The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

3.59 (82,510 ratings by Goodreads)
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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, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
Now, 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 in so much death? [STAR] A bleak but gripping story...Poignant and powerful.-Publishers Weekly, Starred A postapocalyptic romance of the first order, elegantly written from title to last line.-Scott Westerfeld, author of the Uglies series and Leviathan Intelligent, dark, and bewitching, The Forest of Hands and Teeth transitions effortlessly between horror and beauty. Mary's world is one that readers will not soon forget.-Cassandra Clare, bestselling author of City of Bones

Opening The Forest of Hands and Teeth is like cracking Pandora's box: a blur of darkness and a precious bit of hope pour out. This is a beautifully crafted, page-turning, powerful novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it.-Melissa Marr, bestselling author of Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange

Dark and sexy and scary. Only one of the Unconsecrated could put this book down.-Justine Larbalestier, author of How to Ditch Your Fairy
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Paperback | 310 pages
  • 140 x 206 x 18mm | 259g
  • Bantam Doubleday Dell
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0385736827
  • 9780385736824
  • 54,083

Review quote

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, February 2, 2009:
"Mary's observant, careful narration pulls readers into a bleak but gripping story of survival and the endless capacity of humanity to persevere . . .Fresh and riveting." Starred review, School Library Journal, May 2009:
"[T]he 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."
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About Carrie Ryan

CARRIE RYAN is the New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy that includes The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves, The Dark and Hollow Places, and the original ebook Hare Moon. She has edited the short story anthology Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction and contributed to many other story collections herself, including Zombies vs. Unicorns, Kiss Me Deadly, and Enthralled. Her work has been translated into over eighteen languages and her first novel is in production as a major motion picture. Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie is a graduate of Williams College and Duke University School of Law. A former litigator, she now writes full time and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Visit her at
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Rating details

82,510 ratings
3.59 out of 5 stars
5 28% (22,808)
4 29% (23,885)
3 25% (20,394)
2 12% (10,028)
1 7% (5,395)

Our customer reviews

(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Books4reviews.) Mary lives in a small village surrounded by a fence. On the other side of the fence are the 'unconsecrated'- the walking dead who crave human flesh and will stop at nothing to get it. Mary has lived in the village all her life, and the only things she knows of the world outside are stories that her mother has told her, of oceans of water, and buildings so tall that they touch the sky. Mary has only two dreams for the future; the first is that she marries Travis - a boy in the village that she secretly has feelings for, and the second that she see the ocean. Neither of these look like they will ever come true though, after Mary's mother is bitten and becomes one of the unconsecrated. Turned out by her brother and forced to join the 'sisterhood' in the cathedral, it seems that Mary will be a slave for the rest of her life, until one day the alarm sounds, the fences have been breached by the unconsecrated, and Mary and a few of her closest friends are the only survivors. What else is out there though? Were her mother's stories true? Is there an ocean out there and buildings that touch the sky? Or are Mary and her friends really the only surviving humans on the planet? I really enjoyed this book. It was creepy in places, but so honest and raw in others. I loved Mary, (although Mary doesn't really sound like the sort of name for a girl like her!). I loved her unending faith that there was something more out there, and that she was meant to see the ocean. I loved how she continually pushed, and tried to make her dreams come true, even in the face of oppression and even death. At times she made some silly decisions, but don't we all, and in the circumstances she managed unbelievably well. As for the other characters, I have mixed feelings about quite a few of them. Firstly - Jed, Mary's brother. Jed made me so mad! I really couldn't believe that with both their parents dead he could be so selfish and heartless as to cast Mary out of their parent's home, and tell her that she must go and join the sisterhood because nobody else wanted her. How awful is that? No matter how much he was grieving, Mary didn't deserve that, and I found him to be quite selfish and unfair. Travis( the boy that Mary had feelings for), was engaged to her best friend. While it was a little unclear as to whether he knew how she felt about him when this arrangement was made, it seemed unfair the way he continued to string her along, right up until their intended marriage day (Travis to Cass, and Harry to Mary), all the time telling her that he would change his mind and 'come for her' when in reality it seemed that he would do no such thing. I liked Travis in some ways, but he really needed to make a choice and stick with it, no matter what that choice was. Harry (Travis' brother, and the boy who eventually 'spoke' for Mary) was a character that we didn't really get to know all that well. He had feelings for Mary, although the feelings were not returned, and though he did eventually speak up and say that he would like to marry her, I couldn't help but puzzle over his motivations, especially when he knew how Mary felt about Travis. Cass - Mary's best friend; was another puzzling character. Whilst engaged to Travis, she was secretly in love with Harry! The strangest thing about this situation was though, that when Mary suggested that they just swap husbands-to-be, Cass says NO, and tells Mary that she will marry Harry or else, because she doesn't want Mary to break Harry's heart! Bizarre I tell you. I liked the storyline in this book, it was well paced, and the twists and turns were not easy to guess at all. Some of the events in this book were heart breaking, and I'm not sure I'll ever forget this story. I'm not really sure what can possibly happen in the second two books in this series, but I have to say that I'm excited to find out! Overall; a zombie-filled dystopian that's well worth a read. 9 out of more
by Sarah Elizabeth
Also reviewed on my blog, The Vintage Bookworm. ( So some of you may know that the first time I attempted to read this--about a year ago--that I didn't finish it. I couldn't get into it. I guess I just wasn't in the mood for it then. I told myself I'd try again because it had been on my TBR list for a while and I had heard a lot of great--though some were mixed--reviews about it. It was a very popular book back in 2009. It really was for a while, actually, but then just fell off the radar. Hopefully my review will bring it back up! I borrowed this eBook from the library and it did take me a little bit to get back into this story, but I kept pushing. It was kind of annoying, but at the same time you wanted to keep reading. The writing flows well and keeps you reading. It took me a bit to get into the fact that a lot of this book is mostly descriptions and the character kind of just telling you her story. There isn't much dialogue for a while until maybe halfway through the book where it picks up. But after a while I honestly did get used to it. The zombies in this book are scary. They are also called "The Unconsecrated" instead of zombies. They are terrifying, just like a good zombie is supposed to be. The people in this book has grown up with zombies all around them. It's their everyday life to go about their day with zombies all around them, just over the fence line. There are "guardians" standing watch near the gates, ready to signal the horn when there is a breach and everyone has to run to the nearest platform to get high up into the trees to safety. This is way into the future, after "The Return" where the disease has wiped off most of the planet and there are villages. There are also seasons where teen women are supposed to be "called" on and the next season they are to be married. You have very little options if you aren't called for, which the main character, Mary, isn't in the beginning and she has to go stay with "The Sisterhood". The Sisterhood is basically a church full of nuns that runs the whole village. Everyone thinks that The Sisterhood knows everything and that everyone should abide by their rules. I liked Mary. I loved that she was a dreamer, she knew deep down that there was something more out there and she was determined to get it. But that was also something I hated about her. She let her dreaming go so far to make her selfish. She wished so much for the guy she loved to love her back and to be with him, and she wished for so many other things, and when she finally did get them they weren't enough for her! She jeopardized everything that she had hoped for for something that may or may not be real. That bugged me to no end and completely broke my heart. I liked most of the other characters as well, though most of them had something about them that really did annoy me. I didn't like her brother Jed at first, I wanted to scream at him, and then Cass as well. I really liked Cass in the beginning, but toward the end when she started changing I really didn't . Though I couldn't blame her for wanting to go back to the safety of things she had always known. I really liked Travis. He was my favorite character. And Harry was okay, though I like him better with Cass. =D Overall, this was a great story. It completely destroyed my heart, but it was great and I can't wait to read the next book. If you love bad zombies and want a serious and suspenseful book to read, read this! The suspense definitely makes your heart race. This is not a zombie book to miss!show more
by Amanda
Previously published on my blog: Dark and haunting, The Forest of Hands and Teeth was an emotional rollercoaster. At times, fear consumed me, and at other moments, I was overwhelmed with sorrow. But I was certain about one thing: The Forest of Hands and Teeth is an unforgettable novel, one that may catch up to you in your dreams ... or your nightmares. When I first cracked open this novel, I was struck by how similar the world of the Forest of Hands and Teeth was to the world of Ann Aguirre's Enclave. However, before you begin pointing fingers at Carrie Ryan, note that her novel was published in 2009, whereas Enclave was published in 2011. In addition, I did find differences in the two novels; for example, the zombies in the Forest were dubbed "the Unconsecrated" and were created by "Infecting" a human with a single bite, whereas those in Enclave were called Freaks and had no known origin. The societies in both books were also incredibly different; the Forest included the Sisterhood and the Guardians, unlike Enclave's society of Breeders, Builders, and Hunters. The world of the Forest can be described with one word-frightening. Imagine a village enclosed within a fence, and beyond that there is only the Forest. A Forest of zombies craving to feed on human flesh. The life that the villagers lead in the society is purely to survive. Love is second to commitment in marriages, and the Guardians serve to protect while the Sisters keep secrets from the villagers. Add in those insane zombies trying to claw their way into the village (oh, yeah, and if they manage to bite you, you'll die and turn into a zombie), and you've got yourself a dark postapocalyptic novel. In other words, I loved this account of the zombie apocalypse. It's nice to get a haunting novel every so often. While I may have loved the world Carrie Ryan created, I was not so much a fan of the characters. Though realistic (and I love realistic characters), the main character, Mary, was incredibly selfish. I loved that she was curious, always wondering about a world beyond her secluded village, but so much that that idea consumed her? She paid no attention to her best friend, her older brother, the two boys who loved her, and her own mother. And by the time she realized how much they meant to her, she had lost them all. I was disgusted with Mary, true, but I absolutely loved the boy she fell in love with. He understood her ever so well, and he always wished for her happiness. But I think I really fell in love with him when (spoiler!) Mary had to kill him. Because who doesn't long for happy endings? The Forest of Hands and Teeth enraptured me from its first word; Carrie Ryan's dark style of writing created a bleak world caught in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. I guarantee that you will not be able to set down this haunting more
by Linda
Mary lives in a village surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth. The Unconsecrated fill the forest, moaning, trying to get into the village, to devour and make more of their own by a single bite, which will spread the infection. They don't give up. They want to feed. The Sisterhood holds the secrets of the village, from before the Return. No one knows the truth, except them. The Guardians protect the village, and make sure the fence holds back the Unconsecrated. The fence is the only barrier between the village and the Forest. But then, once Mary is forced into the Sisterhood, she learns things that she wishes she hadn't. There is the one section of the fence, which is forbidden; but, it leads somewhere... Mary knows it. But where does it lead? Mary must choose between her village and what may or may not exist beyond that one gate. I really enjoyed this book. I was hooked as soon as I started. Mary was a great character. She was strong, and always wanted more than what she had. She kind of reminded me of myself (only a little, though!). The only thing I didn't like in the story was the ending, only because I wanted to know more! It left me hanging a little, so I don't really know what will happen to Mary. When THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH comes out in March 2009, I recommend it to everyone. You'll enjoy it. I hope Carrie Ryan writes more books, too - her writing was amazing!show more
by TeensReadToo
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