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The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth (edition 2010)

by Carrie Ryan

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Title:The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Authors:Carrie Ryan
Info:Delacorte Books for Young Readers (2010), Paperback, 336 pages
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The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Recently added byColt_Bushnell, ninadm108, private library, skullduggery, Y2Ash, DanaMarie1089, EmilyKM, ksue, Kanic
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English (309)  German (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (312)
Showing 1-5 of 309 (next | show all)
Waitaminute. Now, who is the zombie again?

I really liked this book for the first few chapters. In fact I was so excited about it that I nearly finished the book in one day. However, the more I read past the half-way-point, the more disappointed I got. This book had everything going for it until the main character suddenly became so selfish and callous that I felt she had as much humanity in her as the zombies who chased her. Every time she got something she had previously been desperate to get, she suddenly decided she really did not want that anymore and just threw it away like a piece of trash. She left a wake of desperation and suffering behind her that rivaled anything a zombie could produce. Basically, the main character totally fell apart and became a vapid idiot that would throw her own grandma in front of a bus without a second thought. Seriously disappointed.

Update: For some unknown reason, in spite of the horrible review I gave the first book in this series, I felt compelled to read the second installment. I guess I felt like there was so much *potential* in the premise of this series that I was curious to see if it would be realized. The second book was SO MUCH BETTER than the first! Still only about a 3.5/5, but definately better. I actually LIKE the main character of the second novel. Also, there is a glimmer of redemption for the main character of the first novel that I hated so much. The series still has some serious issues but I now feel like it is a real possibility that this author will grow as she writes. I will most likely read book 3.
( )
  Kanic | Apr 9, 2014 |
Mary's small village is surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth, where the undead bodies of the Unconsecrated reside. Constantly under threat of attack, the village is run by the Sisterhood, who rely on God's will and strict control of the villagers to survive. When Mary is forced to choose between marrying someone she doesn't love and joining the Sisterhood, she decides to seek a haven beyond the Forest. "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" was one of the better zombie novels that I've read--the descriptions of the Unconsecrated are chilling--but I would have liked to see more development in the characters. Overall, a good read, but I'm not sure yet if I'll continue the series. ( )
  TheMadHatters | Mar 19, 2014 |
I loved this book. I can't say that enough. It's difficult to ascertain exactly why because not much happens in TFOHAT. It's like so many others and unlike all of them at the same time. Story lines start heading in one direction and veer off in another. The heroine is selfish. The supportive characters frustrating and not nearly enough back story shared to explain what is going on or why they got there....

But I just loved it!

I guess you could chalk it up to an intriguing love triangle. Well-written tension, and incredible scene setting on the author's behalf. But as an author, this is one of those books that comes along and makes you think:


It's haunting and beautiful and much like 'The Village' which is one of those movies that just resonated with me and has never lost its grip.

Read if you like Zombies, love triangles, YA fiction, haunting characters and mystery.
flag ( )
  Sammy_Munt | Feb 6, 2014 |
I loved this book! Devoured it & had to jump right to the next. Highly recommended. ( )
  anissaannalise | Jan 1, 2014 |
Well, what do you say about a book that's written about the world post-zombie apocalypse? It's a dreary, depressing, consuming landscape with little hope, bizarre and garish--even frightening--emotions, that makes little sense and clashes with everything that a normal human being is wired for. There is anxiety, tension, fear, disgust, and countless other rejecting emotions stirring, constantly buzzing within you throughout this entire read. You are almost perpetually in a state of fight-or-flight as your adrenaline anticipates every injury, every cage, every devious and miserable corner. You're locked into this world, and there's no way out. There's just no way out...

This was my first experience reading a zombie book. In fact, my exposure to zombies has never been one of proliferation or expertise. Nonetheless, I know enough or have heard enough that I've got some form of handle of experience. It just... eats away at my mind: knowing that you're caged and there's nothing you can do. And you know what's the saddest part? That no one else will HELP you to do what LOGICALLY anyone would do! How do these people not go STIR CRAZY?! I cannot live a life of continuous running, or continuous hiding. I need to move with purpose or I will go mad.

Either way, though this review is going to be short, I did want to get a couple of things across. My experience reading this book was an interesting one. I was never quite sure exactly how I was feeling. I didn't even know how I wanted to react to the characters half the time. First I liked someone, then I didn't like them, but then they would do something else that would be exactly what I would do were I given the chance. This happened countless times, and with practically every single character! Mary, for instance, our main character: she has a drive to escape, to believe in something more, to not be caged, to FIGHT and continue on outside of this village she was born into. And yet she has moments of seething, gripping, controlling jealousy whenever Travis is involved that just quells and quenches any appreciation I have of her. And yet in the next moment, she's back to doing all these things and thinking all these thoughts that I completely support. Sister Tabitha was another example. First time I saw her I thought, "Crazy power-wielding religious figure blaspheming so she can rule the village with an unflinching, brainwashing will." Next thing you know though, she's spouting off comments that I completely agree with in regards to Mary and her obvious lust for Travis. We get twists with characters we like: some that make a little more sense, like with Cass, and some not so expected, like with Gabrielle.

Yet through the entirety of this book, we have this strangeness... this weird relationship between everyone and everything. I couldn't quite decide if I liked or disliked absolutely anything from the beginning, all the way throughout, and finally even at the end of the book! The characters, the situations, their thoughts, their emotions, their way of handling things. Everything was unusual! Everything was brash and harsh and unexpected! And the only part that was expected towards the end of the book was more depressing and disappointing than it was upsetting even! Goodness! By the end of the book, you don't even know if anything is better at ALL than when you first started out! You're left not so much with a cliffhanger as much as you're left trailing off the last page going, "...that's it?" Where is the satisfaction?! Where is the INDULGENCE?! I feel like I went through this entire book, and none of my needs--emotionally, plot-wise, conclusively, etc. as a reader--were met. It's just an experience that you live through and then is over with.

And I must say this: The book was definitely an experience. And I'll even add this on top of that: It's an experience I would definitely recommend everyone going through. Mind you, it's a very unusual, and strange experience. And I can't say it's a pleasant one, a gratifying one, or even a peaceful one! I was affected to the core by some of these things. And call me a wuss--it was not a smart idea to experience my first zombie book in the middle of the night. -3- I have no idea what I was thinking. Uh-uh.

But. No matter how strange this book was, the experience is one that is worth its merit. I feel that everyone will have to come to their own conclusion about this book for themselves. But as for the experience itself, it's one that will widen your horizon's, stretch your emotional and conceptual muscles, and give your mind a good workout in regards to very uncomfortable situations that usually you would never, ever put it in. I guess perhaps that's the appeal of zombie-themed media, as well as other things lingering on horror's doorstep.

If you never buy it, that's fine. But if you feel you want to give it a shot, I say pick it up and go for it. At the very least, you'll get an interesting insight into the ways that caged and hunted animals act when exposed to these situations chronically. For those of you who are not psychology nuts, trust me: it's a type of experience that affects people in ways that you can see in their emotions and thoughts, actions and ideas because they've been exposed to such a dangerous and oppressive environment for so long. Very interesting in that regard. So check it out! The experience is good, the writing is fine, and it can definitely teach you a thing or two on the emotional and stress-related level! Hope you enjoy? Mmm... Maybe "Hope you survive" is a better phrase. ( )
  N.T.Embe | Dec 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 309 (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

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carrie Ryanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Millon, VaneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
In Mary's world, there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.

The Guardians will protect and serve.

The Unconsecrated will never relent.

And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.

Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:27 -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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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