Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review of The Forest of Hands and Teeth

In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But, slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future - between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

[from Goodreads]
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience: Dystopian fans, readers who enjoy immersing themselves in another world
High point: The writing
Low point: The ending
Reader maturity: 13+

Before I begin, please note the rating, 4.5 out of 5. The Forest of Hands and Teeth was a really, really good book. I didn't like it.

Let me explain. The writing was phenomenal. I thought I wasn't into the book until I realized that I couldn't get Mary's plight out of my head, and then I found myself so drawn into her pain and trials that I hurt inside, physically, for several hours after reading. It grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Carrie Ryan did an amazing job of making the Return and the Unconsecrated startlingly real, skillfully pulling the reader in for the ride. And the ending? It's a great literary ending, poignantly bringing the story to a close. And I hate it!

[SPOILER] I much prefer happy endings! I don't like hopeful endings! I want everything to be neatly tied together at the end. [END SPOILER]

The characters experience true growth during the novel, including all the ups and downs that go along with the natural maturing process. The background of the novel, including the Forest of Hands and Teeth and the Sisterhood, were appropriately eerie. The author did a great job of hinting at descriptions, allowing a creative imagination to devise an appropriately creepy setting. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is both character and action driven, and both are perfectly balanced. With every choice Mary makes, the reader feels just as confused or trapped as she does. The relationships between the characters are complex and unwieldy, easily thrown off-kilter by the rapidly changing situations.

From a review standpoint, the ending was brilliant and perfect, but the reader in me didn't like it much. I didn't like this book. I didn't like the ending; I didn't like the pain, but...I will definitely be reading it again. I highly recommend it. It's outstanding. I'm pre-ordering the sequel, and you should definitely pick it up.

Title:  The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author:  Carrie Ryan
Genre:  Teen Fiction, Horror & Suspense
Year:  2009
Book Source:  Purchased


  1. I think the sequel is better. This book was really good, but I didn't like the characters for some reason. Except for Jacob. He made me smile.

  2. Haha; this is the most contradictory review I've ever read! ( :

    Anyway, I'll read it!