While wandering around of of the two used bookstores in town, I happened upon a title I was vaguely familiar with: The Forest of Teeth and Hands. I couldn’t recall exactly where I saw this title before, but there was a feeling of positive with the memory. So 8$ later I had it in my hands and within half a day I was finished with the book. My positive feelings were well met with the material!
Quick Summary: “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 by so much death?”
(Excerpt from Carrie Ryan’s website)
I was a little hesitant of this book because I was wondering if it was going to be like Running Out of Time or the M Night Shyamalan ripoff of the book The Village but I was willing to give it a chance. What exactly were the Unconsecrated and what kind of place was this forest? So into the book I delved. I enjoyed the main character Mary quite a bit, her independence as well as dreaming about what else could be out there in the world. At the same time I also get irate at her for what I somewhat call selfishness at wanting her desire and dreams so badly that at times it puts those she loves in jeopardy. Throughout the story, I ask myself if her drive for what she dreams is what may save her or is it what will hurt those around her more? It’s not quite so black and white in my book. At times the writing for Mary can be a bit dry and almost too distant as a reader, but overall I enjoyed her.
As for the other characters in the book, I like the vast difference in personalities and roles in the story. There are a couple, such as her friend Cass, who don’t get to be as rounded or interesting as the others because she is mentioned so little in the story. Also, her friendship with Mary seems flat and hard to believe that they are best friends from childhood. This may be due to writing, or again just because we see so little of her. Then you have characters like the Sister who interacts the most with Mary who seems to have more then what meets the eye. This is hinted through the story as Mary sees hints of what could be laugh lines, or heavy sighs of a great burden. Overall, there are actually very few characters in this story you get to meet, but that works well since the story is focused on a handful and what they go through and not the whole world.
Though I must say, I’m still unsure of exactly how many people live in the village, due to the vagueness of the writing (or maybe I just missed some numbers?) it was hard to have a mental image of the village. I like to be able to compare places in books to places I know in real life, so I felt actually very little connection to the setting in the book as a whole due to this reason. It may have to do with the writing style as well. Though I was immersed and enjoyed the book, I never felt my pulse go up at exciting or dangerous scenes, or my thoughts go “aww” for the romantic relationships in the story. More I sort of breezed through the book, enjoying the story but not enraptured by it.
As a few last notes, the religious aspects in the village are interesting as well as the mystery and history of the place. Though I was left with more questions then answers, I am looking forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy. Overall rating: 3.5/5.
For more info on this book and others by the author, you can find her website here.