Thursday, January 12, 2012

YA Fiction - The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Series: The Forest of Hands and Teeth #1
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date: 2009
Format: paperback
Acquired: won in a blog giveaway
Read: because Carrie Ryan was at a local book signing
Pages: 308
Reading time: two days

From GoodReads: 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?

My review: I really wanted to love The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I've heard great things about it, it's one of the earliest of the bestselling YA sci-fi novels, and it's a post-apocalyptic story. What's not to like? A lot of things, I unfortunately discovered.

I never caught on to the romance. After hearing Carrie Ryan discuss her earlier writings - romance novels - I could see this style coming through in The Forest of Hands and Teeth. The romance between Mary and Travis seems to be described mostly physically (nothing too PG-13, though), and I could never really relate to it or see them as a lasting couple. To my eyes, Mary's love for Travis just came out of the blue, and the two characters and their bond seemed underdeveloped. Mary herself came off as just selfish and self-absorbed at several points.

The post-zombie apocalypse world, however, was fascinating. I loved the "Village"-esque feel of Mary's community. It came closer than most other YA dystopias of delving into some deeper implications of society's reaction to bad events and subsequent reconstructions. I would have absolutely loved to have learned more about the Sisterhood and the Guardians and the village's pre-apocalypse history. Also, the plot was fast-paced and is what kept me interested and reading. After all, zombies are practically designed to make for exciting books.

I'm still unsure yet as to whether or not this post-apocalyptic world enthralled me enough to keep reading the series. I was thinking yes, until I read the first chapter of the next book - it seemed like just more of the same-old underdeveloped characters and romance. What do you think? Should I continue with the second and third books?


  1. Zombies and weak & cheesy romance? Ugh! I'm glad I chose to skip this one! Nice review!

  2. I had bought this book after hearing really great things about it but I didn't get too far into it before losing all interest in the story. It was mostly the writing style that bugged me though I'm not a big zombie fan in the first place and my hopes that this book might changed my mind were quickly dashed.

  3. I had the same feelings about the post-apocalyptic world - I was absolutely entranced by/interested in it. I think the second book improves on the first book but from memory, I think the romance angle was quite similar to the first. It's the same reason I haven't read the third book - I heard there was another love triangle.