Novel: The Forest of Hands and Teeth


Bibliographical Information:

Title- The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Author- Carrie Ryan

ISBN- 0575090855

Publisher- Gollancz


Genre(s): Zombie, Horror, YA

Interest Age: 14 and up

Reader’s Annotation: Mary has lived her life in the village surrounded by a fence and the Unconsecrated (zombies). It’s all she’s ever known and lived, but her world comes crashing down when there is a breach in the fence.

Plot Summary:

Mary lives in a village in the forest governed by the Sisterhood and the Guardians. The village is surrounded by a fence keeping the Unconsecrated out. Mary is by the stream and is asked Harry to marry him. The town sirens go off which means the fence has been breached. Mary goes only to find out that her mom got too close to the fence, looking for Mary’s dad as an Unconsecrated, and was bitten. Mary is then kicked out of her home by her older brother Jed and his wife Beth. She must join the Sisterhood run by Sister Tabitha. Sister Tabitha is not a good person, and threatens Mary. Harry comes to see Mary and again asks her to marry him. She accepts, with the idea of getting away from the Sisterhood in her mind. The only thing is, Mary is in love with Travis (Harry’s brother, who’s engaged to her best friend!) Mary sees a girl in a vest and she is hidden in the Sisterhood Cathedral. Mary eventually sees the girl, Gabrielle, again but she has been infected. On the day of her wedding, the sirens alert the town of a breach, and Gabrielle has come back as a faster and more improved version of an Unconsecrated. Mary, her brother, Harry, Travis, Cass (Mary’s best friend), and a little boy named Jacob are able to escape the village to the fenced part of the forest which is a path. They find another village, and settle in tree houses. Mary and Travis find themselves in their own home. A group of Unconsecrated find them, and break into the house. Mary and Travis are able to escape. The find shelter with the others, but that is destroyed in a fire. Travis volunteers to get a rope to the gates in order for the group to escape, and is bitten. Before he turns, he explains that he was bitten when they broke into the house earlier. Mary kills him. They continue on their path, and meet the end of the fenced area. Mary ends up wandering into the forest with the intent to find the ocean, but ends up slipped off a cliff and is saved by a man. The book ends with them walking towards the man’s lighthouse by the ocean.

Critical Evaluation:

Have you ever had an experience with a book, where you just wish you could forget about it and re-read it just so you can get the first time reading feeling/experience again? Yeah that happened for me with this book.I enjoyed this book and could barely put it down. I connected with the characters and I loved the fresh feel Carrie gave to zombies (Unconsecrated). It felt like it was written in a different (past) time period, but it had reverted to some of the ways of the past because the “zombie apocalypse” had occurred. I felt like Mary was an accurate portrayal of a young girl in this situation. The characters were well written, and a lot of thought went into the Sisterhood and the evil tendencies of Sister Tabitha. I think teens will love this new look on the zombie genre.

Author Bio/ Information: 

“Husband and wife Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis have been in love with each other’s writing (and with each other) since meeting in law school a decade ago. Carrie is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed and multi-award-winning Forest of Hands and Teeth series, which is based on a world she and JP created together. She is also the author of DAUGHTER OF DEEP SILENCE and INFINITY RING: Divide and Conquer, as well as the editor of FORETOLD: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction. Although they’ve been important parts of each other’s writing for years, THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE is their first full collaboration. JP and Carrie currently live in Charlotte, North Carolina” (Biography Carrie Ryan, n.d.).

Ties to Curriculum Units: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

Do you feel it was Mary’s responsibility to watch her mother?

Did the people that she lost make her stronger in the end?

Challenging Issues:

The only issues I could see potentially is that there is violence. But this is to be expected in a horror/zombie book, and it is kept very minimal to keep the focus on Mary and the relationships she has with other characters. I chose this book for this collection because it is within a popular genre (zombies) and, in my opinion, is one of the best for YA’s in this genre.


Biography Carrie Ryan. (n.d.). TeenReads. Retrieved from


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