REVIEW: #82 The Forest of Hands and Teeth


Reading time: 3 – 4 minutes

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
ISBN: 978-0385736817
Pages: 320

Synopsis: (Taken from

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?


The Forest of Hands and Teeth is probably one of the most recommended books on Twitter. You ask the twitterverse what dystopian novel you should read next and The Forest of Hands and Teeth is usually the one recommended. I don’t blame them. This book was oddly intensely interesting from the very beginning to the very end.

Keyword: Intense.

On the surface you have a typical dystopian society. They are shut off from the rest of civilization (to which they believe has perished) and they have a very specific way they like to do things. Everything from jobs to marriages are carefully decided for each member of Mary’s world. In a semi-old fashioned type of way, Mary expects to be “called” on by the boy she loves.

On the outside of this perfect little society are zombies — and lots and lots of zombies. Freakishly descriptive zombies that will give you the willies just reading about them. While Ryan never outwardly says “these creatures are zombies”, it’s pretty much a given. Even with the zombies on the outside, there is an odd sense of safety, as long as precautions are taken. No one is allowed near the fence.

The trouble is — Mary wants on the other side of the fence. She wants to find the ocean; a place that her mother had lovingly described in many childhood stories. The ocean seemed like a very real and sacred and magical place and no one believed it existed.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a story of love and survival. It’s dystopian meets zombies. It seems absolutely bizaare but it makes sense. It kind of reminds me of that movie with Will Smith (although the name doesn’t ring a bell at this very second). You know the one where disease takes over and turns people into zombies. It’s like a post-war zombie book… but good.
If you are into dystopian novels (or into zombies) I definitely recommend picking up The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Just — don’t read it too close to bed time.

  1. Anna says

    So interesting, so intense. I loved reading your thoughts on this one. I was so caught up in it. I completely fell into that universe while reading…yeah, definitely don’t want to read that one before bed. Too scary and too believable!

  2. Alyce says

    In response to your comment – I can delete the comments if you want to leave a new one. 🙂 I’ve done stuff like that before too – it’s such a pain!

  3. Meg says

    I’ve definitely seen this one recommended time and time again, but I’m still pretty nervous about reading a book centering on zombies! I scare pretty easy and am not sure I’d be able to make it through this one, haha.

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