When I first saw this book the title immediately intrigued me. Later on, I heard that The Forest of Hands and Teeth is about zombies. This turned me away since I've never cared much for the idea of zombies. If this fact also makes you want to stray from reading this, do not let it. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is scary and sophisticated.
In The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the world has turned horrifying. A small fenced-in village lies in the midst of the Forest and it is dominated by the ideals of the Sisterhood. Mary can only dream of life outside the Forest, for she has been told that they are the last of humankind, that only the Unconsecrated lurk in the Forest outside of the fences, trying to get in and kill off the rest of them. Still, Mary questions the Sisterhood as she makes a few discoveries about them and the outside world, which she refuses to believe is nonexistent.
Mary is quite unhappy with this confusion as well as the confusion of having two men in love with her. But when the Unconsecrated manage to slip through the fences, pandemonium spreads, and everything Mary believes is tested as she strives to survive.
Wow. That word pretty much sums up this reading experience. This is a gripping page turner that is both suspenseful and sad. It's kind of a combination of The Village and Clive Barker's The Plague, only done much better and will appeal to much more people.
From the very first page I knew that this novel is darkly and wonderfully well-written. It was so epicly beautiful and really fit the storyline and situations throughout the entire book. I can't stress the practically perfect writing enough! Carrie Ryan is an artist with words! It's part of the reason why I love this book so much!
The Forest of Hands and Teeth had an effect that I don't recall ever experiencing while reading... I actually got scared. And I don't scare easily. But the Unconsecreated never rest, and I kept jumping at noises I heard while reading and had eerie dreams if I read too late into the night. The general setting kind of creeped me out even though I loved it (I'm a fan of forests), and it's all because of the Unconsecrated.
Everything in this book is so different than others I've read. Although it's dystopian, it feels more like you're going backwards in time by the way the community functions under the Sisterhood. (Might I add, the Sisterhood also scared me!) Even the love theme was atypical. It isn't a typical love triangle, it's more of a love square, but it's not always the most evident thing in the storyline. It seems that Mary knew who she wanted, but the question of what was more important hung with her: Fulfiling her childhood dreams and her curiosity, or love? I've never read about this sort of thing before since in most books nowadays love isn't questioned unless there's more than one man involved. I'm happy for this refreshing change of feel, and it fits Mary's character and showed that she really valued exploration. She's is a curious wanderer surrounded by tragedy, and I felt for her.
The ending was satisfying, but I'm still anxious for more! I recommend this frightening apocalyptic tale to just about anyone... Go buy it and read it NOW!
Ryan, Carrie. The Forest of Hands and Teeth
London: Gollancz (imprint of Orion Publishing Group)