Saturday, 16 April 2011

Book Review: The forest of hands and teeth by Carrie Ryan

There are small truths
Always knows best
Will protect and serve
Will never relent
Very rarely do I come across a book that I just can’t put down, there are books that I am eager to get back to and books that I struggle to find an excuse not to read, but from the moment I picked this one up I just couldn’t stop reading. I started it one morning and by the next morning I had finished it.

Initially, I was a little bit put off by the title – ‘The forest of hands and teeth’, I couldn’t really imagine enjoying a zombie filled YA or it being anything other than a horror story, which I do like on occasion but only on occasion. I am so glad that I didn’t let that put me off this book and in retrospect I actually think that the title works brilliantly with the novel.

Although this book is about Zombies or should I say the Unconsecrated, it is still a story of love and a journey of self discovery and the search for freedom in a world where too much freedom can be deadly. It does have some scary, tension filled moments that you would suspect from a book dealing with a world overtaken by the undead, but it definitely far from being only a horror story.

The main character, Mary, lives in a world that is limited by the barriers that protect her small village from the forest of hands and teeth, a vast forest that is filled with the Unconsecrated. Her small village is all that she has ever known, it is all that her mother has ever known and her grandmother before that. Since the great return – the apocalyptic event that initially turned most of the world’s population into the undead, Mary’s village is the last standing refuge of humanity.

However, Mary dreams of more. She dreams of the stories that her mother told her about the ocean, which she hopes is true but struggles to imagine how such a vast amount of salty water could ever exist. Therefore, when the unthinkable happens and her village is breached by the undead. Mary get’s her chance to see what lies beyond the barriers that she has so desperately wanted to look past. However, sometimes the things you long for are not always what you want or what you hoped they would be. 

I do have to mention that on occasion Mary did get a tad annoying with her sometimes selfish moaning about life not being entirely fair and her indecision to decide who she loved. She was also at times a little self pitying, but all that being said I did warm to her. She is a feisty, determined and stubborn character, but not entirely, you could still feel her fear and vulnerability. By the end of the book I liked her a lot, she knew the dangers of her world but yet she still chose to face them head on and live her life.

There were some great characters in this book, even some of the smaller characters such as the overbearing Sister Tabitha, who wasn’t around all that much but had a big effect on Mary’s life. I really liked the parts of the book about the sisterhood, I was on the edge of my seat wishing Mary onwards, delving into the Sisterhoods secrets to find out what exactly was going on.

The only characters that I did think where maybe a tad two dimensional were the male leads, they were at times a bit stereotypically portrayed. Neither of them really had me swooning around after them and they needed a bit more of Mary’s backbone to go after what they wanted, rather than dragging their feet on one occasion to many.

Furthermore, there were also a few small details that I loved about this book, the chapters were all numbered using the roman numerical system. I won’t tell you why, but these numbers play an important role within the story and it is a nice link to include them as a chapter heading. It did take me a little while to get back into the swing of reading them quickly to find out exactly what chapter I was on.

The ending was written well, it did leave me wanting more and I was thrilled to find out that this was part of a series rather than a standalone book. There were a few unanswered questions and I desperately wanted to know what had happened to some of the characters, but overall I felt like it was a good ending.

Personally, I wasn’t taken with the cover of this book. I own the black hardback edition with the red flower and it just doesn’t really do much for me. I don’t necessarily pick books based on a cover alone, but lately there are just so many books with amazing cover designs that I do tend to pick those up first. 

Highly recommended.

GREAT- 8/10

Published by Gollancz (July 2009)
Hardback edition – 308 Pages (£9.99)
The series continues with – The dead tossed waves (released 2010) and then The dark and hollow places (released in hardback April 2011).


  1. Glad you liked this one- it's had some mixed reviews, but I've had it on order for AGES, and I think I'll like it. Great review!

  2. The title has always put me off this book too, I still haven't read it. But after your review, I think I might have to try it! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and thanks!

  3. I am so glad you liked it. I really want to read this one!!

  4. I just finished this one and loved it! Not a fan of this cover either though. :0)

  5. Great review! I totally get what you mean about mary. The author told me most people hate her aha! There's a review of this on my blog somewhere that my boyfriend wrote-it's quite amusing XD

  6. I'm glad that you liked it! Great review! This has been on my TBR list and I can't wait to go pick it up.
    Thanks for stopping by!
    The blogging community HAS been really great. I wouldn't have read half the books I did if it hadn't been for recommendations from other people.
    Happy reading.

  7. This was definitely a well written book! I just couldn't deal with the constant whinin and the fact that while running for her life she was so incredibly concerned about her crushes!

  8. I've never heard of this book before, but it sounds good. I might just have to add it to my ever-growing TBR.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. I'm now a follower here.

  9. I read this book a LONG time ago. When it had its original cover. I cried for DAYS after I read this. I still can't bring myself to read the second book, The Dead-Tossed Waves. One day, I will.

  10. The title actually hooked me in. The covers aren't that great though. This book depressed me. I like the second book even more. I have the third waiting on my bookshelf. Great review!

  11. Awesome review, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this book, I will definitely add it to my TBR list. I loved Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, so I think this is a good fit for me!


  12. Although Ive read good reviews about this one, I just can't see myself reading a book about the undead. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  13. Thanks for comment, means sooo much!

    Really god review... I want to read this book, I've heard so good compliments about it, :p I better buy it soon

  14. I've heard good things about this series. I can't wait to read it, though the whole Zombie thing kinda freaks me out.

    Following you back from Follow Friday.

  15. I've never seen this book before and I've never read a zombie book either (I've never seen one that looked even remotely interesting) but your review intrigues me. But I think I'll go ahead and pick up a copy of this and let it be my introduction to the, uh, "Unconsecrated." Yay!

    Also, I too noticed we have the same Shabbyblogs background. Some of them were so beautiful it was hard to decide which one to pick!

  16. I've heard a lot of great things about this trilogy... I definitely need to pick them up at some point. I've been ignoring them a bit as well because of the zombie thing, but I've been expanding the genres I read a bit more lately, so I think I'll have to put this on my short TBR list.


Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs images from the Through the Looking Glass kit by Irene Alexeeva