Book Summary: In this post-apocalyptic horror/romance, Mary lives in a village surrounded by a fence that holds out the Unconsecrated--zombies. As things often do in these types of stories, everything goes south quickly for Mary when her mother is bitten, and then Mary gets stuck in the workings of a dystopian-esque society. With a love triangle and a journey into the dangerous and unknown, Mary ends up having to face the forest of hands and teeth, which is where all the zombies reside.
APA Reference: Ryan, C. (2009). The forest of hands and teeth. New York: Delacorte Press.
Impressions: Zombies are incredibly popular in this day and age, and there is a high standard of quality that goes with the genre when it comes to serious attempts. At the same time, dystopians and love triangles are also incredibly popular, at least in the young adult world, and the standard of quality there is not so high. Fortunately, Ryan does more than just meet in the middle. Her writing style is gripping, mysterious, and suspenseful. The fact the book is written in first person, present tense allows an extra fear factor that anything could happen and the main character could potentially die, as well--something that cannot happen when writing in past tense, and something that's far more personal than third person. Overall, this has a lot of elements young adults look for in supernatural fiction and easily appeals to the target demographic.
Professional Review: Gr 9 Up-- Mary knows little about the past and why the world now contains two types of people: those in her village and the undead outside the fence, who prey upon the flesh of the living. The Sisters protect their village and provide for the continuance of the human race. After her mother is bitten and joins the Unconsecrated, Mary is sent to the Sisters to be prepared for marriage to her friend Harry. But then the fences are breached and the life she has known is gone forever. Mary; Harry; Travis, whom Mary loves but who is betrothed to her best friend; her brother and his wife; and an orphaned boy set out into the unknown to search for safety, answers to their questions, and a reason to go on living. In this sci-fi/horror novel, the suspense that Ryan has created from the very first page on entices and tempts readers so that putting the book down is not an option. The author skillfully conceals and reveals just enough information to pique curiosity while also maintaining an atmosphere of creepiness that is expected in a zombie story. Some of the descriptions of death and mutilation of both the Unconsecrated and the living are graphic. The story is riveting, even though it leaves a lot of questions to be explained in the sequel.
Banna, D. (2009). The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Book). [Review of the book The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan]. School Library Journal, 55(5), 117-118.
Library Uses: Headlining a zombie/monster display for Halloween.