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

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

“What are you doing?” I try to scream but my voice is too weak, too breathy. “Why are you doing this to me?” I hiccup as I try to draw in air. The Unconcecrated are so close. Everywhere I turn they are desperate for me, writhing against the fence.
Tears pour from my eyes, drip from my chin. “Please,” I whisper, slipping back to my hands and knees, crawling toward Sister Tabitha, grasping at her black tunic. “Please don’t leave me here.” I am like a child begging her mother.
“There is always a choice, Mary,” Sister Tabitha says to me, standing with her feet braced against the steps, the lower half of her body still concealed belowground. “It is what makes us human, what separates us from them.” (Chapter 4)
Read an excerpt from chapter 1.

Mary dreams of the ocean–a place her mother told her about but she has never seen. But surrounded by a forest full of the Unconcecrated who have an undying thirst for human blood, she can only imagine what the world outside the fences is like, can only wonder if her village really contains the last few remaining humans on earth.

While reading this book, I found myself pulled along by the same questions Mary has–I want to know if there are other people left in the world. I want to know if there could possibly be a place where the Unconcecrated don’t plague humans. And further from Mary’s questions, I wanted to know if there was some sort of cure out there. From the beginning, the strong desire for answers kept me reading.

Unfortunately, the characters themselves were often uninteresting to me. Until about halfway through the novel, I was unsatisfied with the romance. When I read, I want to be in love with the main character’s love interest, and in this case, I wasn’t. It was sexy, but shallow. However, at some point I realized that perhaps that was the point. Mary’s desire for Travis seemed to reflect the Unconcecrated’s desire for blood–it was just a need. She had to learn to actually love. After realizing this, I was able to put aside my disinterest in the romance and really appreciate Carrie Ryan’s craftsmanship in writing this story.

Ryan has some wonderfully horrific scenes that help to paint this rather hopeless world. I felt everything from revulsion to pity for the Unconcecrated. And while the world was hopeless, I didn’t close the book feeling depressed. Throughout the book, Mary works so hard to merely survive, but in the end I felt like she has found a way to live. I agree with Melissa Marr’s (Wicked Lovely) review; she says that opening this book “is like cracking Pandora’s box: a blur of darkness and a precious bit of hope pour out.”

*news about the forest of hands and teeth*

The sequel, The Dead-Tossed Waves, will be released next Tuesday, March 9th!

Follow Carrie Ryan on Twitter and Facebook.


Read the book & want to talk about your favorite scenes? Add your comments on my Book Discussion page.

Thanks to Cherylynne from Critiquing the World
for letting me borrow your formatting for reviews.

About Karen Krueger

I write for teens when I'm not chasing after two cute kids. I love to sing and eat cereal (though not at the same time), and I most certainly am not a vampire because I'm addicted to sunshine.
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4 Responses to Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

  1. Suey says:

    This wasn’t one of my most favorites either, and for the same reasons you listed. I never felt very connected. But, even so, I bet I’ll be reading the sequel. It left me too much hanging not to!

  2. Yeah, I’ll definitely be reading the sequel too. It’s not about Mary, though. It’s about some new girl. I hope I can connect with the characters a little more.

  3. Pingback: Book Review: The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan « Typing with My Toes

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