The Forest of Hands and Teeth Book Review

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Mary lives in a world overrun by the Unconsecrated. Tucked away in her village, Mary lives a life of expectation, making plans on who she will marry and dreaming of the ocean. Then, when her mother is bitten and becomes one of the Unconsecrated, Mary's world is thrown upside down. Forced to live with the Sisterhood, a religious order of sisters whose secrets seem impregnable. Then Mary sees an outsider, proof that there is life outside her small village in the midst of Unconsecrated. But the outsider is only the beginning and when the fences are breached, Mary escapes into the Forest of Hands and Teeth desperate to find others and herself.

It's a great premise. Hundreds of years in the future humans struggle to survive amidst millions of zombies who never die. Oceans, cities, skyscrapers are barely believed stories passed down from generation to generation. A secret order of Sisters knows things that they never share with anyone including the fact that there are others out there.

Too bad Mary was the most irrational, impulsive, selfish, and stupid character I have ever met. In fact, I would go as far as saying that Mary is directly responsible for the deaths of most of her friends, if not her entire village due to her selfishness. She knows of the outsider Gabrielle, but never thinks to help the girl even though the sisterhood has proven that they are not above killing in order to keep their secrets. Mary only wishes to speak to Gabrielle so the girl can tell her about her beloved ocean. When Mary does decide to look for Gabriel, it is too late for the girl who has become one of the undead.

Now may be the time to mention the strange love triangle, if it can be called that. Follow this if you can: Mary likes Travis, but Travis is set to marry her best friend Cass. So Mary is all set to marry Harry, Travis' brother, but when her mother is bitten, Harry never comes for her and Mary is forced to join the Sisterhood because her brother refuses to take her in. While there, Travis hurts himself and Mary quickly falls in love with him. But Travis doesn't come for her either. Then, surprise, Harry says he will marry her, but Mary hates him for it, because she is really in love with Travis. And then things get all weird because Harry really likes Cass and for reasons unknown will not marry her. I mean how hard would it be for these two guys to just switch girls, girls the supposedly love, and be done with it?

Of course, the biggest issue with all of this is that Mary lacks communication skills. She would make a terrible wife because she always feels the need to keep secrets from everyone. REALLY IMPORTANT SECRETS! Secrets that could save everyone's life. Yet, Mary spends most of her time lamenting about her life, her love of Travis (which is really just an infatuation tied together with some lust), and her ocean. Mary is more of an enemy than any zombie.

This would actually make an interesting character if that was what the author was meaning to do, but I don't think that is the case here. We are supposed to empathize with Mary, feel her pain, throb with her lusts, and understand her. Instead, I was screaming at the character, quite literally yelling out loud, "You are so selfish. You deserve to be bitten by zombies."