Book review: The Forest of Hands & Teeth, by Carrie Ryan

July 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Book reviews 

fohandteethWhat makes the zombie apocalypse so alluring to both readers and writers is not necessarily the zombies themselves, but the freedom such a scenario allows for the portrayal of human relationships. Against a gruesome backdrop of flesh eating automatons nothing else matters but the fight for survival. The lengths to which those ‘unfortunate’ enough to survive the initial breakdown of society will go to to ensure that survival, firstly of themselves, and then of the human race, form the structure and events of most of the zombie genre’s novels to date. Sometimes there is a place for hope in these books. And sometimes, albeit very,very rarely, there is time for love. Such an emotion dominates Carrie Ryan‘s wonderful debut novel The Forest of Hands & Teeth.

By setting the events about 15 to 20 years after the outbreak, Ryan is able to introduce an established belief system, a quasi-religion, to the lore of the zombie. Mary lives in an isolated village, surrounded by fences that keep out the hungry undead that wander the landscape. The village is in the middle of a huge forest that seemingly goes on forever. Or at least that is what the children and teenagers are told, for this village is governed by the Sisterhood, a group of elder women who maintain the status-quo through strict tutelage of the Scripture, a regime of hard work and constant vigilance, and a societal set-up that ensures the best possible chance for the continuance of the family line. Read more