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The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Forest of Hands and Teeth Series #1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

14 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

Reviewed by Ashley B for TeensReadToo.com

Mary lives in a village surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

The Unconsecrated fill the forest, moaning, trying to get into the village, to devour and make more of their own by a single bite, which will spread the infection. They don't give up. They wa...
Mary lives in a village surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

The Unconsecrated fill the forest, moaning, trying to get into the village, to devour and make more of their own by a single bite, which will spread the infection. They don't give up. They want to feed.

The Sisterhood holds the secrets of the village, from before the Return. No one knows the truth, except them.

The Guardians protect the village, and make sure the fence holds back the Unconsecrated. The fence is the only barrier between the village and the Forest.

But then, once Mary is forced into the Sisterhood, she learns things that she wishes she hadn't. There is the one section of the fence, which is forbidden; but, it leads somewhere... Mary knows it. But where does it lead?

Mary must choose between her village and what may or may not exist beyond that one gate.

I really enjoyed this book. I was hooked as soon as I started. Mary was a great character. She was strong, and always wanted more than what she had. She kind of reminded me of myself (only a little, though!).

The only thing I didn't like in the story was the ending, only because I wanted to know more! It left me hanging a little, so I don't really know what will happen to Mary.

When THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH comes out in March 2009, I recommend it to everyone. You'll enjoy it. I hope Carrie Ryan writes more books, too - her writing was amazing!

posted by TeensReadToo on December 11, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

24 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

Forest of Hands and Teeth

Mary's life has always been simple: protect your family, follow the Sisterhood, and stay away from the Unconsecrated in the Forest of Hands and Teeth. This is the only life she's ever known: a village surrounded by fences with the large Cathedral dominating every day li...
Mary's life has always been simple: protect your family, follow the Sisterhood, and stay away from the Unconsecrated in the Forest of Hands and Teeth. This is the only life she's ever known: a village surrounded by fences with the large Cathedral dominating every day life. But Mary's mother always told her stories of the ocean and Mary is sure there must be something outside of their tiny village. After the fence is unexpectedly breached and the town is overrun with Unconsecrated, Mary flees with her brother and his wife and her childhood friends Cass, Harry and Travis through a series of gates without any clue as to where they will lead.

Let me start by saying how much I enjoyed Carrie Ryan's writing style: it is filled with beautiful descriptions (including a lovely title) and has a wonderful ebb and flow of action. I also thought her world building was pretty solid and full of interesting ideas - the whole idea of how the village establishes its own customs and religious ideals intrigues me. That said, I could not stand the character of Mary - or really any of the others for that matter. She seemed selfish, immature and seemingly incapable of the love the author keeps telling you she possesses. None of the characters were developed adequately for my tastes and consequently I never understood why she loved Travis so much or why others were drawn to her. Over and over again everyone asks Mary what will make her happy - I got so sick of that question by the end. Mostly because Mary proved time and again that whatever she felt like would make her happy would occur no matter the cost to anyone else. Yuck.
seemichelleread.blogspot.com

posted by SeeMichelleRead on July 16, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2009

    not for me.

    There are some writers who use violence to communicate powerful messages about society. A prominent example of violence and gore done right can be found in books like The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Flies, and the short stories of Kelly Link. The Forrest of Hands and Teeth, however, roots itself in gratuitous gore and endless (bordering on obnoxious) violence. This story could have been better communicated, I think, in the form of a looming threat, or presence, than in chapters littered with beheadings. Fortunately, none of the characters were so interesting I minded when they got sacked. Mary's endless yammering about the ocean was also a little bit too contrived for me. Also, Mary is so self-centered I'm not sure how she convinces anyone to go along with her plan to see the ocean. The end of this book is unsatisfying as well, not because it's an unhappy ending (though, to be sure, this is quite an unhappy ending) but because it was so predictable. If you've seen M. Night Shymalan's The Village, and pretty much any zombie movie ever made, then this book will feel redundant. Themes like love, longing, coming of age, etc., are lost in an ocean of salivating zombies. Excuse me, in an ocean of the "unconsecrated". As a middle school girl (and even a high school girl), the imagery in this book would have given me nightmares. I like it when a book leaves me awake at night thinking about characters and themes. This one leaves you awake at night because it was so violent for no real reason. This was a major let down for me. The one positive I found is that, at times, Carrie Ryan's voice felt unique. I won't be reading any more of her novels in regards to this series, but I would be willing to try other books written by her in the future. However, I wish I'd known more about it before I bought it, as it was a waste of money for me. I would recommend borrowing this book before you buy it. I would definitely not recommend it for younger readers (sometimes I see this book marketed as "a love story". Trust me when I say any semblance of romance is secondary to mass amounts of gore and whiny characters.)

    14 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good idea although unoriginal. Ruined by god awful characters and bad writing.

    The characters in this story are completely stereotypical. The handsome boy that the female lead falls for, the childhood friend who secretly loves the female lead and the weak willed best friend who will end up betraying her best friend becuase she is driven mad by jealously. The chracters in this book made me sick the female lead repeatedly made the stupidest decisions for love and refused to see logic in anything and was way to emotionally attached to trivial things. The author tried to instill emotional depth into the story but it feels forced especially after she continues to kill off one chracter after another in basically the same way each time. The author also tried to make a strong independent female lead but she failed miserably. She is horribly indesicive and oftentimes is unable to do anything without being strengthend by the love that she feels for Travis, a love that make basically no sense as they dont even talk to each other for most of the book. Oh wait that's supposed to be true instantaneous love that has no explanation and makes no sense. All in all decent story but the characters were atrocious and what was supposed to be a emotionally driven story was weak and uninteresting.

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Disappointing Dystopia

    I am a big fan of young adult dystopian novels. I've read a lot of them, and I was excited to read The Forest of Hands and Teeth because I heard it was a good one. Unfortunately, I was in for a surprise. I found this novel to be boring and lacking in realistic character development. Moreover, the writing style just didn't speak to me.

    The premise of this book is that the apocolypse already happened on Earth and it was brought about by the creation of zombies. Mary lives in a village that holds the last of humankind. The village is protected from the Forest of Hands and Teeth by a fence that the Gaurdians- selected men of the village- maintain. The Forest is where the zombies reside and are trying to come in from, and it is all that's left of the outside world. Mary comes to realize that the fence not only effectively keeps out the the zombies but traps everyone in her village in a limited world. When she becomes an apprentice to the Sisterhood- the group of women who run the village- she finds out that these women keep secrets and there's more to the outside world than she's been led to believe.

    I read two-thirds of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and I confess to skimming the rest. The story developed painfully slowly and by the time things started to happen I wasn't invested. Mary was a heroine who annoyed me. During perilious situations with life or death consequences she was constantly whining in her narration about her romantic problems. She proved herself to be selfish again and again, only caring about what would make her happy and disregarding others' feelings. The love triangle present in the story took up too much time in this book that was supposedly a postapocalyptic tale and the romance was emphasized more than the dangers of the flesh eating zombies. If you're looking for a good futuristic story, skip this one. I would recommend Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games Trilogy or Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2011

    Theres really nothing to like about this book :( :(

    I hated this book. The main character, Mary was weak, selfish and dramatic. In the beggining of this book mary and her friends have to run away from their village becuz it is gettining attacked by zombies. When marys brother tells her that his wife got bitten she goes all drama on him and yells that he has to kill her. And when he finally does shes happy that shes dead. Even tho i HATED mary all.the characters loved her amd died for her. Three people die for her by the end of the story!!!! When the group reaches a path that mary thinks will help them find the ocean she goes by herself (and with her brother who dies.) She ends up finding the ocean but shes not even happy about it shes basically is emotionless cuz shes not even mourning her friends and her brothers death. No offense to the people who liked this book but i thought it was one of the books that i think i would lead a happier life not reading it. I love distopian books but this was terrible. I reccomed Matched by ally condie, divergent by veronica roth, the hunger games by susan collins, uglies by scott westerfeld, delirium by lauren oliver, and witched and wizard by james patterson. I absolutely hated this book. I cant help but think about how bad it was all the time. I wish i could rewind time and tell myself not to read it. I DO NOT RECCOMEND THIS BOOK!!!! i read it a couple weeks ago but i keep having nightmers about it!!!! Not a good distopian!

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014

    READ NOW BEFORE YOU BUY!

    I enjoy reading. Books like The Giver,Divergent, and Maximum Ride all, in my opinion, are wonderfully constructed and are high up there on my list. So now you can see that im not a book critic or some crazy lunitac just looking to release my anger by hating on a random book. But this book is extremely bad. I read the summary on the back cover and was instantly filled with thoughts of an exciting adventurous book with a tinge of romance. WRONG. What i got instead was indead a great plot, but it had fallen into the hands.of the wrong author who twisted the.story, ruined the characters, and turned the whole thing into a underdeceloped childrens story. Mary, the maim character, falls in love with-ugh i dont even know where to start. The author tried too hard to make an interesting love triangle with mary, where in reality mary would not have any friends. Her only dream is to see the ocean, and she goes to terrifying, mind bending lengths to pursue it. By this i mean she kills off the love of her life, her loving mom, and her only brother. I mean seriously, by the time she reaches the "ocean" (filled with throngs of the undead and severed heads) she has no one. Guess shell just make sand castles by herselves while the unconsecrated eat her flesh. Anyway im not going to bore everyone to death rambling on and on about why this book should not be read. So take it imto your own hands whether you want to read it. And if you do, well, good luck.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014

    Please read before buying!!!!

    This book constantly contridicts itself, gives off no emotion and does not have good character development. Mary is not a likeable character at all and causes destruction chasing her selfish wants. The author also has a tendancy to not give details in some parts and give too many in others. For example, her brother is described in great detail spitting on the ground, while she describes months in no detail in one sentance. Also, some parts of the story make you wonder why they even happened. For example, the main character walks into a house sees an unconsecrated (zombie) baby, cradles it and wraps it in a blanket, and then throws it out the window. Whhhhyyyyy??!?!? To make it worse, the romance it completely unexplained and has no reason behind it whatsoever. Overall, there are a bunch of events in the book that don't lead up to the ending at all. I understand that there are other books after it, but nothing was acheived the entire book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2012

    Not good

    Not good

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    Meh

    I anticipated much more from this book. The thoughts of the main character jump so much that you wonder if the author just forgot what she last wrote, some of the descriptions used are down right absurd--I'm not quite sure what sunshine/beams smell like. There are also huge leaps where there's a potential threat to the characters and you feel like panic would be an appropriate reaction but they quickly turn romantic and the threat is ignore and acknowledged after a paragraph or even a page of romantic gibberish. I felt no connection with the main character, the pace was set too fast. For those anticipating more action with the romance played down, think again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2013

    Really wanted to like it...

    I felt like the story never moved and the characters never evolved. The characters barely interact with each other. There is no dialogue at all. It was very odd. I never understood the love triangle because neither Harry or Travis developed as characters. All the makings of a good story...zombies....love triangles....escaping from a cult like society....but the author did nothing with that. Very disappointing. I only finished reading it because I paid for it and did not want to waste my money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    Not enough zombies

    This book didnt really live up to what i expected it to be. I thought it would be about killing zombies and escaping but the book focused more on romance between the characters. If you're a guy then i really dont reccomend this book. Its honestly more romance than zombies

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2012

    Dissapointed.

    This is the most dissapointed book I have ever read. The book was badly written in my opinion and I hated the character Mary. She was so selfish and annoying throughout the book. I wouldn't reccomend this book at all.

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  • Posted November 7, 2012

    I could not get into this story. I stuck it out and read the who

    I could not get into this story. I stuck it out and read the whole book but in the end was very disappointed. I do not mind blood and guts, but this writing style did not appeal to me, but i would recommend reading the sample first and then make your own decision.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2012

    This is a legit image in the book: the main character, Mary, who

    This is a legit image in the book: the main character, Mary, who has limited food and water and no where to go, is playing with the pinky of a zombie that is reaching for her through a fence. I am not joking. This is only one of many stupid scenes in this book. Another scene which is on page 191, the last page I read of this book, there is a zombie baby and she decides to wrap it up and cradle it. Again, I am not making this up. This is by far the worst book I have ever read. The post apocalyptic survival portion of this book is totally ruined by the characters lack of common sense. You would think a society that has been forced to deal with zombies would be very realistic and straight forward. That isn't the case here. Apparently all the main characters have the mindset of middle schoolers and all they care about is who does so and so like. I didn't realize this book was manly a romance, but even reviewing the book on the romance elements, it is crap. I have only read two romances, Great Expectations (which barely counts) and Pride and Prejudice. All I know is at the end of Pride and Prejudice, all I wanted was to see Mr Darci and Elizabeth together. From page 2, I wanted Mary dead. One of the lines from this book went something like this, "Our faces were so close, our lips almost touching, we sat there just taking in each others breath." If you simple garbage like that, you are in luck! Side note: she describes feeling weak and unable to support herself a lot. Oh and the main characters spends half her time crying, There is a lot of descriptive parts in this book how her tears feel upon poor Mary's face.

    If you have any sense, don't buy this book. If you are a middle school girl who also enjoys Twilight and other poorly written books that will never win a Pulitzer, then this is up your alley!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2012

    ?

    Is it really all that bad, I mean with the blood and guts? Do u think a 12 year old should read it?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2012

    The worst.

    I love YA fiction. I adore zombies. I thought that this triology would be a perfect fit, but sadly, no. This is one of the worst books I have ever read. The entire plot is borrowed from somewhere else ("The Village," "28 Days Later" and so on), nothing fresh or new added to the genre. Furthermore, the characters are a total snooze and completely lacking any real depth. Seriously, one of the worst books I have ever read. EVER.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2011

    Ughhh

    I want to kick Mary in the head. Shes ungreatful, selfish, naive, and stupid. Horrible characteristics.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not what I had in mind

    I was always the person to judge a book by its cover. The moment I saw this book, I thought, "Whoa, this might be interesting!" NOT EVEN CLOSE!! So disappointing! The entire time I was waiting for something to happen! Maybe some fighting scenes were pretty crazy, but it was not worth my time. I understand if others are into books that take forever to come up with one good scene, but I am certainly not that person.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    Dudee?????

    Could you guys please put a "spoiler alert" before you give a away every ecxiting part and suprise to the book. I read this book and honestly it might have been good if I didnt kniw exzactly what was going to happen. Seriously be consideret. -_-

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2011

    Cringe-worthy

    This book was probably one of my least favorite books that I have ever read. The begining started off good, fantastic even the first paragraph drew me in. The first 1/3 of this book or so was good. Then suddenly everything changes and you are left with a bunch of unanswered questions. I realize this book is a part of a series but absolutely nothing feels as if it is resolved. I hated the characters they were flat and there was no character development whatsoever. The characters hardly ever seem to interact,and I never could understand why the main character was so in love with Travis it felt like she just randomly declared that she loved him. She certainly did not act like she loved him, or anyone for that matter I found her to be extremely selfish and willing to risk anyone's life for her own desires and putting her self above everyone else. Also the first person narration bothered me immensely. It is sad because if the author had kept the story more about the secrets the sisterhood were hiding it could have been an interesting read. Overall I would recommend that no one reads this book it is truly and honestly terrible, and I am not harsh when it comes to books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2010

    Disapointing

    The book was okay. I expected more from it. To many things in this book just didn't add up right stupid things. Its a nice idea but was poorly written and had no point to the story. I will not be reading the next book thats for sure if it is anything like this one.

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