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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by the blurb - this will be a great series.
I wasn't expecting too much from "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" after reading a few reviews from disappointed readers and after reading 50 or so pages I was beginning to think I should have listened to them and avoided this one. BUT THEN, it suddenly improved and I couldn't put it down! So with that said, it's fair to say that this book is a bit a chewy to begin with,...
Published on 3 May 2012 by Amazon Customer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure
The unconsecrated are never alone. You are...

It's been a while since I read this book. I think originally I quite liked it but since then and thinking about it I have changed my opinion a little. It's a good book. It's quite unusual in the sense that it has taken the idea of `The Village' (the film) and placed it in a zombie novel.

It was quite well...
Published on 28 April 2012 by I. English


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by the blurb - this will be a great series., 3 May 2012
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Amazon Customer (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I wasn't expecting too much from "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" after reading a few reviews from disappointed readers and after reading 50 or so pages I was beginning to think I should have listened to them and avoided this one. BUT THEN, it suddenly improved and I couldn't put it down! So with that said, it's fair to say that this book is a bit a chewy to begin with, but persevere because it's so worth it, and here's why:

The world of "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" is unlike our own. Surrounded by fences like caged animals the villagers of Mary's, our main protagonist, town are trapped. Or are they? The Sisterhood holds many secrets except one - if that fence is breached there will death. Because outside of the fence lies the forest, and inside the forest are the Unconsecrated. The unconsecrated are infected humans; zombies desperate to infect the living. The Sisterhood, those controlling the villagers, promise that the village is safe. The fences are patrolled by the guardians. They cannot get in. That is, until the fence is breached, the alarms bare and Mary must make a decision. Fight or run.

I liked Mary. Sometimes. I liked her because she had ideas, she believed that there was more than just her village left - they couldn't possibly be the only living people left to preserve humanity. She's extremely inquisitive, which is great because we readers want to find out as much as we can about the secrets the Sisterhood are keeping. But sometimes I really wanted her to shut up. She's a very restless character, never content with things even when they're working out for her, and this can be frustrating because the story sort of flat-lines whilst she rants on about the ocean (Growing up Mary's mother told her stories of the ocean and Mary wants to believe that the ocean is real and it does exist).

Carrie Ryan's done a great job in my opinion of creating a believable zombie apocalypse. BUT, I wish she'd have explained how the infection was started, why one of the zombies is much faster than the others and how the village was initially formed but I suppose these things may be better explained in the following books. It was great to have a quick extract from the next of her books in the series "The Dead-Tossed Waves" and by the looks of things it's set quite a while after Mary's story - this is such a good idea! It's not often that series are set much later in the characters' futures; most of the time they pick up almost straight after where the last one finished so I think the series has promise.

Overall, a good read if a little chewy to begin with. I recommend this, I'd even read it again! Hope this helps.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Non zombie, zombie book!, 8 Dec. 2011
I loved that this was a story about zombies where the focus was on the living. Mary lives in a simple time where the focus is on surviving. The Unconsecrated (zombies) are not a recent development but something everyone has lived with all of their lives. Living in a village surrounded by fences Mary's daily life is simple and full of chores, but if the warning bell rings there has been a breach and everyone must get to elevated platforms built into trees to stay away from the dead. To ensure survival the sisterhood demand that everyone marries as soon as they are ready. Mary has the weary task of marrying someone who loves her even if she loves someone else. Soon Mary starts asking questions such as who gave the Sisterhood their power, what are they hiding and what are behind the gates in the village?

From very early on in this novel I felt there were similar tones to the M. Night Shyamalan film "The Village". You have that feeling of being isolated and only knowing the village but suspecting that there must be something else outside through the Forest of Hands and Feet. The writing in this book made me fell that I was full immersed in the life (even if I was lying on a sun lounger beside a pool!!) and was feeling all of the doubts along with Mary.

I loved the characters in this book, well I didn't LOVE them all, I thought there were some nasty characters, but I thought they were all well written. The story does not rush along either. I read this book in a day, but I felt like I had been reading it much longer as the story took it's time to unfold and develop. There were certain parts to the story, where she would find something which we would be familiar with but was completely foreign to Mary, which made me want to shout at the book. I thought it was a really interesting concept that whatever education they had was focused on the present and how to survive, and never looking at the past.

I can't wait to pick up the sequels to this book and see what is to become of the world we live in.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the forest of hands and teeth, 3 Aug. 2011
By 
Ali (Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Hardcover)
Ever seen the film The Village? This book reminds me of that film. But it's so much better. The world building, the intrigue, the questions - how did the Unconsecrated become infected? Why is Mary's village so secluded? Are they the only people left? What are the Sisterhood and Guardians hiding? - are all things The Village wish it had.

Do we get answers to the above questions? Yes and no. The story isn't really about that though. It's tightly focused on Mary and her mother's stories of the ocean and her own dreams of life beyond the fences which keep the Unconsecrated out but also keeps the villagers in. I really took to Mary as a character. Sure, she's selfish. She wants a marriage made from love rather than convenience and bloodlines. She wants to leave the village and, when she gets that chance, she grabs it with a sheer bloody mindedness that I admired. Would I, would you, be any different in her situation? She may die or become one of the Unconsecrated but that's her choice and maybe it is better than what is a mere existence in a village that will, eventually, be breached by the Unconsecrated anyway. However, her actions are not without consequences and the end of this book both broke my heart and gave me hope.

The Sisterhood were brilliantly sinister. They keep the village under a tight leash of rules and religion (the sinister feeling may just be me, though, as I tend to balk at both rules and religion) and we begin to learn that they know more than they let on. Sadly, this is one of the storylines that wasn't resolved in this book, and I really wanted it to be, because of Mary's first person narration. Maybe it will be revealed in later books. Maybe I'll never find out the answer because Mary never finds out the answer.

Unfortunately, there is a bigger damp squib for me than possible unresolved storylines - the love triangle. I hate love triangles. They feel forced to me, rarely natural. Here was no different. Mary is in love with Travis, who is betrothed to her friend Cass. Meanwhile, Harry, brother of Travis, is deeply in love with, and betrothed to, Mary. Just ugh. Yet, when Mary and Travis get the chance of being alone for an extended period, NOTHING HAPPENS! I couldn't get my head around that. She loves him, he loves her, there are zombies vying for brains and they don't, y'know, break the tension? I know it's YA, and sex is rarely in YA, but I needed something to make me believe the feelings they apparently had for each other. And, for all I like Mary, I can't see what the attraction to her is as it is clear that the village, a husband and children will never be enough for her; she'll always want the ocean.

The writing was suitably creepy with a sense of impending something. Not so much doom, although it was there, but something else I can't quite put my finger on. I found it to be a book full of tension; I would turn the pages and finish chapters with my shoulders up around my ears, wanting to know what happened next. Ignoring the odd sporadic bout of flowery language, it was a well written story. Occasionally, it felt repetitive, there's only so much fenced off paths to follow and woe-is-me-I-love-Travis one can take.

Despite the fact that this book had a few flaws, I still enjoyed it and highly recommend it.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A zombie novel with brains, 9 July 2009
This review is from: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Hardcover)
Mary lives in a village surrounded by the Unconsecrated (essentially zombies) who claw at the fence keeping them out. Her options are stark - she can wait for a boy to claim her for his bride or she can join the Sisterhood (a quasi-religious organisation who give the village its morals and control its history). Mary hopes that Travis will claim her but is instead claimed by his brother, Henry. When her mother is involved in a tragic accident, Mary is taken in by the Sisterhood, where she becomes embroiled within their secrets, including the discovery of a mysterious girl called Gabrielle, who Mary is sure is from outside the village. As Mary tries to discover the truth about the world outside, the Unconsecrated break through the village's defences and Mary is sent on a terrifying quest for survival.

There is much to admire in this debut novel. Ryan's village is a complex and highly structured world and there's a strong mystery surrounding the Sisterhood, personified through Sister Tabitha a zealot who will do anything and sacrifice anyone to keep the village safe. The constant moans of the Unconsecrated is a chilling reminder of the dangers surrounding Mary and her friends.

The set piece scenes are excellent - notably a heartbreaking moment involving Mary and her mother and a key scene where Mary and her friends are trapped on a platform being consumed by fire while the Unconsecrated wait below. Mary's an interesting character, driven by an irresistible curiosity to see the ocean that her mother has told about and troubled by her religious doubts. It's refreshing to read a YA novel with a love triangle where the female's wants are put above those of the male characters.

Although Mary's narrative voice is strong, Travis, Henry, Cass and Jed are painted with broader brushstrokes and Mary tells us of her relationship with them rather than showing it. Also frustrating is the fact that the Sisterhood's secrets are never fully uncovered with the book becoming a bleak struggle for survival as Mary and her friends search for the world she believes is outside while being harried by the Unconsecrated.

Ryan's unsentimental about her characters and many do not survive to the final page. This may put some readers off, but the story ends on a note of hope and I eagerly await the sequel to see what will happen to Mary next.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracker crossover novel, 20 July 2009
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Hardcover)
OK to be blunt the book blurb really didn't speak volumes to me, yet seeing as I was at a loss for a few hours I picked up the tale and decided to see where it ran to. I was not only pleasantly surprised to see how it unfurled but was quickly sucked into the world that the characters inhabit. Whilst many would write this tale off as a YA book, the themes and the writing style will also quickly hook the adult reader into this world. Its edgy, its got teen angst and love but most of all its got zombies in the bucketload. Yeah we love zombies and quickly were dragged around with the characters as they sought to preserve their lives in a Romero meets Darabont offering. It's absolutely cracking and definitely a tale to introduce the YA to the adult market, especially if horror is their genre of choice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A zombie-filled dystopian that's well worth a read, 11 Aug. 2012
By 
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Books4reviews.)
Mary lives in a small village surrounded by a fence. On the other side of the fence are the `unconsecrated'- the walking dead who crave human flesh and will stop at nothing to get it. Mary has lived in the village all her life, and the only things she knows of the world outside are stories that her mother has told her, of oceans of water, and buildings so tall that they touch the sky.
Mary has only two dreams for the future; the first is that she marries Travis - a boy in the village that she secretly has feelings for, and the second that she see the ocean. Neither of these look like they will ever come true though, after Mary's mother is bitten and becomes one of the unconsecrated. Turned out by her brother and forced to join the `sisterhood' in the cathedral, it seems that Mary will be a slave for the rest of her life, until one day the alarm sounds, the fences have been breached by the unconsecrated, and Mary and a few of her closest friends are the only survivors.
What else is out there though? Were her mother's stories true? Is there an ocean out there and buildings that touch the sky? Or are Mary and her friends really the only surviving humans on the planet?

I really enjoyed this book. It was creepy in places, but so honest and raw in others. I loved Mary, (although Mary doesn't really sound like the sort of name for a girl like her!). I loved her unending faith that there was something more out there, and that she was meant to see the ocean. I loved how she continually pushed, and tried to make her dreams come true, even in the face of oppression and even death. At times she made some silly decisions, but don't we all, and in the circumstances she managed unbelievably well.

As for the other characters, I have mixed feelings about quite a few of them. Firstly - Jed, Mary's brother. Jed made me so mad! I really couldn't believe that with both their parents dead he could be so selfish and heartless as to cast Mary out of their parent's home, and tell her that she must go and join the sisterhood because nobody else wanted her. How awful is that? No matter how much he was grieving, Mary didn't deserve that, and I found him to be quite selfish and unfair.

Travis( the boy that Mary had feelings for), was engaged to her best friend. While it was a little unclear as to whether he knew how she felt about him when this arrangement was made, it seemed unfair the way he continued to string her along, right up until their intended marriage day (Travis to Cass, and Harry to Mary), all the time telling her that he would change his mind and `come for her' when in reality it seemed that he would do no such thing. I liked Travis in some ways, but he really needed to make a choice and stick with it, no matter what that choice was.

Harry (Travis' brother, and the boy who eventually `spoke' for Mary) was a character that we didn't really get to know all that well. He had feelings for Mary, although the feelings were not returned, and though he did eventually speak up and say that he would like to marry her, I couldn't help but puzzle over his motivations, especially when he knew how Mary felt about Travis.

Cass - Mary's best friend; was another puzzling character. Whilst engaged to Travis, she was secretly in love with Harry! The strangest thing about this situation was though, that when Mary suggested that they just swap husbands-to-be, Cass says NO, and tells Mary that she will marry Harry or else, because she doesn't want Mary to break Harry's heart! Bizarre I tell you.

I liked the storyline in this book, it was well paced, and the twists and turns were not easy to guess at all. Some of the events in this book were heart breaking, and I'm not sure I'll ever forget this story. I'm not really sure what can possibly happen in the second two books in this series, but I have to say that I'm excited to find out!
Overall; a zombie-filled dystopian that's well worth a read.
9 out of 10.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 16 Jun. 2012
By 
R. Wood "Nightlock" (Newcastle, England) - See all my reviews
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'The Forest of Hands and Teeth' is far more complex than its blurb insinuates. It successfully creates a love story in one of the most unlikely situations you could - initially - think of: a zombie apocalypse. With its unique take on the zombie tale, 'The Forest of Hands and Teeth', with its narcotic, addictive prose is a breath of fresh air in a genre that has become littered with (pardon the pun) deadwood tales. Ryan accomplishes what few authors have done before her - making every chapter end on a cliffhanger which is in no way contrived.

The zombies (or Unconsecrated) themselves are a background 'character', though their threat is ever-present and their sudden, frenzied attacks are ferocious. The real shining star of the story is Mary, a teenage girl who is unable to decide what and who she wants in life. A stark reminder that even in the darkest of times, surrounded by death and the threat of infection, life finds a way to shine a light. Though several of the novel's characters seem to serve only as an instrument through which to uncover Mary's deeper hopes, dream and confusion, the novel itself is fantastically driven.

Ryan has created a dark, haunting world which demonstrates humanity's unending, incessant desire and will to survive against the odds. Both moving and terrifying, 'The Forest of Hands and Teeth' shines like a torch through the haze of similar though inferior post-apocalyptic zombie tales. The novel leaves the reader thirty for more, to uncover the secrets that have been so tantalisingly close throughout. However, this is simply another superb narrative technique by Ryan. Read the sequels 'The Dead-Tossed Waves' and 'The Dark and Hollow Places' and all will fall into place, giving you that "a-ha!" moment that makes all the best series worth reading!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure, 28 April 2012
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I. English - See all my reviews
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The unconsecrated are never alone. You are...

It's been a while since I read this book. I think originally I quite liked it but since then and thinking about it I have changed my opinion a little. It's a good book. It's quite unusual in the sense that it has taken the idea of `The Village' (the film) and placed it in a zombie novel.

It was quite well written, from what I remember, and it's got a very interesting storyline with a GREAT twist at the end, even though I was kind of expecting it in the first half of the book the second half made me change my mind so completely that by the time it came I didn't believe it would come at all.

My only problem with the book was the characters.

Mary: For a girl raised in a village where the women are in charge Mary, and let's face it most of the few female characters in this book, was really kind of pathetic. There were a few instances where she took control, but most of the time she sat around and waited for the men to do something manly that would control the direction of her life. She never really made many choices for herself, or the ones she did were always kind of s***. And what's with her whole desperation to see the sea? It was the one thing in her life she wouldn't give up on or let guys dictate and it was kind of a stupid thing to be obsessed about in my opinion, and don't get me wrong I love the see but it's not worth everything they put themselves through.

Harry: He felt like a really 2D character. Yes, he loved Mary, but aside from being slightly cruel and doing anything he can to get her there really was nothing else to his personality.

Travis: Travis was also a really flat love interest. He kept deciding he didn't want Mary only to turn round and go after her anyway. If he had just been true to himself to begin with then Mary, Travis, Harry and Cass may have had chances to be happy before the `BIG EVENT' that ruins the equilibrium in the village. I also didn't feel that there was much connection between him and Mary. Yes she thinks she loves him, but she would sacrifice him for the sea and he only loves her because she loves the sea. Ok...

The rest of the other characters annoyed me too for the most part, or once I started to like them they died.

So all in all I liked this book but the characters just fell flat for me. I think I will read the next book though. I already feel like I like those characters from the short extract I've read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my top ten books., 5 Oct. 2011
By 
J Juckes "Hades2" (, UK) - See all my reviews
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I read this book about a year ago, it is one of my all time favourite books. The story has stayed with me - which is the sign of a great book. I have raved about this book to my friends and none of them have said they didn't like it. It may have taken some convincing for them to read a book with zombies in. I too was very sceptical. But this is not a gore fest book. This book mainly looks upon the people who are trapped inside their world, with the zombies on the outside.

I must say when I first picked up this book I was a bit put off with the zombie theme. Zombies just freak me out, something to do with the rotting flesh and mindless moaning urrrggghh. But I have to say this book blew me away. Totally absorbing and I read this in record time. I will definitely read this book again and again.

The story follows Mary a girl who is part of a village fenced away from the unconsecrated - zombies. Mary's mother tells stories of an ocean far away where there is so much water it is beyond belief. Throughout her life Mary has dreamed of seeing this ocean. But the one thing that comes between her dreams is the Forest of Hands and Teeth which is full of the unconsecrated. Maybe there is no life in the world other than her own secured village, which is run by the Guardians and the Sisterhood. They are a poweful force who stop at nothing to secure the villages safety. But all is not as it seems............

I can highly recommend this book. I have now read all of the books in the series and they are all just as good. My only niggle is that a few loose ends were left between the first book and the second book Dead Tossed Waves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars chillingly realistic YA-approved, 15 July 2011
I've rarely come across a novel whose concept and scope is so powerful. I bought this for my teen daughter, but read it first myself. Although some might say (and have) that the some of the scenes are disturbing, my view is that teens don't like to be talked down to, and this novel certainly does not do that. In fact, Ryan gives teens a strong voice, a belief that they, too, could succeed against all odds, that faith is stronger than fact and ultimately, that questioning authority is the path of the young heart. I, too, felt the "Village" (M Knight Shylaman) resonating in this story, especially since we spend so much time in the village before the breach occurs, filled with it's mysteries and inherent claustrophobia. Ryan takes no prisoners, with principal characters falling by the wayside, the reader really does get a feeling that nothing is sacred, no-one is safe. What a way to start a trilogy! The only other recent novel which has captured my daughter's imagination so completely is, of course, "The Hunger Games" (Suzanne Collins). "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" is a book I wish I had written myself...
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The Forest of Hands and Teeth
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (Hardcover - 1 July 2009)
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