Zoë Marriott's Reviews > The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
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Aug 02, 10

Read from August 01 to 02, 2010

** spoiler alert ** This is a really difficult book to review because, while it was compelling, beautifully written and full of interesting thoughts and ideas, it still wasn't quite for me. By which I mean, I'm glad I read it, I enjoyed it, I was deeply moved by it - but I can't imagine that I'd want to read it again, or that I'll be making any special effort to find the next one in the series.

Things I liked:

The strong voice, which was evocative and lyrical - and gave a perfect sense of setting and tone - without being *too* formal or poetic. Mary's narration, her constant yearning to find freedom and the ocean, her unwavering (if slightly puzzling) devotion to Travis, who is (hurrah!) not a soulmate vampire or werewolf but just a mortal man, were all beautiful and moving.

Carrie Ryan did such a skillful job of creating a sense of constant, barely stifled fear and menace that after reading a few pages before bed I couldn't sleep thinking about it. That hasn't happened to me since I saw The Ring for the first time!

Another good thing was that Mary was not always a perfectly sympathetic character. I applaud the author for her bravery in allowing that, and letting Mary grow through selfishness and mistakes as well as bravery and love. Great stuff.

Things I didn't like:

Some of the characterisation in the supporting cast - Jed, Travis, Harry, Sister Tabitha - felt a bit...wonky. I can't quite put my finger on it except to say that everyone always seemed to act in such a way as to maximise the heroine's anguish without necessarily acting in their own best interests. Unless someone is actively evil, usually the damage they do is unthinking and accidental. Not a huge problem, just made me frown a time or two while reading.

Another thing that made me feel the cold creep of cynicism was (without getting too spoilery) Jed's actions at the end and what eventually happened to him. I feel as if a more gradual closening in their relationship would have been more realistic. His charging after her at the last moment and then that final event? Felt less *necessary* to the story and more like the author trying to wring the last drop of angst from the reader. Despite the unrelenting bleakness of Mary's world, it just seemed like TOO MUCH bad luck (especially as Mary kept escaping from impossible situations unscathed).

Plot Holes:

Who the heck built this huge network of chainlink fences, full of twists and turns and dead ends? And why? How did they have the time, with the hoardes of Unconsecrated coming for them? I kept expecting to get some explanation for this, but although the author may know the answer, we never got a hint.

How is it possible that only the bite of the Unconsecrated infects? If the virus is in their saliva it ought to be in their blood too, therefore when Mary gets clawed and scratched and covered in infected blood, she ought to be infected too. This unthinking 'bite only' thing feels vaguely reminiscent of vampire/werewolf lore, and rather out of place in a story that makes it clear the zombie apocalypse came about through the meddling of scientists.

Anyway, the above quibbles aside, I was thoroughly impressed by Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and would certainly recommend it to others.
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Quotes Zoë Liked

Carrie Ryan
“I want to sleep, I want dreams to pull me from this world and make me forget. To stop the memories from swirling around me. To put an end to this ache that consumes me.”
Carrie Ryan, The Forest of Hands and Teeth


Reading Progress

08/01/2010 page 7
3.0% "Captured by the strong first person voice of the main character, but struggling with the present tense a little."
08/01/2010 page 75
31.0% "Absolutely engrossed. Could barely sleep last night thinking about it!"

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Sierra Randall I know what you mean about Jed. His demise seemed a bit too sudden.


Zoë Marriott Oh, good - thanks. I just found it one tragedy too far; I know the author was creating a dark, bleak world, but she lets Mary constantly rush into danger and have waves of the Unconsecrated sweep over her, yet Mary always survives without serious injury or bites. If Mary can do it, why does everyone else always have to die? Especially when they should really be safe, like Jed.


CeCe I have to agree with you. The book was dark and dreary and it was written really well, but when I did finish I was left wanting something more and not in a good way. I really wanted to love this book but I can say that I won't be going out to the store anytime soon to buy the second one.


Sierra Randall Yeah :'( But it was still such a good book. The second one was really good as well. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first book.


Zoë Marriott Celene and Sierra - I think you're BOTH right. The book really was beautifully written, and 'good' by any objective measure of quality. But, like you Celene, I feel no craving to read The Dead Tossed Waves.


CeCe Yeah. It's disapointing.


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