The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Carrie Ryan)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is the first novel by Carrie Ryan, and the first book in a trilogy.

Mary grows up in a town surrounded by The Unconsecrated: the dead come back to life. Town life is shaped and run by the Sisterhood, who not only control the religious aspects, but pretty much everything. Mary’s life changes drastically when her mother gets infected though and joins her father in that fate. Mary’s brother Jed turns her back on her to focus on his wife. And even Harry, who had started courting Mary (even though she’s in love with his brother Travis), doesn’t come to her aid. So mary has to join the sisterhood. But that just means that her life is getting too small for her even more quickly than before.

I did not like Mary one bit, yet I enjoyed reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It’s a quick read, it has interesting world-building but I don’t really see the potential for an entire series, so I don’t think I’ll continue reading the other books.


I really liked the fact that the book doesn’t start with The Return as it’s called in the book, meaning the outbreak of the zombie virus. Rather they start at a point where society has already re-ordered itself for quite a while and the way we lived has only become a distant memory, or rather more of a myth. I thought that was pretty interesting.

But I couldn’t stand Mary. Especially when it came to her relationship with Travis and Harry. It’s not only that I’m pretty sick and tired of love triangles that refuse to be triangles at all, and aren’t necessary anyway and just don’t work at all. [But that’s completely the case here.] I also couldn’t help but roll my eyes at Mary’s outbursts of passion regarding Travis. It just didn’t feel believable. But generally Mary just made me want to strangle her more often than not. And that’s never a good thing for a protagonist.

Surprisingly I was very invested into the story despite that. I wanted to know what was going to happen. Mostly out of a desire to discover more about that world than wanting to know what happened to the characters, though. Either way, it was very enjoyable and satisfying.

That is, until the ending. [SPOILER] I wished that Ryan would have had the guts to let this book end badly. I was really hoping for Mary to become a zombie and then see the ocean already zombiefied. That she would arrive there unscathed, especially after that last attack, struck me as unlikely to say the least. I also think that this negative ending would have fitted the mood better. And that she just left Harry, Cass and Jacob was a pretty dickish move on her part. [/SPOILER]

Summarising: if you manage to like Mary better than I did, you’ll probably enjoy this one a lot.

Speaking of Zombies: did you see the special episode of our webseries yet?

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