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The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

by Carrie Ryan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,9663261,931 (3.62)1 / 217
  1. 181
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (ahstrick)
  2. 82
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  3. 52
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (jlparent)
  4. 20
    Divergent by Veronica Roth (Anonymous user)
  5. 53
    Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Tanglewood)
  6. 10
    The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell (SunnySD)
    SunnySD: Zombies galore - beginnings and endings at the ocean.
  7. 32
    The Road by Cormac McCarthy (kqueue)
    kqueue: Also a grim, dark, violent post-apocalyptic tale.
  8. 43
    The Passage by Justin Cronin (ahstrick)
  9. 00
    The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda (Friederike.Geissler)
  10. 11
    Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (BrynDahlquis)
    BrynDahlquis: The apocalyptic/tragic plot is quite similar, though one has zombies and the other has a homicidal moon.
  11. 00
    Hollowland by Amanda Hocking (clif_hiker)

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English (327)  German (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (330)
Showing 1-5 of 327 (next | show all)
I think that I let my expectations get the best of me. I had an idea of what this book would be and it was absolutely nothing like that. In some ways, I am glad that it wasn't what I expected, but in other ways, I was disappointed. This story had a lot of potential; there is something about it that kept me intrigued, but it was just not enough. Not thrilling enough, not evocative enough, not emotional enough. I feel like it teetered on the border of being all these things, but never quite crossed over into either; not for me. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but I also wouldn't dissuade someone from reading this. ( )
  rawrrbot | Sep 15, 2015 |
I almost didn't finish this book, probably shouldn't have based on how much I didn't like it. But I'm crazy and forced myself through it all since it wasn't too long. And I suppose I was hoping, hoping for any glimpse of it getting better. But I shouldn't fool myself. This was an awful book. Mostly in the writing. The plot held promise but the characters fell flat, tripping face first into the ground by the second chapter. I don't believe that this is the way humans would act when in a situation like presented. There is needless cruelty between family and friends. More importantly, it was unexplained cruelty, which just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The emotions here were too fake. Actually there were only superficial emotions, all centered around "love" which came off as too fake as well. I was really disappointed when I realized this was a romance more than anything. And why oh why, did there have to be a love triangle. There was a little promise here but none of it bloomed. I think the artwork of the next two books is gorgeous and I hoped the story would be good enough for me to get my hands on the second and third book but I will not be wasting my time. ( )
  Kassilem | Sep 5, 2015 |
The Village meets the Walking Dead. I was concerned this would have too much sap in it but it is very well written and contains a ton of interesting action sequences. ( )
  LJMax | Aug 21, 2015 |
This was one of those books that drew me in by the cover. I read the description and it sounded good, but the story just didn't live up to it. I was looking forward to a good post-apocalypse story that describes that new world -- with some romance thrown in.

Instead, it was all about the main character whining for the whole book about how much she loves this one guy that she just can't have. It was really, /really/ annoying. Even when she has a perfectly good guy that loves her. Oh, and the post-apocalypse thing was really just a background. I wanted to know SO MUCH more about about the Sisterhood and the Guardians. I wanted to see a story that delved into the secrets of their world and revealed the ugly truth. However, the story just follows the selfish whims of the main character - Mary - and the quest for freedom...which is a severe let down in the end. And not because of where she ends up...because of the characters.

So, I gave this three stars because I liked the idea of the book most of all. Otherwise, I would have given it two. I wouldn't really recommend this book, because its mostly a waste of time and/or money. Sorry, but true. ( )
  SpazzyDragon13 | Jul 7, 2015 |
I have read a number of other books by Carrie Ryan, The Map to Everywhere which I loved, and The Daughter of Deep Silence which was okay. I have had this book in my TBR pile forever and finally got a chance to pick it up. It ended up being okay. It’s well written but starts out a bit slow and wasn’t all that original.

Mary lives in a village surrounded by a fence. Inside the village the Sisterhood rules all and the Guardians patrol the fence. Outside the fence the Unconsecrated will stop at nothing to break in and consume human flesh. Mary is getting to an age where she either must be asked for by a young man in the village or join the Sisterhood. She is forced to join the Sisterhood but found unsuitable for that work and when her childhood friend Harry asks for her she becomes his betrothed. However the only problem is that Mary took care Harry’s brother Travis while she was in the Sisterhood and both feel deeply in love.

Mary’s love troubles suddenly become inconsequential when a strange fast moving Unconsecrated breaks into the village and rips their lives apart.

This book starts out very slow but does pick up pace towards the end. The tone in the beginning reminds a lot of the movie The Village. Over half of the book is about Mary in her little village dealing with her day to day worries and concerns. Things do pick up towards the end but the pacing is strange. First Mary is completely obsessed with her love for Travis, then she ignores him in her quest for the ocean her mother told stories about, then she is obsessed with him again and then ignoring him. It was like Ryan couldn’t have Mary be in love AND eager to seek out the ocean at the same time...it was weird.

I thought the characters were a bit bland as well and didn't really engage with them. Mary is selfish and determined to fulfill her needs and obsessions; she doesn’t think about long term consequences and her actions were pretty stupid and poorly thought out. None of the other main characters really grabbed me and engaged me either; they were all just kind of blah. This book was full of characters who were selfish and short-sighted and generally annoying.

However, I did enjoy the world here and am curious to learn more about it. I felt like as soon as the story started to actually get interesting the book was over. Although let’s be honest the idea of secluded human societies in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world isn’t really all that unique...it’s been done many times before.

Overall this is a decent read for those who are looking for a dystopian YA zombie type of book. I found the world intriguing but thought the book was a bit slow and that the characters were unlikable and hard to engage with . I am unsure whether or not I will read the next book in the series right now; I kind of want to read more about this world but I am worried that the 2nd book will be as slow and boring as this one was. ( )
1 vote krau0098 | Jun 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 327 (next | show all)
The story is riveting, even though it leaves a lot of questions to be explained in the sequel.
added by Katya0133 | editSchool Library Journal, Debra Banna

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carrie Ryanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Millon, VaneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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to jp

for giving me the world
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My mother used to tell me about the ocean.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Mary habite un village entouré d'une clôture. Derrière, les Damnés, revenus de la mort, rôdent dans la forêt, avides de chair humaine... Comment franchir la Forêt des Damnés ?
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385736827, Paperback)

Amazon Exclusive: Scott Westerfeld Reviews The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Scott Westerfeld is the author of three sets of books for young adults, including the Uglies series, the Midnighters series, and a series of stand-alone novels set in contemporary New York, including So Yesterday, Peeps, and The Last Days. Both Uglies and Peeps were named Best Books for Young Adults by the American Library Association in 2006. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of The Forest of Hands and Teeth:

Teenagers love a good apocalypse. Who doesn't? All those annoying rules suspended. Society's pretenses made irrelevant. Malls to be looted. School out forever.

But in The Forest and Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan's marvelous debut novel, the post-apocalypse is defined more by constraints than freedoms. The book begins seven generations after the Return, an undead plague that has ended civilization as we know it. Of course, a zombie outbreak usually means shotguns and mall looting--the very essence of freedom. But more than a century on from the Return, the malls have already been looted, and shotguns are a distant memory. The novel's heroine, Mary, lives in a village surrounded by one last vestige of industrial technology: a chain-link fence, beyond which is a vast forest full of shambling, eternally ravenous undead--the forest of hands and teeth. No villager ever goes outside this fence, unless they want to die. (And given this bleak scenario, some do.)

Mary's world is bounded not only by the fence but by the archaic traditions of her people, which are enforced by a religious order called the Sisterhood. Marriages, childbirth, death, every stage of life must be controlled to sustain the village's precarious existence. Even the houses are circumscribed--literally--with passages of scripture carved into every entrance to remind the inhabitants of the rules that sustain human life amid the horrors of the forest.

After so long an isolation, the village is beginning to forget. Some doubt that there really was a time before the Return, with giant cities and wondrous technologies. Others believe that nothing at all exists beyond the forest of hands and teeth. And nobody but Mary and her slightly mad mother believes in something called "the ocean," a huge and unbounded space beyond the reach of the undead.

Mary is the sort of teenager who dreams of bigger things. Not just the ocean, but epic romance and adventure beyond the fence, maybe even other villages somewhere out there, safe behind their own fences. She believes that answers can be found to questions like, What made the Return happen? And what was it like before?

Escaping the confines of home for the greater world is, of course, one of the great themes of teen literature. But few heroes in any genre have faced an obstacle as daunting as the forest of hands and teeth. Though Ryan's writing is as lyrical as her title, this novel is driven by the same grim relentlessness that animates any good zombie film. Elegant prose and undead hordes combine to create a story where high drama feels completely unforced, where tension is constant, and where an image as simple as the open sea is achingly romantic.

Zombies have been metaphors for many things: consumerism, contagion in an overpopulated world, the inevitability of death. But here they resonate with a particularly teenage realization about the world--that social limits and backward traditions are numberless and unstoppable, no matter how shambling they may seem at first.

And yet we must try to escape them anyway, lest we wither inside the fence.--Scott Westerfeld

Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Carrie Ryan

We had the opportunity to chat with Carrie Ryan over e-mail about her first novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Here’s what Carrie had to say about George Romero, the growing popularity of young adult fiction, and how she's preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Amazon.com: You have said you began your writing career intending to write “chick lit.” How, then, did you come to write The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which, on first glance, is a far cry from that genre?

Carrie Ryan: In college many of the short stories I wrote were fairly dark but I’d always heard the advice that you should write what you read and at the time I loved to read romantic comedies and chick lit. So when I decided to attempt a novel, that’s what I tried to write even though it didn’t fit my natural tone. In fact, when I first tried to write a romantic comedy I had to constantly pull myself away from writing dark (and the reason I never tried to sell that book is because too many characters die which wasn’t very comedic!). Even the young adult chick lit I was working on tended to be dark--the main character interned at a coroners office and was surrounded by death.

So writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth was more of me embracing my true voice. I think I’d been scared to just indulge in it before, afraid that there wouldn’t be a market for it (and in fact, even when I was writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth I was convinced it wasn’t saleable). As soon as I jotted down the first line I decided to write it the way I wanted--to experiment and push the bounds and not worry about the market or what other people would think. This was the story I realized I had to tell when my fiancé suggested, “write what you love.”

Amazon.com: Your book has drawn inevitable comparison to the archetypal zombie flick, Night of the Living Dead. How does Mary’s world differ from the world George Romero created more than 40 years ago? Are the movies what first got you hooked on zombies?

Ryan: George Romero has really sparked a lot of imaginations and while any book or movie with zombies inevitably owes a massive debt to Romero's world, I tend not to think of The Forest of Hands and Teeth as a "zombie book," but rather a book that happens to have zombies in it. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which takes place generations after the apocalypse, is really about a girl struggling with growing up, desire, and a controlling society set against the backdrop of a world with zombies (called “Unconsecrated”) constantly pushing against the fences. The characters have already come to terms with the Return (the zombie apocalypse) and know nothing else: this is their world and they've accepted it.

Romero's movies, on the other hand, deal more directly with the zombies--the plot arc of Night of the Living Dead is having to reckon with and defend against a zombie apocalypse as it occurs. In Romero's world the characters are still trying to fight against the zombies, still trying to reclaim the world of "before." In my book, the "before" time is lost, beyond memory, and the Unconsecrated are not so much the focal point as a part of the setting.

I do think watching the remake of Dawn of the Dead sparked my interest in zombies and led to my watching other zombie movies, including Romero's. One of the things I love the best about his movies, and something that inspired me, is that while they may appear to be simply zombie flicks on the surface, they're actually a commentary on society and are often a reflection of societal fears.

Like many other authors and directors, I wanted to use zombies as a mirror for the characters in my book. In the end, though, what influenced me most was the idea of a girl growing up trapped in a village that has forgotten everything and her hope that there could be something more beyond the menace in the Forest surrounding them, and that's what The Forest of Hands and Teeth is really about.

Amazon.com: Many young adult books with post-apocalyptic settings have been gaining a wide adult fan base--Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It are a couple of examples. Why do you think these books are attracting a wider audience?

Ryan: It’s been really exciting to see so many young adult books find such popularity with adult readers and I’ve loved re-introducing both my mom and sister to the young adult section. In the past I think readers have “graduated” to adult books and there’s been this feeling that young adult books are “just for teens” and are therefore somehow lighter and less substantive. While there have always been phenomenal young adult books published every year, it’s really felt like there’s been a renaissance recently: more books that are pushing the boundaries in every way.

Not only are a lot of sophisticated young adult books being published, but they’re accessible to everyone--most adults can remember those years of their life and tap into those emotions and feelings. But even more, so many of these books also tap into adult emotions and feelings: how to survive, figuring out what matters in life, struggling with changing relationships. These books make us question our decisions and ourselves and, especially in the current atmosphere of apprehension in the world, people are looking inward to what really matters to them.

Ultimately, I like to think that the bottom line is there are just really really great books in the young adult section and that great books will find a wide audience, no matter where they’re placed.

Amazon.com: In The Forest of Hands and Teeth, no one seems to know how the Unconsecrated (the zombies that live outside the village gates) first came into existence. What do you suspect would trigger the zombie apocalypse?

Ryan: This is actually one of my favorite parts of any zombie book or movie: seeing how the apocalypse is triggered. There are so many different ways it can happen (and has happened)! Aliens, séances, military and medical experiments gone wrong, parasites, environmental mishaps. You name it, it’s caused the zombie apocalypse (I’m still waiting for a movie with chocolate overindulgence as the trigger!)

But I actually made a conscious decision to leave the cause of the Return a mystery in The Forest of Hands and Teeth. One reason is that I wanted to show how knowledge and history could erode so drastically over time. The characters in my book have been so isolated and controlled that they think the ocean is a myth; they have no conception of the world before the Return.

Ultimately, I recognized that the cause of the Return doesn’t matter to the characters or the story. There are so many books and movies that focus on why and how such an apocalypse occurs but my book takes place so long after the event that it’s meaningless. I really wanted to draw that distinction between my world and other zombie worlds: that it doesn’t matter how or why or what triggered the zombie apocalypse, just that it happened and that’s the world they live in now.

Amazon.com: So, how are you preparing for the zombie apocalypse?

Ryan: We’re not at all prepared! It’s funny, shortly after seeing my first zombie movie I dreamt there was a zombie apocalypse and how I would handle it if stuck in the apartment I was living in at the time. Even after waking up I kept trying to figure out how I would survive (how to defend myself, get water, find help, etc.). I’ve since thought through similar issues with every place we’ve lived sort of as a fun thought experiment and I’ve come to the conclusion that we were much safer when we lived in a top floor apartment than our one-story house with too many windows!

To prepare, I just continue to read books, watch movies and am currently trying to train my puppy to be a zombie-sniffing dog.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Through twists and turns of fate, orphaned Mary seeks knowledge of life, love, and especially what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, where dwell the Unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead.

» see all 4 descriptions

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