Review of “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan



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 by so much death?


This is a super difficult review to write without spoiling anything, but I will do my best. It’s also difficult to write because this book wreaked havoc on my emotions. Yes, I actually got my heart broken by a zombie book. lol

First of all, I found this book in my library and I absolutely fell in love with the cover! It is so creepy yet beautiful! I swear I didn’t even read the blurb when I checked it out. I just had to have it based solely on the cover.

Once I had it, I dared to look at the reviews and was surprised to find a lot of people WTFing over it. lol They basically said they loved the book UNTIL it got to the ending and that it ruined it for them.

I, for one, LOVE unconventional endings. One of my favorite endings is the one in Gone Girl. I’m sure we’ve all heard of the uproar that came from readers or people who watched the movie and deeply disliked the ending. Another book with a crazy ending is Mud Vein – I loved it, but not everybody felt the same. So, I went into this book with an open mind hoping that I would be one of the few who enjoyed the ending.

This book focuses on the same group of people who are either related or have known each other their entire lives. They try their best to survive in a world that is surrounded by death.

The main POV comes from Mary. Mary is a young teenaged girl who has grown up in a village that has a somewhat oppressive establishment. You have to get married to whomever decides to speak for you (could be a totally random boy in the village) or join the sisterhood of nuns. They don’t believe much in marrying someone you love. The point of bringing two people together is to procreate and help bring humanity back from the brink of extinction. The problem is that Mary dreams of so much more. Of a life where she is free to have her own beliefs and free to love whom she pleases much to the dismay of those around her who believe she should just accept the hand she has been dealt.

Jed is her brother, Cass is her best friend, Travis and Harry are brothers who just so happen to be both strongly attracted to Mary. Some other key characters are the unconsecrated. They are people who have long since died, but returned to roam the earth in search of appeasing their appetite for human flesh.

If you’re worried about a love triangle, there really isn’t much of one and you’ll see what I mean if you read the book.

There are many different things that I loved about this novel:

  • It is fast-paced
  • It is absolutely enthralling and hard to put down
  • The characters are diverse and you can’t help but care for them all
  • There is plenty of action
  • It has a somewhat unique premise. This is a post-apocalyptic world that has been in that state for decades (if not centuries) with no sign of stopping anytime soon.

So now we get to the ending. Did I love it or did I hate it? I actually have a love/hate reaction to it. I’m wavering back and forth on that. I loved it because it leaves us with the same suspense that the character felt. The same sense of confusion and wonder. It really makes you feel what the character is feeling.

On the other hand, there were so many questions that were left unanswered. If you are hoping for a happily ever after, you will be sorely disappointed as there isn’t one. If you are hoping for a resolution to their problems, once again you will not get it. You will be left with more questions than answers and judging by the blurbs of the other books in the series, you may not ever get the answers you seek.

This novel has hope and beautiful moments, but it also has sadness, despair, longing, and shame. I ugly cried a few times.

It reminded me a lot of The Walking Dead. It has a similar sense of harsh reality to it. Sometimes, we desperately seek those happy endings for our favorite characters, but fate has different plans in mind. Just like on the show, we get the opportunity to fall for certain characters and develop a connection to them, but when you live in a deadly environment then you can’t really expect to hope that everything will turn out okay for every single one.

The crazy part of it all is that I loved all the characters. Yes, at some point or another, they infuriated me or angered me, but I still wanted them ALL to make it. Yet, deep down I knew that the chances of all of them having a happy ending would be extremely slim.

I now understand the frustration that other readers felt, but I don’t regret reading the book at all. I loved it. I loved every heart-wrenching part of it. I want to read the other books in the series even though I know that they may leave me feeling sad as well by the end. They all contain different characters by the way.

I had a little bit of trouble trying to rate this. This book captivated me from beginning to end so strongly that I wanted to give it 5 stars. On the other hand, the ending had me reeling. There were plenty of things that were left unresolved and made me want to give it 4 stars.

Final verdict: 4.5 stars (ha I just thought I’d rate it somewhere in the middle since I’m so fickle)

I’m looking forward to seeing how the other books are! Overall, I highly recommend this book if you’re a zombie or horror fan. It had plenty of creepy scenes!

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