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The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Purchased with my own cold hard cash

PJVs QUICKIE POV: Egad Brain! Shiver shiver, snicker snicker. Thrills and chills galore are embedded within the pages of The Forest of Hands and Teeth then wrapped up in an emotional roller coaster. Why did I read this book? Zombies scare me silly - and add the insanity of the innocent rural lifestyle and well you have zombies munching on heart-breakingly innocent villagers. This is much different than zombies munching on snarky British guys, at least they seem like they deserve it.  I'm still in an emotional cloud and I'm hearing moaning around every corner. But, I loved every minute of it? Most of the book was spent running from this zombie or that, but wow, can Ms. Ryan (I'm sorry Mrs. now) tell a story.

REVIEW: In a charming little village, set deep in the forest, lives a girl named Mary. Mary should only be thinking about who will ask to court her during the Winter months, she should be thinking about marriage, settling down, having babies, like a good member of the village. Mary isn't concerned about things like that though, she is a dreamer and she is dreaming of the ocean. Stories told to her by her mother about the waves and tall buildings that touch the sky. Things she believes one day she will see.

There is only one problem with Mary's dream.  Fencing surrounds her entire village, and behind that fencing is The Forest of Hands and Teeth and within that forest the Unconsecrated live, if you call it living.  They are the dead that have risen, they do not age, they only rot and fall apart - with one thing on their mind, eat living flesh. Yum.

Never one for a zombie novel, I bought the book after meeting the author and getting a fan girl crush on her just by hearing her speak about how she derived her ideas. She struck me as quite brilliant and I had to read her work. Very glad I did. Ryan's style of writing isn't peppered with flourishes or showiness, she tells a story, getting right to the point. Mary's struggle is mostly internal and Ryan grasps the psychological aspect very well, transitioning directly from internalizing to battle mode in an instant.  In fact the action sequences come on so quickly and unexpectedly it is almost as if you were there because of your lack of preparedness.

My only problems I had with the book was the sheer stupidity of the characters sometimes. They knew the zombies were out there, it was almost as if they were in denial - get prepared people, you are going to be attacked! They would stay holed up in an area and play house...all while the hordes of the dead would press against the walls. Thus, going back to the innocent, ignorance of the villagers. So used to taking orders from the governing few (The Sisters & The Guardians) that they can't make hard decisions on their own. All of them crippled by grief that I think they almost wanted to be overrun and killed. It was definitely an emotional ping pong match.

I've heard this book described as The Village with Joaquin Pheonix meets Night of the Living Dead. I really have to disagree. Yes, they lived in a village, cut off from the rest of the world. Yes, the elders kept the younger population ignorant of some things. But, the hole point of The Village was that the elders specifically kept the group away from the outside world because of the violence and death that is so prolific in modern society, whereas in TFOHAT, this village is separated by a great apocalyptic event where the dead rise and kill the living. Quite different. I see the Night of the Living Dead parallel - yep you guessed it, zombies.


RECOMMENDATIONS: Mature teens, there are no explicit scenes, but it does have a lot of emotional turmoil that I think will be interpreted better by a more mature audience. Adults will have no problem digesting this little number, nothing immature about it.

RUMINATIONS: (For those who have read this book already - please don't read if you haven't, will contain spoilers) Mary is a bit on the crazy side, is she not? The scene where she first enters the house from the second village and finds the newborn had me all agog. I was about ready to beat the dog with the book (if I had an evil dog beating streak in me) in shear frustration and emotional volcanoness from that little scene. OMG. And really I know in zombie movies/books the whole point is that really everyone dies - which is the whole reason I'm not a fan of zombies.  I mean really they are slow and stupid, where is the blow torch when you need it? I lost my train of thought on that one. Oh, yes, the fire. Yack! What was that about? This thing never stopped!


Mel said...

Great review! The scene you mentioned in your spoiler was really disturbing to me too. I kept thinking, "Mary are you nuts? What are you doing?" I did enjoy this one, but I think I really liked the next one a little better. Dead-Tossed Waves was very good. Ryan is an expert at writing about internal conflict, both these books have a lot of that.

MarceJ said...

I didn't consider this one but I think I may enjoy it, just the turmoil alone sounds intriguing.

Great review

Life After Jane said...

Fabulous review! Wasn't this book fun and didn't it scare the crap out of you? I'm so in love with this book and the sequel. Never been a zombie fan either, always thought of them as funny but ZOMBIES SCARE ME and I lurve it.

Insanely jealous of your getting to meet her. I went to Octavia the weekend after she was there and was at least able to snag some signed copies. I think she will be part of a tour that comes to Lemuria books in Jackson, MS in September (if I read correctly) and I'll be there with bells on.

Jen D. said...

Great review. I know what you mean about Mary. There were quite a few times I wanted to slap her senseless. Not to mention that the sight of red sweatshirt still sends chills up my spine.

Carolyn Crane said...

Thanks for the review...and the spoiler warning! I'm getting closer and closer to reading this thing. I like that you weren't sure about it, and then changed your mind and enjoyed it, because that's sort of where I am. But it is SO well respected!!!

Tina said...

I really liked the book. I didn't get annoyed at all by the characters , as you called it, stupidity. I think it made sense. This was how they were raised. From the moment they were born, this was their world and everything they were taught. That's why I liked Mary, because she question the sisters.

I really liked the next book. It was just as well done.

Karen said...

Great review. This book was so relentlessly dark (in a good way)that I haven't read the second one yet - I need a breather between the two I think.
The only thing that annoyed me was Mary. She met her true love that she couldn't live without but kept trying to be somewhere else. It's explained well - but annoying none the less. She was always a "the grass is always greener" kind of girl. :-)

Sullivan McPig said...

Nice review. I myself thought the story was great, but I had serious problems with Ryan's writing style and with Mary.

Missie said...

I can not wait to read these books!

Melissa said...

I'm wanting to read this one. I've heard such good things about this book.

Lily Child said...

Nice review! I enjoyed it as well, but not as much as you. I found it a wee bit too depressing (what was I expecting, it's a zombie novel after all!!!) and the stupidity of the characters really annoyed me as well. Don't get me wrong, I really did enjoy the book as a whole, but those were two major downsides in my eyes.

Tara SG (25 Hour Books) said...

Great review! I have this on my Kindle and now think I may need to wait until the hubs is back in town to read it lol :)

Patti said...

You're so good - I haven't read any of the books I bought at the signing yet. And I really want to; is it wrong that I'm getting mad that RL is getting in the way of my reading? :)

Emily said...

Great review! I read this book a few months ago and I remember being struck by how hopeless the situation seemed. One minute, your neighbor is acting a little funny, and the next minute, they're a flesh eating zombie battering at the fence trying to pick the meat off your bones. The concept of fast zombies freaked me right out too.

BookGirl said...

I loved this book and I can't wait to read the second book but I have to wait until the good bookpeople deliver it to me haha.
But I love your review!

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