I enjoyed reading most of this book, however I have to admit up front that I was disappointed with a few aspects. First, the world Carrie Ryan created was pretty damn cool - apparently I have a secret desire to live within a bizarre and totally oppressive society. Unfortunately, my need for details was not fulfilled and though the world within the fence was totally fascinating to me, it wasn't enough for the main character, Mary.
I guess the disconnect I feel is when Mary is living with the Sisterhood (which provides some hairy scenes that made my heart race with anxiety), but the whole time Mary is there she is thinking about a guy and the ocean. I wanted her to be more interested in the mysteries right in front of her. She seemed interested, but not interested enough to really sneak around and get the answers I wanted. It was like she was preoccupied and I couldn't get her to focus. Focus on the basement of the Church Mary! Get me what I need!
Otherwise, this was a pretty fun zombie read for me. I've read almost nothing on zombies so this was a good transition because while zombies (Unconsecrated) are an essential ingredient, they pretty much take the back burner on this one to the characters living within the fence. I do love the imagery Carrie Ryan created of the Unconsecrated constantly scratching at the fences. It's so unimaginable that I love to imagine it. I only wish Mary wasn't so preoccupied with her mother's dreams instead of her own; in that way, I don't think I really understood Mary, especially since we only knew her mother for a short time.
All in all, The Forest of Hands and Teeth is an exciting read that made me anxious beyond belief in parts. I did come away feeling a little empty with character development but I was still eager to get my hands on the next in the series to see if I could squeeze some more answers out of it.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed it for the most part, but I can’t say that I loved it. In fact, I’m a little disappointed. I have been reading so many raves about this series, that I just knew it would be great. And the first half of the book was great. Then, I spent 100 pages feeling as if I was reading the same story over again. It was too repetitive for me. I almost put the book back on my bookshelf to finish at a later time because I had lost interest. Luckily, the last 50 pages or so were interesting enough to make me want to finish reading.
Since I have mixed reviews, I should tell what I liked and disliked about the book. On a positive note, there was ample character development. More than ample, actually. I really felt like I knew Mary. She was a complicated character, constantly changing throughout the story. I loved that she was conflicted for almost the entire book. She did not have a simple life or easy choices to make, and the author made sure we understood that. The love triangle that she found herself was very complicated. (Complicated is an understatement, actually.) I also liked the fact that Mary knew what she wanted for her life (for the most part). She never gave up on wanting to see the ocean, even when everyone around no longer believed it existed. That really shows her commitment and courage. She holds the hope that the others do not have.
Another character that I liked was Travis. He was the broody male figure throughout most of the book. While he didn’t say much, he shows that actions speak louder than words. It’s easy to see how Mary fell deeply in love with him. What really makes me appreciate Travis’s role is that fact that he is a broken man. He’s not the typical strong, healthy hero. He has a lame leg that limits much of what he can do, even the simple things like climbing stairs. If he were strong and healthy like the others I don’t think his character would have worked as well. There needed to be something physically wrong with him to help illustrate Mary’s strong and dedicated character. They were the perfect support—in many ways—for one another.
Along with the characters, the idea behind the story was decent. I’m not much of a fan of postapocalyptic literature, but I bought in to this book. The “zombies” walking around trying to kill the humans held my interest. It was an original take on zombies, at least with my reading experience. Also, I enjoyed looking for the subtle hints of our civilization while I read (i.e. references to New York, Coney Island, roman numerals, Shakespeare). It helped me understand just how far into the future the events in the book were supposed to occur. But that’s pretty much where my fondness ends. The plot (for me) was only so-so. It started strong, but it fizzled in the middle. I began feeling like I was reading the same thing over and over again: “Oh, the Unconsecrated are coming!” “We have to turn back.” “Why?!” I can only read those lines so many times before they become stale. I understand the purpose—the characters’ questioning of themselves and their situation is crucial to the theme in the book—but I really feel like it was over done. In fact, what started as a quick paced plot began to lag in the middle of the book because of all the repetitiveness. As I said earlier, I almost gave up on the book. Luckily things do turn around and the plot picks back up. As soon as Mary makes her final decision, the plot picked back up. Unfortunately, that was the end of the book. There were only around 20 pages remaining in the book at that point.
Overall, it was a decent book. I’ve read many reviews that scream of how great this book is, but I’m not as quick to call it awesome. I feel a little guilty about pushing this book to my students based on the awesome book trailer we watched on YouTube. I know I am going to have to help the kids that bought the book from our book fair make it through the book. As a reader, if I struggled and wanted to give up, I’m certain my kids will feel the same way. It’s not as fast paced as I thought it would be, which I know will present a problem for kids that don’t typically like to read. On a positive note… I did start reading the sequel which seems pretty good so far. (I wasn’t ready to dismiss the other books in the series.)
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 Marys 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 upthat 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 Marys 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 donegreat 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, Im crossing my fingers that this series will progress in a better direction.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth: Nothing to Lose Sleep Over
Reader reviewed by Kelsey
I was looking forward to this one. The summary sounds really cool. But
once I started it, I was not interested. I wasn't getting into the plot
at all. Which is weird, because it has zombies (or "Unconsecrated") in
it! How can it not be exciting?
But somehow Carrie Ryan made it boring.