Review- The Forest of Hands and Teeth
September 18, 2012 § 11 Comments
by Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth is reminiscent of the movie The Village, a group of people are living in a small isolated village surrounded by a high fence which separates them from the undead, or as the book calls them, the unconsecrated. The main character, Mary, is out doing her daily chores as the zombies claw at the fence trying desperately to get inside, when suddenly the sirens blare signalling an emergency, possibly a breach. This emergency begins a series of events which dramatically alter Mary and the rest of the villager’s day to day existence. While the villagers look to the Sister’s to answer their questions and explain god’s will, the Sister’s may be hiding some secrets that could endanger their very existence. Meanwhile, Mary’s main concern is that the brother that she is crushing on has chosen her best friend to marry and she might be stuck with the other brother instead.
I listened to the audio of this and I would not recommend it to anyone considering reading this. You should read it in either print or ebook format. The narrator was very lifeless and monotone and frequently used odd pronunciation. She also, for some unknown reason, used a spanish-like accent for some of the characters which just didn’t fit in a story where the characters had all lived in the same isolated village for generations. I felt like either ALL of the characters should have an accent, or NONE of the characters should have an accent.
I have such a mixed opinion about The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I really enjoyed the story but found Mary, the main character, to be absolutely insufferable. I would say that she is one of the most well written godawful characters I’ve ever read. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a more frustratingly selfish main character. I can’t even call her a “heroine” because all she really manages to do is put people in a lot of really bad situations. Apparently, throughout Mary’s life her mother had told her stories about life before the zombies and many stories in particular about the ocean. So now Mary’s only obsession, other than which brother she loves that day, is making her way to the ocean regardless of who she puts in danger to do it, even though she’s not completely sure if it even exists.
I actually found most of the players to be rather 2 dimensional and spiritless and I spent most of my time hoping one of them would be eaten by a zombie. Mary’s brother was the only one who showed a bit of personality sometimes, unfortunately it wasn’t exactly a winning personality. He was a bit of an asshat. The two brothers were equally insufferable as they constantly made long winded angst filled declarations of their devotion to Mary who couldn’t make up her mind which one she loved. I was hoping zombies would eat them too.
“He’s so tender, so eager to make me happy in ways that no one else has. Tears start to crowd in my eyes and my body begins to respond to this man as if it were his brother whispering into my ear. As if my body can’t tell the difference between the two, between their whispers and the feel of their breath on my flesh.”
The fact that she basically admitted that she was just a run of the mill ho almost made her character a little more interesting than she had been up to this point. I was still hoping a zombie would eat her though….
On the other hand, the writing and world building was wonderful and the flow of the plot was evenly paced and enjoyable. I honestly don’t understand how I liked a book so much when I didn’t like any of the people in it. Some of the instances when the villagers were going about their day to day existence and the author would describe the scene with zombies just feet away literally breaking their fingers off in the fence trying to get in and a constant cacophony of undead moans was the background noise to the point that only its absence was notable. This world was so creepy and written in such a matter of fact way that I could really feel the hopelessness of this kind of existence. This book definitely left me with some haunting images of what unthinkable things could happen in such a world.
I don’t know if I’m going to continue to the next book. As much as I loved the writing and story, the ending left me hating the main character even more than I had through the story and I really don’t care what happens to her unless it includes being eaten by a zombie.