Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth cover(Halloween is coming up, so I’ll be posting reviews of some good spooky reads I recommend. Enjoy!)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published March 10th 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

5/5 stars – loved it!

Mary lives in a village surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Within the village, the Sisterhood takes care of everything and the Guardians maintain the fence that encloses them. No one has ever been outside the village because the forest is full of the Unconsecrated, and the Unconsecrated are always hungry for living human flesh.

Raised on fairy tales of the outside world, Mary has a hard time keeping the faith the Sisterhood preaches. She knows there is something beyond the forest, that there is the ocean. After all, she’s seen a photograph of her many times great-grandmother on the beach, before the Return. Before the Unconsecrated rose.

When tragedy strikes her family, Mary’s life undergoes many changes. It tears her up inside, living a life that was given to her, not the one she has chosen. She begins to learn that the Sisterhood is keeping secrets, and curiosity consumes her, even though it might also destroy her. She is also consumed with desire for the one guy who is completely off-limits to her.

And then the fence is breached. And Mary, who has struggled with her beliefs, must allow her faith to lead her along the only path left.

This story is beautifully told. The theme of faith runs strong. Mary is a narrator with a lot of depth, full of conflicting emotions. She is flawed, and it makes her all the more real. This book is heart wrenching and terrifying, suspenseful and tense, but also full of love and hope. Above all else, there is hope.

If I felt The Hunger Games was The Dead and the Gone 100 years later, then The Forest of Hands and Teeth is definitely World War Z: The Oral History of the Zombie War 100 years in the future. The constant presence of the Unconsecrated throwing themselves against the fence, moaning, reaching through the wire, was a chilling background visual throughout nearly the entire book. I had to stop picturing it because I didn’t want to give myself nightmares. (I had zombie nightmares for two weeks while reading World War Z, it was that strongly written.) This book also has an amazing title, and despite being a tale of post-apocalyptic zombies, I wouldn’t classify it as horror.

Recommended for 14+; it probably helps to like zombies but  it’s not necessary. I hate assigning a gender, but this is probably more of a “girl book” due to all of Mary’s inner turmoil about the dudes in her life.


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