Katyana's Reviews > The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
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's review
Sep 18, 10

bookshelves: fiction, zombies, series, post-apocalyptic
Read in March, 2010

This book is scary, intense, frustrating and heart-breaking. It takes place generations after the zombie apocalypse, and almost everyone from Mary's village has forgotten all the stories of the world outside their fence, of the time Before. Only Mary yearns for something more than the small village; it seems only Mary still hopes for a life that is more than just surviving. This story is intense and at times horrific, as you, with Mary, are left bereft of everything but Mary's precious sliver of hope, hope that there must be something out there beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth. And the story is a rough ride for the reader, as Mary sacrifices everything to pursue that hope. Even at the end, you can't help but wonder, as Mary must, if it was worth it. What is the value of hope? How much are you willing to spend, to feed it? In the end, Mary chooses to spend everything, deciding, I think, that if she's wrong, then its not a world she cares to live in. A book that is tough, and thought-provoking. Very definitely worth a read.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Why did it frustrate you?

Katyana Well, hmm. Part of it was seeing the general de-evolution of society. In this book, they have largely reverted to the middle ages; they are ruled in dictatorship fashion by the Church, who does not hesitate to do away with people who would disrupt The Way Things Must Be. (As a side note, though, that made for an interesting tweaked-historical flavor to the setting.)

It was also seeing characters you care about make decisions you wish they wouldn't. As I said in my review, I really feel that Mary has decided that if this is the way the world truly is, then she doesn't care to live in it anymore. She's not stupid, she's hopeful. But it is a weird dichotomy of suicidally hopeful. She takes tremendous risks.

There's also a bit of a love triangle, which always adds its own layer of frustration.

But I don't recall being frustrated because the central characters were stupid. It wasn't like that. Just... it was an emotionally difficult read. I remember crying my eyes out at several points.

I have The Dead-Tossed Waves here on my TBR shelf. I have been meaning to start it. I just have to be in the mood for a cry-book, and since the first one was that, I am proceeding cautiously with the second. Soon, though. :)

message 3: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Good, good. None of that sounds like it's the type of frustration that would bother me.

Katyana I know people have trouble with Mary, too, so I should probably give you fair warning. She definitely IS selfish. And while, at times, I found it irritating... I couldn't totally hate her for it. Life in her world is so incredibly oppressive, I can't begrudge her holding onto hope, and doing what she needed to do for that. She makes a lot of decisions based on what she needs, though, without a lot of thought for the people with her. Glancing through reviews, a lot of people took that poorly.

Though I'd argue that before the "crisis" stage of the book, all these characters that apparently Mary should show more care towards didn't care much about her. She was left utterly on her own, to fend for herself, so again, I don't begrudge her selfishness necessarily. Though ... well, let's just say parts of the book were heartbreaking. I don't want to give anything away.

message 5: by Catherine (new)

Catherine You've made me very curious. :)

Katyana It is worth checking out, imo. But I love suspense, and have a bit of a weakness for zombie stuff too. :D

Though seriously, if you read it, have kleenex handy. :(

message 7: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Well, I've added it, so we'll see how I feel about it.

Katyana Yay!

The Holy Terror I loved this book! I actually have a signed copy of the second one, I should read it ...

Wicked Incognito Now I liked this book a lot, but I also found it frustrating, not because I think Mary is selfish though---but because everyone seems to blame Mary for everything. I don't believe anything that happened was her fault, and what else were the others going to do besides accompany her? Stay? Their situation would not have improved and Mary didn't coerce them into doing anything!!! So why was there the constant undertone of---this is all Mary's fault? I don't get it.

Also, why do other readers think she's selfish? I'm not sure how any of her actions could've been played differently.

AND--I can't remember the brothers' names, but I don't get why they had to make things so complicated. First one rejects her, and then she's forced to live in the convent? Then the first wants her again, but the other already asked her to marry him, and then she gets rejected by the first guy again....all nonsense.

AND--there were a lot of unanswered questions about that convent and their practices. Which was another element of frustrating.

But, basically, a very interesting and readable story. I tore through it in less than a day.

Katyana I don't know that I agree that the love triangle was nonsense. I thought it was a pretty heartbreaking dilemma... like the summary says, do you go with the one you love, or the one who loves you?

I don't know why so many people really seemed to be rubbed wrong by Mary, but it is a relatively constant comment in the reviews I skimmed through yesterday. Like I said, I didn't really have a problem with her. And I agree with you, I don't know how else she could have chosen, in a lot of circumstances.

I didn't mind the unanswered questions about the convent and their practices, mostly because I thought the author was trying to keep the religious element of it somewhat nebulous. For me, it worked just being set up as a medieval-style Authority - they do shady things to maintain their authority, and prefer to keep people as in the dark as possible when it comes to the way the world really works. I think most of what they were doing was trying to blot out the memory of the way the world used to be. Obliterate hope that it could ever be anything different. I pity a lot of the sisters, because they weren't overtly evil... just hopeless. I think most of them functioned from a standpoint of "it's only a matter of time before we are overrun and all die"... which would be an awful way to live. There were only a few that seemed to be actively working to keep the village status quo.

Anyway, shouldn't get into too much detail, because I don't want to spoil anyone. But yeah, like you, I think I burned through it in a day. It was fun!

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