Reviews for Forest of Hands and Teeth


Booklist Reviews 2009 January #1
Mary lives in a small village in the middle of the forest governed by the religious Sisterhood and bordered with a fence to keep out the Unconsecrated--a horde of the undead unleashed many generations ago by a mysterious and cataclysmic event. Life is simple but preordained; Mary fears her betrothal to a man she doesn t love almost as much as the hungry jaws slavering at the fence links. Under the colonial trappings, this is a full-blooded zombie thriller, reminiscent of the paragon of the genre, George Romero s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead. Soon Mary and a small band of desperate survivors are thrown together to outwit the undead and work through their own weaknesses, suspicions, and jealousies. Ryan s vision is bleak but not overly gory; her entry in the zombie canon stands out for how well she integrates romance with flesh-eating. The plot loses a little wind near the conclusion, but Ryan s ability to write a nail-biting escape scene will keep most readers riveted.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
Only a fence separates Mary's village from the Unconsecrated--zombielike creatures that must be kept at bay in order for her primitive post-apocalyptic community, governed by a religious sisterhood, to survive. This inventive horror story combines mystery, romance, and suspense as it records Mary's quest to search beyond the barrier for alternatives to the life she has always known. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2009 February #2
It's been generations since the zombie apocalypse, and the people of Mary's village know they are the only living people left. In this overly introspective zombie tale, Mary despises her circumscribed life. Penned in by fences keeping out most of the flesh-eating Unconsecrated, destined to marry the brother of her beloved Travis, Mary dreams of the ocean her mother's told her of. Her miserable village life won't last much longer, though. When a visitor arrives from another village, the ascetic Sisterhood who control every aspect of village life secretly imprison the visitor, then (inexplicably) turn her into a super-fast Unconsecrated and set her loose among the rest. Fences fall before the onslaught of this super-powered zombie and Mary finds herself one of only six survivors, desperately searching for safe haven. Mary's an unlikable heroine, obsessed with Travis (with whom she spends an oddly sexless interlude in a barricaded house) even as everything she knows is destroyed. But despite plot holes, more angst than action and an excess of philosophical meanderings, Mary's story delivers what's important: zombie apocalypse. (Science fiction. 12-14) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2009 August/September
In Mary?s world, the Sisterhood always knows best, the Guardians will protect and serve, and the Unconsecrated will never relent. Mary is learning things she never wanted to know about her village. When the fence leading to the Forest of Hands and Teeth is breached, she must choose between the village and her future. And she must face the truth about the forest. The book is beautifully written, but the story is slow, revealed mostly through Mary?s thoughts rather than action. Strong sexual overtones are depicted in a scene between Mary and Travis, the boy she wants. Fans of The Giver (Houghton Mifflin, 1993) might appreciate the themes and tone, but most readers will be lost. Additional Selection. Lu Ann Staheli, English Teacher, Payson (Utah) Junior High School ¬ 2009 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 May

Gr 9 Up--Mary knows little about the past and why the world now contains two types of people: those in her village and the undead outside the fence, who prey upon the flesh of the living. The Sisters protect their village and provide for the continuance of the human race. After her mother is bitten and joins the Unconsecrated, Mary is sent to the Sisters to be prepared for marriage to her friend Harry. But then the fences are breached and the life she has known is gone forever. Mary; Harry; Travis, whom Mary loves but who is betrothed to her best friend; her brother and his wife; and an orphaned boy set out into the unknown to search for safety, answers to their questions, and a reason to go on living. In this sci-fi/horror novel, the 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. The author skillfully conceals and reveals just enough information to pique curiosity while also maintaining an atmosphere of creepiness that is expected in a zombie story. Some of the descriptions of death and mutilation of both the Unconsecrated and the living are graphic. The story is riveting, even though it leaves a lot of questions to be explained in the sequel.--Debra Banna, Sharon Public Library, MA

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