Book Review Wednesday: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (5 stars)

Posted: March 26, 2014 in Book Reviews
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An awesome zombie book (and series if you go on to read the following books). I loved, loved, loved this book. I’ve read 22 books so far this year, and I think this one may be my very favorite.

Here’s the summary:

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 about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, 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 in so much death?

As for why I liked it so much: it had a great mystery to it, complex characters and deep down was about a girl finding herself in a world of zombies. Mary’s world is very dangerous, and only gets more dangerous as the book goes on. A lot of people die in this book, including some main characters. The zombies are interesting. Mostly they’re your typical moaning dead, shuffling for a taste of human flesh, but Carrie Ryan somehow makes it feel fresh. And there are a couple differences.

More than any other zombie book I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a lot) forest of hands and teeth makes you feel how menacing the zombies are, and it doesn’t have to give them a whole load of new bells and whistles to do so. Again and again it reminds you of the volume of the dead. A person is bitten, they change, then they go on to bite another two or three people. It’s simple math. They never die, but the living do. So you end up with thousands, millions of walking dead, and the living dwindle down in numbers.

I love the world created in these books. I’d never want to live in them, but they seem so rich and interesting. Most of all there’s a constant theme in the books of surviving, of pushing on and living no matter how bad things get. Of having dreams, even in dark times.

Now for the bad. There’s a love triangle. Ick. But this does help the main character grow and learn what she wants in life. She doesn’t want to stick with what she knows, she wants to push herself and explore. Sure, she worries about who she should love, but more and more as the book goes on she looks to bigger issues like how she should live. Plus the zombies don’t let her dwell on her romantic issues too long.

Her major goal is a little strange. She wants to see the ocean. She pushes herself and the others toward this goal. At times this can seem a little stupid. At one point, she’s in a great house safe for the moment with the guy she’s been dreaming of being with forever, but she isn’t happy. She wants to see the ocean. She wants to know more about the dead. In a lot of ways this is a story about a girl’s descent into madness. Things pile up, and she cracks a bit. But she cracks in a cool way, a risk taking way, not a curl in a corner and hide way.

The characters have depth. There’s this one guy who you hate a bit at the beginning because he seems selfish, but then as you read more you see him as a guy who’s human and in love. A guy who makes mistakes. All the characters make mistakes at one point or another. No one is perfect in this book.

The main reason I love this book is harder to explain. There’s something so addictive about reading it. Usually I hop about a little between books, but reading this one I had to make a bee line from this book, to the next and the next. I vacuumed them up. It was difficult to get anything else done. I think it’s knowing they’re never safe. There’s always something else coming around the corner to shake their lives up. And yet they don’t stop living. Sometimes they consider giving up, but the main characters push on and on without stopping.

There’s a scene in the very last book that sums up the whole series. The main character is stuck in a seemingly hopeless situation but she doesn’t give up. She tries, tries, and then tries again. She just keeps moving forward, even with dead on her heels, even when all seems lost. That determination to keep going is what made me love these books so much. It gives me faith in the human race. Some might give up when things get bad. Others go along with the flow and don’t think for themselves. But a few will keep fighting no matter how bad things get. And that is a beautiful message.

Want to check out more reviews on this book? Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3432478-the-forest-of-hands-and-teeth

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