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The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and TeethMary’s world is fenced in. She lives in a small enclave within the Forest of Hands and Teeth, constantly surrounded by the fear of an attack by the Unconsecrated. All she really knows is that she should listen to the Sisterhood’s wisdom, let the Guardians protect her, and perform her expected duties. But Mary’s world starts to unravel when her parents are infected and become Unconsecrated and she joins the Sisterhood. She learns about the secrets the Sisterhood has been guarding and that there might actually be a world outside the tiny one Mary knows, a possibility that tears down the rest of the trust Mary’s placed in God and the Sisterhood. And then the fence is breached and there is no more safety, only dangerous uncertainties. Now Mary will have to make the most difficult decisions of her life between love and duty, fear of the unknown and faith in possibilities, and survival and her dreams.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a riveting tale set in a terrifying post apocalyptic world, but although the story is well written and captures my attention, I’m not quite sure if I like it or not. There is no doubt that Ryan is a skilled storyteller, especially for a debut author, and I like her vividly descriptive and honest style. Mary’s character is a success as well; readers will be able to relate to her curiosity and questioning of what she has always known. Mary’s bleak situation made me trust her as a narrator, because the atrocity of living surrounded by Unconsecrated cannot be glossed over, and appreciate the complicated love story centering on her; I couldn’t help but keep rooting for Mary to pull through and survive. What I didn’t enjoy, though, was Ryan’s slaughter, or perhaps sacrifice, of many main characters; it was just so heartbreaking and made me feel a sad sense of hopelessness. I understand that such a novel as this can’t have a perfectly happy ending because of the devastated atmosphere, but the love proved through Mary’s relationships with various other characters was partially spoiled by all the death. I was also disappointed that more background information was not provided regarding the Unconsecrated and how they came to be, except my inference of the connection between the spread of the virus and hope. But then again, maybe it was supposed to be that way and I just didn’t understand everything.

Though not quite what I was expecting or hoping for, The Forest of Hands and Teeth is still a captivating tale that everyone should read to interpret for themselves. Fans of The Abhorsen Chronicles by Garth Nix, Daylight Runner by Oisín McGann, Shift by Charlotte Agell, and the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld may enjoy this novel as well. I look forward to more writing from Ryan.

Rating: 4.5

Review copy from Amazon Vine

2 munch(es) :

Janssen said...

I felt very much the same way. SO great in some ways, but also a little disappointing in others. I'm frankly surprised by the reviews giving it a full 10 of 10 or an A+.

Amelia said...

Great review! I've been wondering what this one was all about.

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