂

  2. jenika September 29, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Hi Tess
    I finished reading the book a few days ago and I quite enjoyed it. A few things were maybe a bit off but the world was very well described and the story was quite catching too.
    I would give the book a 3.5/5
    I am not totally sure I would continue the series, but I might give it a try.

  3. jenika September 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    another thing that I liked about the book is the cover… that is what actually made me curious to read the book…

    • tess October 1, 2011 at 7:34 am #

      I agree that the cover is well done! And I’m glad you enjoyed it too. I’ve heard the second book is very similar to the first one, and that the third book is the best of all three. So it might be worth while to read the rest of the series. I haven’t decided myself yet if to continue or not. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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