The Forest of Hands and Teeth
By Carrie Ryan
Mini-Summary: Mary, a teenage girl living in an isolated village constantly on the brink of an Unconsecrated (zombie) attack, struggles with her limited choices in life and love. She becomes tangled in a complicated web of love and sacrifice, all while trying to remain alive in a post-apocalyptic world.
Some themes at play within the novel: Love, Friendship, Duty, Honor, Survival, Marriage, Hope, Death, Sacrifice
Some Thoughts (Spoiler-ish, fair warning):
While reading this book, all I could keep thinking was that this story is a cross between M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village and Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later. An isolated village protects itself against the horror and death that surrounds its fences, while the occupants have no idea about the true history of the world and what civilization lies outside the forest that surrounds them.
This is a quick, fast-paced read. I honestly don’t have too much to really say about it, since I didn’t find it very original. This is one of those bandwagon Young Adult lit. dystopian/post-apocalyptic books, and it was just a quick fix for me that I could read on my breaks at work.
There is a love triangle/square that is done well. Sacrifice and duty are the big motivating factors behind each character’s decisions, and I think that’s what makes this romance stick out above the other YA lit. romances floating around right now. I also found the religious aspect interesting; the village survives because of the medieval religious zealousness that rules the masses there.
There are unanswered questions and plot holes that I imagine will be addressed in the following books, but I don’t think this book is enticing enough for me to continue the series. I have so many books on my to-read list as it is.
“And suddenly I wonder what right we have to believe our childhood dreams will come true. My body aches with this realization. With this truth. It is as if I have cut something important away from myself. The loss is almost overwhelming. Almost enough to make me give up” (104).
“I try not to let the idea of the outside world tingle through my veins. But I cannot help it. On the edge of sleep, when my thoughts are no longer my own but controlled of their own volition, the sound of the ocean comes to me: the rustling of leaves of a hundred thousand trees that surround me, pulsing with the wind as the waves crash over my head. Pulling me under. Tossing my body as if it has no need of bones. Every night I drown and every morning I wake up struggling to breath” (146).
“The Sisterhood has it wrong … It’s not about surviving. It should be about love. When you know love, that’s what makes life worth it. When you live with it every day. Wake up with it, hold on to it during the thunder and after a nightmare. When love is your refuge from the death that surrounds us all and when it fills you so tight that you can’t express it” (155).
“All I can think about is how I have wasted my last day with Travis being angry at him. That I should have spent this day memorizing his face. Counting the freckles on his shoulders … Suddenly, all I can think about are the things I don’t know about him. All the things I never had time to learn. I don’t know if his feet are ticklish or how long his toes are. I don’t know what nightmares he had as a child. I don’t know which stars are his favorites, what shapes he sees in the clouds. I don’t know what he is truly afraid of or what memories he holds closest” (274).
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Information about my copy for my own records:
Publication: Paperback, Delacorte Press, First Trade Paperback Edition, 2009
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Dystopian, Romance