All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan

on October 8, 2010

Mary and the people in her village spend their lives behind the fences. The fences that keep them in and the Unconsecrated out. They are taught that they are the last remaining pocket of humanity, that the Unconsecrated have consumed the rest. Mary and the other villages follow the oppressive rules of the Sisterhood every day, praying constantly, putting their faith in God that he will continue to protect them. Continue to keep the fences strong and the Unconsecrated out.

But Mary is a dreamer. She dreams of the ocean, vivid to her from the stories her mother has told her from the time she was small. Mary lost first her father to the Unconsecrated and then her mother made the choice to go into the forest after she too was bitten. Her brother, unable to deal with the fact that Mary allowed their mother to make the choice to go into the forest, cannot even bear to look at her and she is forced into a life of worship at the Sisterhood, despite the fact that her faith has left her. The Sisterhood, ruled by the devout Sister Tabitha, is not really the life for curious, willful Mary. When a childhood friend speaks for her, she is able to leave the Sisterhood to marry the boy so they can go about their duty – reproduction, bolstering the numbers of the village.

But Mary doesn’t just want commitment, companionship, a partner to help fulfill her duty to the village in having children. This is a recurring theme throughout the novel because Mary always wants more. When the Unconsecrated breach the fences finally (how is never explained, the village has trained Guardians who do nothing but fortify the fences) Mary, her betrothed, a small boy they rescue, her betrothed’s brother and his betrothed  and Mary’s brother and his wife are forced to flee their village down one of the many fenced paths leading away. Mary is sure there are other villages, other people, other civilizations. And of course, at the end of all these paths is surely the one thing she longs to see the most, the thing that will save them: the ocean.

So. I wanted to like this book. I really did. I’ve heard a lot of hype and it’s about zombies! Zombies are creepy! But this book fell a little flat with me because there were so many questions unanswered and so many things went unexplained. Not only is it not explained how the Unconsecrated finally breach the fences before Mary and Co are forced to flee, but many things along their journey are not explained either. The boy, Jacob, starts a fire that forces them to leave a safe haven, but it is not explained how a small boy came to be allowed to have the instruments that would permit him to start a fire, or how no one noticed until it was too late that the fire had started. They don’t explain how Mary figures out the symbols on the fences/gates nor do we learn the fates of several characters at the end of the novel. I guess I have to read the sequel to find out what happens to everyone else….

Mary, as a main character, was annoying. It was always all about her, how she always wanted more, how nothing was ever enough for her. She put other people in danger for her own interests and it was always just about finding the ocean and for what? All she does is talk about going to the ocean but she never really says why, nor does she have any idea whether or not she can get there. It’s just all about her being able to go there, and the rest of the party be damned. They can follow her or not, she doesn’t care. Not once do they all sit down and say hey, what should we do? What are our options? Let’s talk about what we all think.

I also didn’t get much of a feel for their life in the village. Yes I know the Unconsecrated are always pushing and clawing at the fences and doing lots of moaning and looking for victims but that’s one of the only things I do know. No theories are put forward as to how this plague of Unconsecrated started, how it swallowed up most of society, and why the village Mary lives in believes that they are the last survivors, the last resistance against the Unconsecrated. Mary learns that the Sisterhood has secrets but we don’t ever really learn what those secrets are or why the Sisterhood is keeping them. It’s like the author wrote in all of these mysteries and subplots and then just basically forgot that they even existed. The action was taken away from the Village so we never really learned what happened, especially to the remaining members of the Sisterhood that barricaded themselves into the Cathedral. There’s just a couple of “oh everyone is gone” statements but that’s never really proven.

While I was writing this I got an email to tell me that The Dead Tossed Waves (a ‘companion novel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth not a sequel, apparently) is now in at the local library for me to go and pick it up. I am torn as to whether or not I want to read it because I don’t think it will give me any answers to the questions raised in this book and quite possibly will only give me more questions. Unfortunately for me, I’m mostly sort  of nosy. It’s sitting there waiting for me, so I probably will go in and get it and read it. Who knows? Maybe it will answer all my questions.

Here’s hoping!


(Book #71 of my 75 Book Challenge)

This is book #2 for my YA Dystopian Challenge hosted by Darren over at Bart’s Bookshelf! The challenge runs from October 1st – December 19th 2010.This puts me halfway through the challenge I have set for myself. Pop over and have a look and check out some of the reviews going up!



6 responses to “The Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan

  1. I wanted to read this one when it first came out, but then my interest waned and I never got around to reading it. I’m not sure now that I even want to.

  2. Yeah, I was disappointed! All the hype surrounding this novel, I expected a much tighter narrative. There are plenty of good reviews around for it though, so maybe I’m just picky!

  3. Tina says:

    I liked this one, but mostly for how it was written. The story was a bit frustrating for me because of what you pointed out: all the unanswered questions. I think the author just wanted the readers to accept that life in Mary’s village is like that.

    I already read The Dead Tossed Waves and it was pretty okay. A bit more romance, and maybe a bit more answers for you. 🙂 I have a feeling the third book (coming out next year, I think?) will be able to really answer everything.

  4. […] The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan […]

  5. […] and they just didn’t do it for me at all. The first two are connected and are The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and The Dead Tossed Waves. I read both for the Dystopian Challenge hosted by Bart and I was pretty […]

  6. […] Disappointing Book of 2010: Sizzling Sixteen, even though I shouldn’t be that disappointed. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: