Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan

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 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 by so much death?  (Summary from book - Image from

My Review:  Mary has lost her father and mother to the Unconsecrated that live in the unending forest, that press against the village fence with their rotted flesh.  The Sisterhood tells them their village is all that is left since The Return, that it is the only safe place in a sea of the undead, but Mary remembers her mother’s stories of the Ocean and wonders if there could be people left and a place that is safe.  Then an Outsider comes to town using a long forbidden path, and just as mysteriously disappears.  When the Unconsecrated breach the carefully guarded village walls, Mary flees with a few others, back the way the stranger had come, deep into the Forest of Hands and Teeth, where danger lurks on all sides and safety is an illusion.   

I loved every second of this emotionally charged and suspenseful story.  It started out slowly, rife with tension, and then plunged into a rushing, roaring, hold on to your seats kind of ride.  I mourned with Mary when loved ones were lost and white-knuckled the pages whenever the Unconsecrated were near.  I shared the group’s desperation, wondering if they would ever really be safe.
At times gruesome and callous, The Forest of Hands and Teeth is not your happily-ever-after love story.  It’s about the choices we make to survive, the sacrifices we make for love, and the consequences of pursuing your dreams.  I really didn’t want to put it down. My two oldest watched a movie during my baby’s nap time, I almost throttled my husband for interrupting me during the last few chapters, and when I finished all I could think was “Why did I wait so long to read this?!”

My Rating: 5 Stars (for a YA novel)

For the sensitive reader: No sex or language, but there were a lot of gruesome descriptions of death and some atheistic undertones that ended up being resolved towards the end of the book.   I’d say this was a lighter (read less lyrical, complex, and gory, more PG13) version of The Reapers are the Angels.
Sum it up:  M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village meets Alden Bell’s The Reapers are the Angels in The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  My kind of book.  


Amy said...

I've never heard of this! Totally going to put this on my to-read list!

Amy said...

Also--it looks like this is a trilogy!

MindySue said...

Amy - Sort of. The next book is about Mary's daughter and the one after that sounds like it about a girl who lives outside a village who wants to go back. So the trilogy is more just use of the same setting rather than a major continuation of Mary's story. Don't worry, though, I plan to read them all!

Melissa Paul said...

This sounds a lot like something I read in Kiss Me Deadly - is it the same story?

MindySue said...

It's the same setting. Kiss Me Deadly is a collection of short stories. One of them IS by Carrie Ryan and is about one of the characters, Sister Tabitha, who does play a part in The Forest of Hands and Teeth.


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