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

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan Book Cover

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Cover of The Forest of Hands and Teeth
3 Stars

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Series: The Forest of Hands and Teeth #1
Genre: Horror, Dystopia
Audience: Young Adult
Format: E-book

My Synopsis:

Mary’s village is a small outpost against The Unconsecrated, the restless dead who will stop at nothing to enter the fences and feed on the living. As far as the villagers know, they’re the last vestiges of humanity left in the world. But Mary wonders. She grew up on her mom’s stories, passed down through generations, of a place called The Ocean, where there’s nothing but water as far as the eye can see. Surely such a place would be free of The Unconsecrated? Mary longs to search for it but she doesn’t know how to even begin when she’s surrounded by The Unconsecrated and strictly governed by the religious Sisters.

My Review:

I’m a little out of practice with my reviews, but I’m having a hard time putting my feelings about this book into words. On the one hand, I would actually love to see this as a movie, filmed in the style of Schindler’s List. The world is bleak but lends itself well to the unexpected pops of color I remember from Spielberg’s movie. On the other hand, I just didn’t care for Mary.

Mary feels like a hugely unreliable narrator. The book is written from her first person point of view and her actions still feel like they come out of nowhere. Does she live that much in the moment? Is she that much a creature of instinct? Whatever the case, she’s very antithetical to my own more cautious, more thoughtful nature and she drove me up the wall. She would j ust suddenly be screaming or crying or doing something that I thought was ridiculously stupid and putting herself and others in danger and I would just be sitting there like, WTH? Glad I don’t have to deal with her crazy ass.

Part of my problem is that I felt shoved into this world with no context. I’m a fantasy reader; I’m willing to suspend disbelief and roll with the world that I find myself in. I don’t need things spelled out in short syllables, but I would like to understand some things, at least in context. I just kept asking more and more questions and never got any answers. To be fair, Mary herself doesn’t understand much of what’s going on. Her village is her entire world. She doesn’t have many answers. She’s so far in the future after whatever event created The Unconsecrated that she doesn’t question their existence at all. I get that. But throw me a bone and give me at least a sentence or two about the history of The Sisters or The Guardians. Maybe Mary doesn’t know that either? History with its emphasis on facts might interfere with the mythology of The Sisters? But I don’t know their mythology either. They’re just a group of women who rule the village and who feel pretty sinister for reasons that I don’t have access to.

I might continue the series if I find myself in the mood for some sort of spooky read around Halloween, but I don’t think I’ll actively seek out the other books. Readers who are more willing to put in time now for an explanation that may or may not be coming in future books will probably enjoy this more than I did.

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I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in beautiful Asheville, NC. I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase merchandise through links on my site.

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