Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Posted December 29, 2011 by Ames in Reviews | 6 Comments

Amy’s review of The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.

Nothing says Christmas like a good zombie book! LOL

Main Character: Mary
Love Interest: n/a
Series: The Forest of Hands and Teeth #1
Author: Website|Facebook|Twitter|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?

In Carrie Ryan’s the Forest of Hands and Teeth, zombies (or the Unconsecrated) have taken over and the human survivors have fenced themselves in. This is the world that Mary, our narrator, has grown up in. Her village is smack in the middle of the Forest and surrounded by fencing. The forest stretches as far as the eye can see and everyone assumes that they’re the last people to survive the Return (what they call the zombie infestation).

Mary’s mother grew up listening to stories of how the world was before the Return and she passes on to Mary the stories of the ocean. Mary even used to have a picture of one of her many greats-grandmother in the ocean, so she knows it’s real. Her friends don’t really believe her and think her stories are just that, stories, fiction, NOT REAL.

So our tale begins with Mary washing some sheets. One of her best friends has joined her and he’s basically just asked her to marry him. Mary is looking up at him, thinking of his brother, and she’s just about to respond when the siren goes off – which means the fence has been breached. Mary knows in her gut that something has happened to her mother. You see, Mary’s father has gone missing months ago (into the forest) and everyday her mother watches the forest, waiting for her husband to come back to her. But today, Mary knows she dallied too long at the stream and her mother didn’t wait for her to return before she began her lookout…and got too close to the fence.

Now when someone gets bitten by the Unconsecrated, they become infected. They will die and rise again as a zombie. When this occurs in Mary’s village, the bitten always has a choice – they can be killed or they can be turned loose into the Forest of Hands and Teeth to join the other Unconsecrated. Mary’s mother chooses to join those in the Forest (which leads Mary to believe that her father is also Unconsecrated).

Throughout this, Mary’s brother, a Guardian (those that mind the fences) has been away checking on some fencing further out. He gets back just in time to see his mother rise as a zombie. So Mary’s guilt over not being with her mother and her brother’s anger at her letting her mother make the decision to turn in the first place all result in Mary joining the Sisterhood.

The Sisterhood runs the village. They have the final say in major decisions and they have all the knowledge of the Return and life before it. Mary does not want to join the Sisterhood, but she doesn’t have a choice. (There’s a good scene here where one of the sisters shows her which choices she does have.) And Mary quickly realizes that there is more to the Sisterhood than she knew. There are secrets hidden within the Sisterhood and when an outsider comes through the fence, Mary’s world as she knows it changes forever.

Ok, not sure I did justice to the book, but just know that I loved it loved it loved it!

I picked this book up and did not put it down until I was done reading it. The story sucks you in and doesn’t let go! There is terror, action, romance and zombies! What more do you need?

First the world-building. Carrie Ryan has done an excellent job in creating a post-apocalyptic society. There’s no info dumping and we learn through Mary’s thoughts and experiences.

Second – our narrator. She’s a girl that’s always dreamed about what’s beyond the forest. While everyone around her is content with their existence, she’s heard about the ocean and she wants to see it. She lets her guilt get in the way when she’s forced into the Sisterhood but she’s independent and can think for herself. She makes hard decisions and she’s brave. She’s also good to have around in a jam (like zombies trying to eat you). I like my heroines to be strong and kick ass and that’s what Mary is.

The characters and the way they relate to each other are interesting too. Sister Tabitha is a scary lady, her brother is a redemptive jerk, the two brothers as love interests, her best friend. There’s even a dog. LOL

And the story doesn’t stay in Mary’s village. There’s plenty of action beyond the fence’s borders…

So for those of you who enjoy an excellent story with a smart and strong heroine and you don’t mind a little blood and guts? The Forest of Hands and Teeth is for you.

..and that’s your scoop!

Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Book Depository|Kobo
Book cover and blurb credit: http://barnesandnoble.com

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6 responses to “Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

  1. I read this towards the end of last year and thought it was excellent. Probably the best zombie book I have read before! I need to hurry up and read the next book.

  2. I haven’t read the sequel yet. I think I have really high expectations for it and I’m afraid it won’t meet them. LOL I’m so backwards like that.

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