Annalisa's Reviews > The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
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Feb 15, 10

bookshelves: dystopia, young-adult, apocalypse, speculative, horror
Recommended to Annalisa by: Annie
Read from February 13 to 14, 2010

Creepy. It's a combination of The Giver and I Am Legend with a flair of The Village. I spend so much of the book trying to shake off the hopeless feeling that Mary would never escape the zombie apocalypse that it did its job creeping me out. There was a little too much of the zombies have a hold of her and their mouths are reaching for her and she closes her eyes and knows she's going to die and then someone saves her with no plausible way for either of them not be bitten, but it was still suspenseful and the world Ryan created very interesting.

My biggest complaint about the book is the writing--of course, isn't it always? :). You take a book written in first person and we're seeing more into Mary's head than the description of this world built to keep the zombies out, which really was very intriguing and we don't get enough of it. Then you write in present tense and the plot slows down, losing the ability to keep up the fast pace a horror novel requires. On top of that, Ryan felt the need to stop the dialogue after each sentence to tell us exactly what Mary was so obviously thinking and the story slows to a stand still. Sure zombies are creepy because they're slow but relentless, but I don't want the writing to mirror those traits.

Also, there were times when Ryan wanted to keep up the suspense so she's evasive with her details. I reread several scenes a couple of times trying to figure out exactly what happened, but at a loss to understand. I'd have to guess, often to find out later that I assumed the wrong thing. Like the almost kiss. There was way too much touching for there not to be kissing, so I thought I must have misunderstood the vague introduction to the scene, but no, I was supposed to believe that she was lying on top of him, his hands on her hips pulling him to her and they weren't kissing. I still don't think I understood exactly what happened in that scene. You can built suspense and still let your readers know what's going on.

And speaking of the love rectangle (is that what I should call it?), it got on my nerves. Not that it was there, that made the story interesting, but the back and forth of it. She likes Travis, she likes Harry, one likes her, than the other, no he likes Cass, who knows. It didn't really matter after awhile who ended up with whom; I just wanted the back and forth to end. For as much as she claimed she loved Travis, she did an awful lot of avoiding him when she had the chance to be alone with him. It seemed more like she lusted after Travis but could be herself with Harry. Ryan never justified Mary's love for Travis for me. I didn't see it build or grow, just a confession of it. For all that Ryan put me into Mary's thoughts, I should have had a better understanding of her feelings for the boys.

My favorite part of the book is when they're stuck in the house/platform with the constant moan of the zombies outside and no idea where to go or if there even is a where, so very reminiscent of what I enjoyed about I Am Legend. I wanted more interactions with Travis, more description of the world, more panic about time, but the creepy moaning zombies really captured the horror of the scene. The story was original, but there's too much saved in the nick of time and very slow writing for me to enjoy it like I could have.
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message 1: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Great review!


Hannah I totally agree with you on there being too much of "the zombies are about to get her..." Cut to her being freed somehow. To me it was Dawn of the Dead meets The Village...hahaha

BUT- the writing is what pulled me along. Completely. It was almost poetic in some cases and I would read paragraphs and sentences twice- just to hear them again. Did you read the other two books? I am guessing no? I just got the second one today!


Annalisa Hannah,
I hear the second one is better. I've gotten a synopsis so I know everything that happens. I rarely read sequels. I have to really like a book to do so.


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