THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: February 2010
(Hardcover Published: March 2009)
(Also Available in Hardcover, Electronic and Audio Formats)
Age Group: Young Adult +
UK | GERMAN | FRENCH
(I LOVE the German one!)
A New York Times Bestseller * A Junior Library Guild Selection
An ALA Best Books for Young Adults * A Borders Original Voices Finalist
#4 on the IndieBound Kids’ Indie Next List for Spring 2009
for more see Carrie Ryan’s site.
Review: I’ve never been a fan of zombies or horror movies. When I first picked up a copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan, I had no idea it was about zombies. I knew it was set in a Dystopian world, but that’s about it. I discovered what it was really about and put off reading it. After watching The Walking Dead on AMC and liking the show — I use the term “liking it” loosely — I decided to read THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH.
THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is a psychological horror thriller that will have you ravishing the book from cover to cover. I could not put the book down. I was gripped to my core while reading THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. I was disturbed, fascinated and stunned into a zombie-like stupor after turning the last page. It’s definitely an intense roller-coaster ride.
THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is the kind of book that you can not get out of your head. In fact, I had to do something else in order to stop thinking about the book. And even while writing this review, I’m still rattled by what I read. I can’t say I “enjoyed” the book. THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH isn’t a book one “enjoys.” It’s more of a feeling of being creeped out.
As I turned the pages, I felt like a dark spell was cast over me because I desperately wanted to know how this thing ended. I read until 2 am to get to the bloody end. I mean bloody not in reference to the British swear word, but as in scary and violent. During horror movies, I usually cover my face while watching such terrifying scenes or turn the channel. But I couldn’t in this case. I was riveted to the page no matter how gloomy and depressing the story became.
The story of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is engrossing and a little odd. It’s told from the viewpoint of Mary who lives in a large village that is fenced in from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. The forest is called such because of the multitude of Unconsecrated (zombies) who live in it. It’s never explained how people first became zombies, just that there was some sort of life before The Return aka the zombie apocalypse. I’m hoping in the second book, THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES some of my lingering questions will be answered.
The village is protected and run by a group of woman known as the Sisterhood who live in the Cathedral near the fence. They are strict, stern and shrewd. They will do everything in their power to protect the people of the village, especially the women, by controlling them in their everyday lives from their choice of marriage, if spoken for by a male, or entering the Sisterhood.
Mary is obsessed with leaving the village. She believes that there is a whole world waiting for her outside the fence. But how does she get there if her path is barred by death? Ever since she was a little girl, Mary’s mother told her about life before The Return. She also regaled her with stories of the ocean. Mary has never seen the ocean and wants more than anything to feel the rush of the saltwater on her skin. To Mary, the ocean means freedom.
Everyone, including Mary’s best friend Cass, has told her there’s no such thing as the ocean. How can she know it’s out there if she’s never seen it? Mary is also in love with Travis, a friend in the village. However, Travis has spoken for Cass. Mary is trapped in the village, trapped by the Sisterhood and trapped in her own mind, and as a reader you feel trapped with her.
The entire novel is about choices — ones we may be happy with and/or ones we regret. And Mary makes some tough choices in THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. Choices that made me think, “Oh my God, what are you doing?” Mary will do anything to have freedom…even if it means putting her friends and herself at risk to the Unconsecrated.
When the fence is breached and suddenly her world is thrown into chaos, Mary and her friends must decide to stay behind and fight or become what they most fear or to look for the ocean beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
I was surprised how much energy this book took out of me — emotionally and mentally. THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is a trilogy. I’m dying to read THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES and the third book, THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES (March 2011). But I think I’m going to take a breather. I need to give my brain a rest — no pun intended for the zombie fans out there. The book series is definitely for older teens and adults. It contains violence, gore and scary situations.
THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is not for the faint of heart. However, I dare you to read it and not walk away wondering what you would do if you were in Mary’s shoes — especially at the end of the novel. I “liked” this book because I was invested in the characters, the story held my interest and the stakes were high for each of the characters who are all interesting and developed.
THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH made me think. I started to wonder what I would do if there was a zombie attack and everyone I knew was becoming one: Would I stay and fight or run away to find my own ocean?
I’m giving THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH 4.5
font> “Relaxing (errr…umm..I don’t think relaxing is the right word here) with a Good Book” retro pictures for being thought-provokingly scary.
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