Fangirl Book Club Pick of the Month: “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan

"The Forest of Hands and Feet" by Carrie RyanA review written/summarized by Amanda.

Every month, our club votes on the book that we will read for that month. August’s choice was The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.

Spoiler-free Synopsis:

Mary’s village is isolated in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, so called because of the masses of once-living creatures, the Unconsecrated, who seek human flesh. Protected by Guardians and guided by the Sisterhood,the villagers lead simple lives, routines occasionally disrupted by the Unconsecrated. Mary tries to be content with her fate; someday soon she will join the Sisterhood. Her only other option is to hope that a boy will speak for her. They’ll be betrothed and then married, and then expected to provide children to build up the dwindling population. Neither of these options appeal to Mary, who longs for the ocean in her mother’s stories, a fairy tale according to everything they’ve been taught. A terrible secret leads to a horrible tragedy and sends Mary and her friends on an adventure that they never expected, one they might not survive.

What We Liked:

The book is full of amazing imagery. The author did an excellent job of describing the landscape with just enough detail to bring the pictures to life, but not so much that we felt compelled to skip ahead. Many of us appreciated that Mary comes across as a typical teenager. She is occasionally ruled by her hormones and is overwhelmed by her emotions. She gets passionately angry when things don’t go how she thinks they should. Her romantic feelings waffle back and forth and she doesn’t always know what she wants. It was refreshing to read about a normal teenager who happens to be living in the midst of a zombie horde. We also liked Mary’s refusal to settle for less than exactly what she wants. Even when she gets what she thinks she wants, she still isn’t content. We also enjoyed the relationships and dynamics between Mary’s friends, particularly Harry and Travis. This book is full of emotional moments, both joyful and tragic. We applaud any author who can make us feel so much, good and bad, in the span of a few hundred pages.

What We Didn’t Like:

Mary was not the most sympathetic of characters. Her behavior was often frustrating, much in the same way that adults are frustrated by the actions of teenagers. It was difficult to root for her as the protagonist when you also wanted to metaphorically slap her upside the head. There is a lot of tragedy and sadness in this story, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but made it difficult for some readers to get through. The book also ends on a cliffhanger, leaving the fates of several characters unknown.

There are two sequels to this book (The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places), both with different narrators. Readers have found that they relate better to the new protagonists and are able enjoy those stories more.

 

Fangirl rating: 2.7 out of 5 stars.

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