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The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Rating: 2.75/5 Stars (This is really hard for this book-I have mixed feelings about it)

Genre: Paranormal-but I really hesitate to call it that-I think Fantasy fits a little better -UPDATE: Dystopian fits perfectly-thanks Jana!

Release Date: 3/10/09

About the Book: Mary lives in a small village surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth, where one must never venture. The forest is where the unconsecrated live and the Sisterhood make sure the village stays protected. But Mary isn't happy in the village and she longs for the ocean. When she loose her family, she begins to uncover secrets the Sisterhood have been keeping and she's not sure who to trust.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I wanted to like this book-I really did, but it just fell flat for me in so many ways. Maybe I had read too much hype about it beforehand that I had very high expectations.

The premise and the story were good, I just wish I had cared more for the characters. The beginning of the novel had a strange passage of time-sometimes weeks passed within a few sentences where other times, when I felt a lot of time had passed it had only been a day. I felt the author was jumping around to much to start and I wanted more backstory.

I also had problems with the character development. The sisters were supposed to be evil and keeping secrets, Mary was supposed to be falling in love with Travis, but as a reader, I was told all of this information, never shown. Why did Mary love Travis? What drew her to him? Why should I fear the Sisterhood?

I've learned that I'm a very dialogue driven reader, and this book had little dialogue. I will enjoy books with little dialogue if I care about the characters, the settings, and I want to be immersed in the world I am reading. But I never felt that way about The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I was never made to care about Mary, her village, and what happened to them all.

That being said, the novel did pick up about 120 pages in, which is a 300 page book, seems a little too late for me as a reader to start want to be reading. This one wouldn't have passed my usual 50 page rule if I wasn't making myself finish it for my children's lit class. And there was something in the story that kept me reading, which was good. The plot picked up, but then it stalled out again after several chapters. Now we were back where we started with Mary dreaming about the ocean and little action happening. There's also a lot of time here for the reader to get drawn in to the romance between Mary and Travis, but that never happens and we're left wondering what it is they really see in each other.

For a book filled with zombies, I would expect more action in the plot. I also felt like there were a lot of things left unanswered, especially about the how's and why's and the Sisterhood, but that could be due to the fact this is the first of a series. I was surprised to read some reviews that called this one suspensful, because the suspense element was never there for me. I felt like there needed to be more mystery for this one to really work.

Overall, this was an interesting read, and I did like it-there were some very haunting parts which I thought were great. I found the writing to be rich, even if the story was lacking. Will I pick up the next book in the series? Maybe. Will I be in a hurry to read it? Probably not. I am interested in seeing this one transform to a movie though. I think it will work well on the big screen.

Full Disclosure: Personal copy that I won in a contest!


  1. I think that the genre should be fantasy/dystopian. I love dystopian novels and really wanted to like this but of all of the ones I read and loved last year (The Hunger Games and The Knife of Never Letting Go) this one was the one that gave me the bad dreams. It was just almost too disturbing to read.

  2. wow-wonderful review. I really loved it to start, but the plot did wind down in excitement for me too. The sequel looks very promising though!

  3. I liked it but my big problem was Mary. She was not a sympathetic main character at all.

  4. A book I've been wanting for a while. :) I'll probably pick it up soon.

  5. Jana-Thanks-you're right, dystopian is a perfect genre.

    Amy-I think the sequel looks promising too, so I'll most likely give it a try.

    Andrea-I agree, that was my biggest problem too-I never really cared for Mary.

    Jessica-I hope you like it!

  6. This has been on the TPR pile for ages. An interesting review. I was unaware a sequel was coming out.

  7. Thanks for your review, I think you're the first I see to have given it a low rating

  8. Thanks for your thoughts. I reviewed it a while ago and thought I was the only one who didn't like it! I agree with most of your opinions but unlike you, I just can't make myself read the sequel. But I'll be happy to read your review of it!

  9. I had a very similar reaction after reading this one. The main sticking point for me was the characters and the fact that I just didn't care about them. (In fact, Mary seriously annoyed me with her ceaseless talk/thoughts about the ocean.) I'm not sure yet if I'll read THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES, and if I do it won't be for some time after it's released.

  10. I had similar issues with hearing so much wonderful hype and then feeling let down after I actually read the book. Well...sort of read the book. I put it down after 100 pages, and wasn't going to finish it. But I decided to cheat and read the last couple of chapters. I like the premise, I just couldn't connect with it. Such a shame, as I think it has potential. I will definitely be looking for the film version, and I'll probably check out the next in the series 'just because.'
    Great review - thanks for putting into words what I felt but couldn't quite express. :)

  11. I want to ditto what celi.a said. :)

  12. i really had a hard time reading this one as well. Mary just drove me crazy most of the time. Thanks for the review.

  13. I had really mixed feelings about his one, too. On the one hand, I read it in basically one sitting, so it must have intrigued me on some level. But I think I kept reading because it felt like the book was always on the edge of a big reveal that never really got revealed. Also, I couldn't particularly like anyone, and I actively disliked Travis. What a weenie.

  14. Strange, I'm really shocked to hear that so many people didn't really like it. Personally, It's become one of my top three favorite books of all time.

    I thought is was simply genius. I'm kinda glad that it doesn't seem to have next 'Twilight' written all over it. Crazy fanbases are poison to the system.


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