The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

by Carrie Ryan

Genre: YA Horror
Published: March 10th, 2009
by Delacorte Press




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 by so much death?


The Forest of Hands and Teeth has a bit of everything – zombies, romance, and action – so there really is no question about why it is such a popular addition to the young adult genre. For me, however, it just lacks the extra emotional spark that transforms a good book into a great book.

Mary has lived her whole life in a fenced village that protects residents from the Unconsecrated (bloodthirsty zombies). But when the Unconsecrated manage to break down the fence that protects the village, Mary is forced to flee the only home she has known.

The story’s flaw is in the characterization. The supporting characters are one-dimensional and have no depth, making it almost impossible to distinguish them from each other.

Mary is the only character with any development to her, but, unfortunately, she is characterized as being selfish and indecisive, which makes her a difficult protagonist to like.

There is a love triangle here (between Mary and two brothers), and I never really felt emotionally invested in it. Like all the other supporting characters in the story, neither brother had any personality or characterization. This lack of characterization 1). made it virtually impossible to distinguish them apart and 2). made it difficult to understand what exactly Mary saw in them. As a result, the love triangle ended up feeling extremely bland and unnecessary.

There is also a lack of backstory as to how the world was formed. We are never told how Mary’s village was built, how the Unconsecrated came to be, or what caused the apocalypse in the first place.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a good book if you’re so engrossed in the action that you can’t see the obvious flaws it has. Unfortunately, I just expected a little more from it.


Leave a Reply