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Friday, March 6, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (March 10th 2009—Delacorte Press)

Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “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?”

Review: I had high standards for this book. While the summary less than caught my eye when I first heard about it, I expected it to captivating based off of so many positive reviews and awards. Sadly, I may be the few and the only ones who did not come to love this book. So just tally this up with The Hunger Games, and John Green, because I have a feeling I shall face many comments about my review (or will you all avoid this train wreck waiting to happen?)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth had too much going on at the same time. The romance had no true beginning. It was mentioned that she craved for Travis, but no real background as to why. She later pushes through the story without explaining anything between the two. Mary keeps mentioning how much she loves Travis but yet, I saw no actual development between them. Yes. They had a few scenes where they connect but I feel like I still do not understand why they are so love with each other. Harry was, however, a better match I felt at times. Granted, not always but I got a deeper connection between the two (Mary and Harry) rather than Travis.

This brings us to the characters. I thought that while Mary was the main character, she was one of the weakest. I felt that her drive, her motivation was superficial. She only thought of the ocean, of Travis, of her survival. To me, she was selfish. Granted, she may have some tenderness and care in certain scenes but overall I just was not all that fairly compassion towards her. To say the least, the majority of the character I felt no true sense of connection. They either died too quickly before anything really big started, or they just fell. Hard. However, I did feel like Mary’s brother Jed, was great. I liked his depth, his emotions, and his desire. I love his need to protect Beth but also his reaction to the turn of their mother and how the situation was ironical similar.

The plot in general I had issues with. The plot sounded wonderful but the execution lacked. The author tried to do too many things all at once. She tried romance, thriller, mystery, action, and adventure. This only created an awkward situation together. I felt if she focused on some of these genres then she would have succeeded, but for now, I felt she rambled on at certain areas trying to contain it all. It was only about how way through the novel did the story finally picked up—that the actual Unconsecrated (just a fancy term for zombies…) attacked. Ever now and then, there were golden scenes that was perfect and that was one of the starting points for me. Another was the Sisterhood and Mary’s short time confinement with them. I actually happened to love that. The secrets, the crazy loons, and the secret rendezvous. I guess what I love most about it was that Mary had more dimension while she was there. It was where it was mostly centered on one action or genre which made the most sense in my mind.

The background information that the story provided was in the first half. I felt that it was great she (Carrie Ryan) included it all in there, to inform the reader of the world before. It gave great insight, great detail, and a better understanding of the village and the causes of the entire Forest of Hands and Teeth. However, I did felt that there some things in there that could have been taken off. Again, it was the ramblings that dragged the story on too long.

The ending. It was…I guess it was an ending if you can call it that. I felt it was more of a hastily ending to keep the reader wanting more for the sequel. It was too abrupt, left too many unanswered questions.

Besides all of that, the writing was beautifully done—great analogies, detailed descriptions of scenes, and a brutal and honest tone, albeit sometimes dull. Carrie Ryan created a stunning post-apocalyptic world that fulfills every fantasy lovers dream. With its intricate world, detailed plot, and gruesome action, Forest of Hands and Teeth will captivate many.

Overall: Sad and disappointed. Will still keep this in my bookshelf because it is a series, so that means I will hopefully read the next part and maybe a lot of my questions will be answered. Like the Luxe series, I’m crossing my fingers that this series will progress in a better direction.

Cover B-

I would love to hear your opinions on this book!


  1. I still want this book really bad, ack. D: But I will remember your complaints before I begin reading.

  2. I don't know that I'd like this story, but I'm intrigued by the title.

  3. I wanted to love this book so much. Lately I've been drawn by covers (I was disappointed by Evermore too) and bought when I should've waited to get it through the library.

    I really agree with your comments and I probably liked the book less than you did. Thought the premise was great, was really intrigued for the first half of the book but after that I realized the book just wasn't for me and I tried to read faster, not because it was a page turner but because I wanted it to end sooner. It did compell me enough to finish the whole book though; I didn't quit which I do with books that no longer interest me.

    I had a lot of the same problems you did. I just felt a huge disconnect between me and the book, like it was holding me back, never letting me get too close. Most of the characters felt underdeveloped & lifeless. I felt sympathy in the beginning for Mary but as the book wore on that disappeared.

    Totally with you about Mary & Travis's relationship. When the book starts she's already in love with him but you're never told or shown why. I still don't know how their relationship was any different than her & Harry's before the book started. As a result I didn't care about their relationship although I will say I did like their scenes together in the cathdral. After those scenes I was willing to go along and see if their love could draw me in but it failed to do so.

    Overall I think I'd give the book a C-. I went along for the ride in the first half, was anxious to learn more, but the second half didn't deliver for me on character development or story.

  4. Forgot to mention that my bookstore was already selling a copy which is how I was able to buy it early even though it's not supposed to be out until next week.

  5. @outershell--I felt the same way you did about the pace of the book. I also picked the pace up after about two thirds of the book :(

    Thanks for the great opinion!

  6. @Charley--The title is the name of the village :)

  7. Interesting POV. I was so taken in by the themes that I could overlook some of the things you mentioned without them bothering me at all. Wasn't perfect, but it is well worth reading IMHO!

  8. Ha! You know the beginning part was my favorite too, the secret passages and the hushed secrets, the path. Great stuff and then zzzzzzzzzzzz.

  9. I felt the same way about the MC. But I'm glad I kept reading the series because it got much better. The second book was awesome - but the third book blew me away!