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.

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.

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.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 February #1

Mary's village has been trapped for generations by a very near, very visible menace: the Unconsecrated--insatiable, flesh-eating zombies that constantly tear at the village's fences. Yet the Sisterhood--a conventlike order of religious women charged to protect the village's survival--is as much responsible for the submission of Mary's village as the Unconsecrated. When the fences are breached and the village overrun, Mary and several others escape through gated paths and arrive deep into the Forest of Hands and Teeth, forced to search beyond it for their future. Mary's observant, careful narration pulls readers into a bleak but gripping story of survival and the endless capacity of humanity to persevere. That Mary maintains emotional distance serves to render her yearnings and romantic feelings even more poignant and powerful. Fresh and riveting. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)

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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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