Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth Book Review.

28 Jul

Review done by David Jooste

Hey hey guys and girls :-), I have some new reviews coming up for you, but the first one I just had to share with you was this book from Carrie Ryan.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth has already started to build a small cult following in the two months since its release, and after reading it myself I can see why people find it so entrapping.

Cover 1

Hardcover Version

But let’s get to the story itself so you can get an idea of what is in store for you. 😉

Now first of all, instead of giving you my usual abstract view of the story you can check out this excellent trailer that was made for the book :-). It is exactly how I imagined the atmosphere of the book.

All that I will say about the book is: 28 Days/Weeks Later vs. The Village :-o, or at least that is the image you get at the start of the book. But as the story progresses it broadens out and becomes a journey of fulfillment and self discovery and evolves into one of those stories you will remember for many, many years to come.

The first thing to take note of if you plan on reading this book is that it is a first person reader. At the start of the book this first person view is a bit difficult to follow. As the reader you feel a bit detached:-(, the main character Mary seems a little detached from here world and this in turn translates back to the reader. The good thing at least is that this does fade away eventually and you do become more involved in this world.

Now with the word of warning out of the way 🙂 let’s get to the story itself.

Our main character in The Forest of Hands and Teeth is Mary, a young girl in a post apocalyptic world where the unconsecrated, aka zombies, roam free and humans live in small communities surrounded by wire fences. The village Mary lives in follows a very simple pilgrim like life style, ruled by the church and the sisterhood, and protected by the guardians.

The main thing about this book that I loved 🙂 was the fact that even though these people are surrounded by the undead, this is not your usual survival zombie horror story. Instead this book is all about self discovery and never giving up on your dreams. Through the whole story the zombies remain an ever present entity in the background, pushing our characters forward, but they are not the reason for the story.

This story instead revolves around Mary’s quest to find the ocean, a concept that no one has believed in for hundreds of years :-o. The ocean also serves as a synonym for the concept of self discovery, the longing for something greater and the belief that no matter what one should never give up on your dreams, even though in the end Mary’s dreams cost her everything, her village, her love, her family, everything.

It’s been a really long time since I have read a story that had such deep meaning and brought out that deep need of humans to believe there is more to life than just the everyday march of conformity.

As for the characters, Carrie supply a small collection throughout the story and each and every one of these characters plays an important part in shaping and forming the person that Mary becomes. Most of them though are only around for short parts of the story and thus they do not show much development.

Mary on the other had goes through a roller coaster ride of character development from being a young woman to becoming a sister, becoming a wife, a fugitive and the eventual woman she turns out to be.

Carrie truly gave a great deal of attention to the development of Mary and her growth throughout the story, and the first person view help draw you as the reader into this development. As you progress through the story you see how her thoughts change, how her viewpoints change and how she comes to adjust her feelings and thoughts as she progresses through her journey of self discovery.

Another interesting aspect to this story is the role of Religion and the conflict that Mary experiences when she starts to doubt her faith. It plays a prominent role in how she develops and how she sees the world, and causes a great deal of internal conflict for her that she must learn to deal with.

And at the end of this story lies a culmination that some say disappoints and others say suits the story very well. Personally I say it does leave a few loose ends but overall it gives the image of an ending of what has been and the beginning of something new, perfect in a world where even death does not mean an end to what has been. 🙂

This was truly a great novel to read and a must for any book case. Personally I’m not the biggest fan of zombie novels but this was a really good journey. I will definitely read it again and would say it’s one of those books that you should read a second time to get the full effect of Carrie’s novel.

I will definitely give this a 7/10; I would have given an 8 if it had not been for the bit of difficulty at the start with the first person view. 🙂

If you want to find out more about Carrie Ryan then you can find her website here,
or if you would like to buy the book our SA readers can find it here,
UK readers can find it here,
and US readers can find it here.

Cheers for now. 😉

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Posted by on July 28, 2009 in Reviews


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