“The Forest of Hands and Teeth” – Do Horror and Romance Mesh?

Book Review : The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Spoiler Alert!

Mary knows certain facts; to be safe the Sisterhood must be obeyed and the fence line must be maintained. She has lost her father to the Forest of Hands and Teeth and now her mother has been infected when she delayed meeting her to spend a little more time by the river holding hands. The unconsecrated have taken over her personal life and she feels totally bereft which is amplified with the rejection of her brother. Mary’s only remaining option is to join the Sisterhood, but she quickly finds out that the Sisterhood is keeping secrets. Curious to know more Mary’s paradigm shifts onto perilous ground. She continually is rejected by those she loves, finds a new possible friend who is torn away from her and the fence line is breached.

Adult Point of View

I have discovered a couple of really important things in reading this book.

1 – I do not like horror books

2 – I do not like zombies

3 – If I am worried about zombies (the unconsecrated) I cannot think about love

After disclosing this list you will understand that if you love zombies and horror that your opinions will differ widely from mine.

From a literary standpoint Ryan’s post-apocalyptic world, where humans have been infected to become zombies, which in turn creates a hysteria for survival, and a fanatic oppressive religion, is a logical and intriguing set of circumstances to build around. Many will argue that points in this novel have parallel circumstances to the movie The Village. I could agree with this argument easily. The relationships and character development felt flat and unrealistic. I never really understood why the two brothers had both loved Mary and were so fickle in always being willing to set her aside. I never even found it believable that Mary was in love. Her best friend had been described as being fun and bubbly, however, after her fiance was injured she always seemed bitter and brooding. These opposing characteristics didn’t fit together plausibly.  Finally, I felt very disjointed by the ending. Was I suppose to be happy that Mary found the ocean when the others had been left behind to be consumed by the unconsecrated? It did not feel satisfying.

I found The Forest of Hands and Teeth to be disturbing and I wanted to finish the novel so I could get out of Ryan’s world. I chose not to let my 14 year old daughter read this novel because of some of the graphic choices that are made, for example, beheading someone you love because they have become infected. This is a book that I recommend should be previewed by a parent to decide what age it is appropriate for YOUR child.

In this instance I am not going to rate it with stars because it is not in a genre from which I normally read.

– the Mother

About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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