Okay. So this is the first, and only, zombie book I have ever read. It wasn't just about zombies. It was a story of love, family, and the true meaning of survival. It was absolutely beautiful and I couldn't stop reading once I started! I want to read the second novel in this series, but it is not the same group of characters. I may read it, though.
Buy this book right now. There isn't much else to say. It is one of my favourite books and I can guarantee you an eventful afternoon on your couch if you choose this book.
The plot is unbelievably fast paced. The entire book took me 2 hours to read because I literally could not put it down. There is not an instant where the characters are just sitting down, there is nonstop action.
THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH reads like a masterpiece, not a debut. With a gripping plot and a genre-based subject, you might not expect classy writing, but the beautiful language author Carrie Ryan uses sets this book into a class of itself.
The plot is filled with constant twists and turns, enhanced by the well-drawn-out main character, Mary. The setting, a post-zombie world where the zombies literally rattle the fences around the town, is scary enough, but it's the psychological torture of Mary and the others that are truly terrifying. Being trapped and surrounded by the dead is definitely enough to wig anyone out!
Beyond that, the writing in this novel is excellent. It is by far one of the best written books I read in 2009. The prose is brilliantly written, each word ringing with poetry.
If you need any further convincing, consider this. At a conference, Carrie Ryan mentioned that her method of writing was simple: whenever her characters felt safe or comfortable, she asked, "What is the worst thing that could happen now?" and then made that happen. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.
You will need a spare pair of underwear whilst reading this for two reasons: one, it is scary. Really, really scary. Like, you will pee yourself. The descriptions of the zombies--did I mention there are zombies? Did I mention how awesome that is?--are truly haunting, beautifully written, and so imaginative that they almost pop out at you. While I was reading it, everytime one of my family members trudged outside my room, I jumped a little, fearing my home was being overrun with the Uncosencrated from The Forrest of Hands and Teeth. That's how descriptive it was. I couldn't tear my eyes from the page.
Which leaves me with the second reason you will need extra undies: you will simply not want to put it down. Not even to go to the bathroom. Mary's frightened, fragile but strong narrative is simply addicting.
Now, just because it's a scary read, doesn't mean there aren't any heart felt moments. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is, at it's core, a tear-jerker. Mary and her friend's relationships with each other, all different, all layered and extremely complicated, tug at your heart and don't let go. From Mary's love/hate relationship with her brother, to her brother's anguish over his wife's infection and, in turn, the death of his unborn child, every aspect of the lives these characters lead are heartbreaking in their sincerity, and it gives you a horrible feeling of despair whenever they fight, whenever one of them dies, because you grow to love each and every one.
Ms. Ryan's prose is haunting, in that the characters are just as in the dark as the reader. They know little about the creatures around them, except that one scratch my their decaying fingernails will, no doubt about it, turn you into a Unconsecrated. There's no information dump, no long paragraphs about the Forest or how it came to be. Just Mary's need to survive. She doesn't know why, she just knows she has to.
I'd definetly suggest this to any fans of The Hunger Games, The Knife of Never Letting Go, and any fans of zombies. You won't be disapointed!
Mary lives in a world that is set in stone; there are things you just know and things that you just shouldnt wonder about. Some things are simple, true, and have been for as long as anyone knows: 1. The Guardians will always protect 2. The Sisterhood is always right. 3. The Unconsecrated are always there, and always trying to break through.
Mary has spent her entire life surrounded by these infected shells of people, some of which were her friends, family, neighbors, etc. They attack the fences, crave human flesh, and moan the most chilling sound youve ever heard. Think of every zombie movie youve ever saw, and combine all those creepy figures into one and thats the image that goes through my mind when I think of the Unconsecrated. Now imagine living in a lone village, smack in the middle of a forest that is full of these people with only chain link fences and the armed Guardians to protect you. This is Marys life.
The Sisterhood controls the knowledge; they control what everyone else knows about the world outside the fence, and what everyone doesnt know. Mary dreams of life outside the fence, of life at the other end of the gate that leads to the path, the only path that leads to and from the village, the path that no one has ever been allowed to go down. Slowly everything Mary has ever known starts falling apart one by one; the Sisterhood has secrets and Mary learns things that she was never supposed to know.
One day the fences are breached, the Unconsecrated descend upon the village, upon the only lives these people have ever known. The village is in chaos, theres only one safe place to go, and its forbidden. Now Mary has some choices to make: Will she stay in her village and fight for it or will she save herself and the people she can and take the path? Will she choose the one she loves or the one that loves her? Will she find out if there is life outside a village and a forest that is surrounded by so much death and constant danger?
This is such an amazing book! I am having trouble putting how much I actually love this book into words outside of a fangirl scream OMG! I am also tickled purple (not pink, pink is too girly and not exciting enough!) to find out from Carrieryan.com that there is not only a sequel called The Tossed-Dead Waves that will come out Spring of 2010, but there will be a THIRD (!!!!!!) book that will come out Spring of 2011. And the possibility of a movie, because Seven Star Pictures (which is a new company, but they are doing K-11, with Kristen Stewart and Nikki Reed), and it is listed on their website as an Upcoming Film. This is such an amazing read, as I have already said, but it chilling, gripping, it has just enough romance to satisfy someone, without overwhelming the horror, and the hope that the story employs. Its such a dark and terrifying tale, but at the same time its extremely beautiful and hopeful; and that mix is just what the doctor ordered.
From inside cover: "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, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
Now 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?"
When this book first came out I picked it up every time I went to the bookstore, but I always put it back down. Then I was at the library and saw that they had a copy, so I decided to give it a try. After all, if I didn't like it - I could just return it and it wouldn't be a big deal (there is nothing worse than buying a book only to find out a couple chapters in that it is HORRIBLE). Let's just say that now I have to make a trip to the bookstore... because I NEED a copy of this book on my bookshelf. Right next to its continuation when it comes out in March 2010 (sooo far away!!).
Before reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the only zombie centered books that I'd read were Laurell K. Hamilton's books (aimed for "adult" readers) and You Are So Undead to Me by Stacy Jay. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is nothing like those two books - at all. It's much more serious, realistic (if zombies were real) view of zombies and a world where zombies outnumber the living. Actually, it was kind of like I Am Legend (which was first a book, I think). With a bit of The Village mixed in as well.
I loved Mary as a narrator and heroine. I loved the fact that she was so filled with life in a world that was filled with death and, in many ways, hopelessness. Mary never gave up fighting for what she wanted or believed in - even when she didn't really have any proof that what she was fighting for even existed. I found myself rooting for her to succeed in fulfilling her dreams!
I really appreciated the love story - which was (as the ever wise Seth Cohen of the OC would say) a love rhombus - including Mary, her best friend, her fiance, and his brother. It really doesn't get more soap opera than that, but it was amazing nonetheless and totally suited the atmosphere of the story.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a portrayal of what would happen if zombies really did overrun the world, told from the point of view of a heroine that the reader could relate to.
This book is about much more than zombies and a complicated love story - it's about freedom of choice and fighting for your dreams and beliefs despite overwhelming obstacles!
I finished this book two nights ago and was really too stunned to write
a review for it. This book read like a zombie movie. You were scared,
you were desperate, and you were hopeful - along with Mary.
still trying to understand Mary as a character, because she has two
brother vying for her attention, but all she cares about is seeing the
ocean again. The girl is never satisfied and always curious. I pondered
this book for a day or so now and have tried to put myself in her
shoes. How would you act if surrounded by Unconsecrated day and night,
having to listen to their moans. I can't blame the girl for wanting to
dream about a place where they can't touch her life.
Who knew the Zombie Apocolypse could be so AWESOME!
Reader reviewed by Elise
This is a book about the zombie apocalypse--and, no, I'm not joking.
The Unconsecrated are infected future citizens of the world and they will come eat you if you don't watch out! The Forest of Hands and Teeth,
however, is not a lame scream-filled horror (quite the contrary, in
fact). It is a beautifully constructed, meaningful, speculative book
with a realistic, tortured voice that the reader cannot avoid wanting
to die for. Mary is just so real. Her desires and needs and decisions aren't fanciful or outlandish and really let us connect
with her on such a personal level that it's frightening. The amazing
and horrific setting is both enthralling and disturbing, from the
blatant declaration that marriage has nothing to do with love to the
vivid descriptions of individual undead. Zombies aside, however, this
book is also a love story that will rip you to the core with the
all-too-real emotions and complications that come along with falling in
love in a world like Mary's involving a heartrending love-square full
of pain, sacrifice, and duty that is just all wrong
but cannot be put right. But above all, this story leaves the reader
with one question, waiting desperately to be answered with Ryan's next
novel: How exactly will the world survive the siege of the
Ever since she was child, Mary yearned to see the ocean. Most of the
people in Marys village think she is foolish to think anything but
their village exists. They have always been told that their small
village was the only thing left after the Return. The village is
surrounded by fences, so the Unconsecrated (zombies) cant reach them.
After Marys mom is taken by the Unconsecrated, Mary must join the
Sisterhood. There, she learns that the Sisterhood has been keeping
secrets, and that her village is not the only thing left in the world.
Does this mean that a vast area of water, unaffected by the
Unconsecrated still exists? And how far will Mary go to find the ocean?
First of all, I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth. The
novel was thrilling and took no easy way outs. I liked how Ryan chose
the focus on the apocalypse after it happened. This gave the novel
unique feel. My favorite thing about the novel was Mary. She was a
flawed person, but a realistic character. I did not like all of her
decisions, but I understood that her decisions were her choices. I know
that must sound confusing, but what I mean is that Mary knew what she
was doing the entire time was what was best for her. Although, admittedly, some readers will be frustrated with how far Mary was willing to go to reach her dream.
I also enjoyed the part where Ryan subtly touched on religion and
its flaws. When I reached the end of the novel, I was sad. I wanted
more! However, because the point-of-view surrounded around Mary, more
of a resolution would have been impossible.