Aug 30, 2013

Review--The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

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 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 in so much death?

So I've had Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth in TBR pile for way too long now and I decided to give it a go. It was quite an interesting read, yet not thoroughly satisfying. There was a lot of world building, but I kind of felt lost to it. Like I wasn't sure where I was or even when--which I think was deliberate, but still, I was definitely a bit lost. The characters were pretty good, yet at times I felt like our heroine wasn't quite sure what she wanted from life either, hence making the story and her moving forward quite a bit confusing.

Mary lives a simple life in her village. She knows to never go near the fence line where the Unconsecrated dwell, because then they could grab her and turn her into one of them. The Unconsecrated are basically zombies and they are pretty downright freaky ones too. There is mentioning of The Return which if I understood correctly was an event in time and also related to becoming an Unconsecrated.

When Mary's mother willing makes the change to become one of the Unconsecrated to follow her husband from some time past, Mary takes it hard. Worse, her older brother Jed blames her for it and practically shuns her. With no one else to turn to, she goes to the Sisterhood, a group of nuns that kind of run the village and basically joins them because there's nothing else to choose unless she too chooses the life of an Unconsecrated and she loathes that idea.

Soon her childhood crush, Travis comes to the church because he's been injured and the Sisterhood is like a hospital too. Mary cares for him, prays for him and all that jazz and if even possible falls in love with him even more. But nothing can be done for it because he is betrothed to Cass, her best friend. And before she knows it, her life at the Sisterhood comes to an end and she's betrothed to Harry, Travis's younger brother, who's been in love with her forever.

And basically a whole complicated love-shape-thingy begins, because Mary loves Travis but is betrothed to Harry, Travis loves Mary but is betrothed to Cass, Cass grows to love Harry but is betrothed to Travis, and Harry loves Mary and he's betrothed to her, so he's pretty happy about that. So yeah. Things are definitely messy in the love area. Travis and Mary try for some stolen moments together, but never seems to go the way they want it too. Travis feels obligated to let his brother have Mary because that would make Harry happy. Things just get weird in that area, it was hard to keep up with all the excuses as to why everyone could not be with who they wanted!

Other tidbits that confused me in this story was the Sisterhood themselves. These nuns are pretty weird. The way they run their village with all these rules. It's crazy. Plus, they are keeping all sorts of secrets. Like why an outsider has come to their village and seems to be taken prisoner within the church. Mary sees her through the window and learns that her name is Gabrielle. She's curious about this Gabrielle and where she comes from. Mary longs to go somewhere else, to see the ocean her mother always talked about when she was a child. Mary is quite the dreamer, she would always tell her mother's stories to her friends. 

But after the Unconsecrated attack her village, Mary along with Harry, Travis, Jed, his wife, Cass and a young boy are forced to run. They run out of their village that's lined by a fence onto a path that was pretty much forbidden to them, in hopes of finding escape and refuge. Mary longs to find the ocean in her quest too. Stranger still is when Mary sees that one of the Unconsecrated is Gabrielle and she moves super fast compared to the slow shuffle of the others. Which draws me back to, what the freak is up with the Sisterhood?

The pacing to this one dragged a bit as the group was constantly running and trying to find somewhere safe and find food and water. It was a lot of moving around and trying to fight the Unconsecrated. And by the end, well, just wow. So wasn't expecting all that to happen. There were quite a few losses is all I'll say.

I am not so sure I will be continuing this story. It was good for the most part, but I just couldn't quite get into it as well as I had hoped I would. Parts of it reminded me of the movie, The Village, since you know they all live in a village in olden days and it's really modern day. Here though it feels like modern days and yet they are living in the past...while trying to keep safe from the Unconsecrated.

There were just too many questions pondering in my head. As well as not being able to truly connect with the characters. I won't say that I hated the book or the characters. I just felt kind of detached. It was a very intriguing read though.

Overall Rating 3/5 stars


  1. I could connect with the characters, so I guess that's why I love this book so much :) The next book as so-so, but this series end with a BANG. The last one is by far the best, so don't let book 2 stop you from ending it :)!


  2. Hey, a zombie book that has great world building. I might just have to give this one a shot. :)

  3. I loved this one but I understand what you mean about it being detached. The next books are better though and answer loads of questions so I'd recommend keeping going with the series.

  4. I liked this book but the writing style does lend itself to detachment. I personally found the second book infuriating but I've noticed a pattern that people who didn't enjoy Forest that much really like The Dead Tossed Waves, so YMMV. Can't beat those titles for mysteriousness though ;)

  5. This book is always in the library when I go....the summary just doesn't draw me in. Oh well. This books on the back burner for me. Great review(:
    Happy reading

  6. Thanks for the review! I actually stayed away from this book on purpose, I had a feeling I probably won't like it, and from what you said, I guess I was right. And yeah, the romance part sounds too messy for me, too, and I was not a fan of The Village, and I love zombie books, but this doesn't seem like a read for me. Also, in the end it really comes down to how much you'll like or connect to the characters, that's quite a big part of how much you'll enjoy a book.

  7. I haven't heard of this book and it does sound interesting. Thanks for the review :)

  8. I've been meaning to read this one for a long time but I've heard a lot of mixed things about it. Sounds like interesting world building and I guess she doesn't want you to think too much about the when and where part. I will probably get confused too though. Sounds like a lot of information. And not looking forward to the complicated love-shape-thingy!!! LOL

  9. I felt the same way! It was good, but it wasn't enough. I read it a few years ago and I don't remember everything, but I know I gave it 3 stars and wasn't completely satisfied. I began the second book but only read a chapter or two and never picked it back up again.


Comments are an award all on their own! So my blog is an award free one! Thanks for any consideration though!