A website dedicated to books in the Young Adult genre, featuring book reviews, author interviews contests and much more!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan


Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (March 10, 2009)
Language: English
Buy at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Indiebound

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 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 in so much death?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is an extremely complex and well written novel that will haunt you long after you have finished it. It begins seven years after the Return- a plague resulting in the Unconsecrated (undead) who have ended civilization as we know it. Mary is a young girl living within the constraints of an archaic, close knit village community. The shambling, ravenous Unconsecrated are kept at bay outside her village by a chain link fence. Desperate to get in, the Unconsecrated incessantly wail and throw their bodies at it, making the threat of death a constant, oppressive reminder for the people of the village.

Carrie Ryan has beautifully woven issues of love, sacrifice, faith and survival into her narrative, creating a book that is both heartbreaking yet painfully beautiful. One thing that resonated with me in particular were the choices (or lack thereof) for women within the village. Mary’s village is enforced by the laws of The Sisterhood, a mysterious religious order. As a young woman, you have two options when you come of age. Either you are spoken for a by a man, whom you will marry and bear his children or you are resigned to the stark existence within the confines of the Sisterhood. Unlike most of the people within the village, Mary dreams of what lies beyond the Forest of The Hands and Teeth. Fueled by stories of vast oceans and tall skyscrapers that have been passed down in her family for generations, her insatiable curiosity propels her to long for more than she can attain in the closely controlled existence of the village. The fences may protect her, but her spirit and thirst for knowledge is painfully constricted within them. How would you feel if you lived in a world such as this, where your own hopes and dreams did not matter?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, is a dark and utterly captivating novel. I wanted to slow down and savor each moment of this book, but I found that impossible to do. I ended up racing on in an adrenaline rush, determined to find out what was going to happen to Mary, the brave determined heroine with big dreams and conflicting loyalties. I am anxiously awaiting The Dead Tossed Waves and can't wait to immerse myself back into the world Carrie Ryan has created.
Check out these new covers for The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Dead Tossed Waves-aren't they beautiful?

Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie Ryan is a graduate of Williams College and Duke University School of Law. A former litigator, she now writes full time. She lives with her writer/lawyer fiancé, two fat cats and one large puppy in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are not at all prepared for the zombie apocalypse.


~The Book Pixie said...

I was seriously considering buying this book and now I know I am. Today. Your review has got me wanting this book with a passion. I have absolutely GOT to get it now. Well written and great review.


Book Butterfly (Kim) said...

Thanks Briana! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :)

Lauren said...

This is a *really* good review! I have to confess, I read this book in that can't-turn-the-pages-fast-enough kind of way too, but I think I might have to put it back in my TBR pile for a reread.

elnice said...

Interesting. I have been readig mixed reviews of this books, you either love it or hate it. Guess I'll have to read and form my own opinion.

Pixie said...

Great review. The Forrest of Hands and Teeth is one of my favorite books. I love those covers.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

i saw this title at my local library yesterday. It looked really intriguing but I may need to take a break from that kind of involved Young Adult fiction. I just got done reading the Hunger Games and Catching Fire back to back.

GMR said...

Love the review! The cover of this one caught my eye a while back but I had heard mixed reviews on the story....it's great to add another positive one to my "should-I-read-this" meter for balance. (probably going to read it...scales leaning in its favor.)

Anonymous said...

I've been considering this book for too long. I should just buy it. :X


Great review Kim, I still gotta read this book, it's just sitting there looking at me lol. I love the new covers!

Nely said...

I read and loved this one too. Wonderful review.


Jill of The O.W.L. said...

I honestly think that if it wasn't for blogging I wouldn't have caught this book! I'm glad I did. Will be getting ASAP :)

Casey said...

I loved this book! Glad you liked it too. I still don't know if I like the new cover for the second book. I like it but now it isn't going to match this one. I'm weird like that :)

Jazz said...

This is a wonderful review. I've been wanting to read this for a long time, and I'm even more interested now that I know it involves women oppressing women. I don't support it, I just think it would be fascinating to read.

Arya said...

Scary awesomeness! Great review! =)

WilowRaven said...

This, so far, is my favorite book of 2009. I cannot wait for the next one. I love the cover!
Great review - thanks!