Monday, January 28, 2013

The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Book Review)

Author: Carrie Ryan
Year: 2009
Genre: Horror/supernatural
Reading Level: Young Adult

Series: First in the Forest of Hands and Teeth series (followed by The Dead-Tossed Waves)

Plot Summary: Mary lives a small life in a small village, the remnants of a once-great population.  The village is surrounded on all sides by fences to keep out the other remnants of the population--the Unconsecrated (ie, zombies).  When the fence is breached, Mary escapes with a few others and they have to find their through the Unconsecrated-filled Forest of Hands and Teeth to survive.

Award/s: Junior Library Guild selection, TAYSHAS High School Reading List (2010), Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Series (2009)

Red Flags: Some zombie violence and gore (PG-13 level), general peril, a zombie baby and a couple lusty teenager moments.

My Rating: A-
First off, I had NO IDEA this book was about zombies.  No clue.  So...that was a surprise.  Secondly, I think I overrated this book.  It was compelling and stuff, but I don't think it's as good as it made me think initially.  For one thing, there is hardly any resolution to any of the mysteries.  Not that I expected all the questions to be answered, but there was so *very* little payoff.  The story does veer a bit into repetitive territory, with the constant barely-escapes and in-the-nick-of-time savings.  Also: fire kills zombies and they know this.  So why does no one EVER use fire against them??  Why is there no fire by the fences?  Why do people not have a perpetual fire in their houses for emergencies?  SOMEONE USE SOME FIRE.

But anyway...I do give it credit for an engrossing story, a great title and atmospheric writing.  The characters were kind of one-dimensional and I didn't really care about any of them (except the dog of course), but in some ways I think this is a book you read more for the story than the characters.  I did appreciate that even though it has zombies, the yuckier aspects were kept YA appropriate.  It's still gross but it's not Dean Koontz or anything.  

Finally, this is not a criticism of the book itself, but I think the book flap summary is misleading with all its talk about truths and how they might not be truths at all.  But, um, they seemed like truths to me.  

Also I think the romance was a bit forced. 

Okay I'm done. 

(I still want to read the second one!  I liked it!  I did!)



  2. You ought to check out the sequels, I think there is more resolution there. Loved them myself, although I too did not realize they were about zombies at first.