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July 23, 2010 / Chersti Nieveen

book review: the forest of hands and teeth

Kar-en  \ k(a)-ren\ – noun

1. A mother who can toe type at a whopping 5 WPM when required
2. An aspiring YA fantasy writer who somehow hasn’t quit yet
3. One who can’t possibly be a vampire because sunshine is an essential requirement for happiness

Archaic: A Southern girl, bless her heart, who studied English and editing at Brigham Young University.
Originhttp://karenmkrueger.wordpress.com/

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Ryan, Carrie. The Forest of Hands and Teeth. New York: Delacorte Press, 2009.

“What are you doing?” I try to scream but my voice is too weak, too breathy. “Why are you doing this to me?” I hiccup as I try to draw in air. The Unconcecrated are so close. Everywhere I turn they are desperate for me, writhing against the fence.

Tears pour from my eyes, drip from my chin. “Please,” I whisper, slipping back to my hands and knees, crawling toward Sister Tabitha, grasping at her black tunic. “Please don’t leave me here.” I am like a child begging her mother.

“There is always a choice, Mary,” Sister Tabitha says to me, standing with her feet braced against the steps, the lower half of her body still concealed below ground. “It is what makes us human, what separates us from them.”

Mary dreams of the ocean–a place her mother told her about but she has never seen. But surrounded by a forest full of the Unconcecrated who have an undying thirst for human blood, she can only imagine what the world outside the fences is like, can only wonder if her village really contains the last few remaining humans on earth.

The Review

While reading this book, I found myself pulled along by the same questions Mary has–I want to know if there are other people left in the world. I want to know if there could possibly be a place where the Unconcecrated don’t plague humans. And further from Mary’s questions, I wanted to know if there was some sort of cure out there. From the beginning, the strong desire for answers kept me reading.

Unfortunately, the characters themselves were often uninteresting to me. Until about halfway through the novel, I was unsatisfied with the romance. When I read, I want to be in love with the main character’s love interest, and in this case, I wasn’t. It was sexy, but shallow. However, at some point I realized that perhaps that was the point. Mary’s desire for Travis seemed to reflect the Unconcecrated’s desire for blood–it was just a need. She had to learn to actually love. After realizing this, I was able to put aside my disinterest in the romance and really appreciate Carrie Ryan’s craftsmanship in writing this story.

Ryan has some wonderfully horrific scenes that help to paint this rather hopeless world. I felt everything from revulsion to pity for the Unconcecrated. And while the world was hopeless, I didn’t close the book feeling depressed. Throughout the book, Mary works so hard to merely survive, but in the end I felt like she has found a way to live. I agree with Melissa Marr’s (Wicked Lovely) review; she says that opening this book “is like cracking Pandora’s box: a blur of darkness and a precious bit of hope pour out.”

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