A girl looks forlorn in the forest.

About the Book

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth #1)
Published: 2009

BFF Charm: Yay!
Talky Talk: A Little Jesusy
Bonus Factors: Zombies
Relationship Status: The Friend With Benefits I Keep Around When My One True Love, Hunger Games, Is Being Uncommunicative

The Deal:

Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary, how doth your life story go?

Chains and brains, upheaval and pain

And zombies willing to gnaw your face off if you step outside, girl.

Okay, so my poem didn’t exactly rhyme. It’s modern. Don’t judge me.

Mary’s a teenage girl with your typical teenage problems: torn between two boys, picked on by her older brother, the child of absentee parents, and oppressed by the limitations of her small home town.

Except: she’s got to marry one of those loves and start makin’ babies soon. Her older brother has kicked her out of the house. And those limitations of a small home town? Are actually giant fences. To keep the zombies out.

Yep, it’s the year . . . sometime in the future, and we’ve all been killed in the zombie apocalypse! Well, not ALL of us. There exists a small village of survivors, who depend on the wisdom of the Sisterhood, the vigilance of the Guardians and the submission of its citizens in order to stay alive.

But what happens when those citizens start to question their world? What happens when the Sisterhood is revealed to know more than they’re saying? And what happens when the fences that separate a peaceful village from the zombie-infested Forest of Hands and Teeth are breeched?

Bff Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

I feel like we’ve been more discriminatory lately in handing out our BFF charms. And why shouldn’t we be? Do you know how hard it is to have 20 BFFs? First of all, your call-waiting would go beserk, because obvs you have to call each other every night to discuss the day’s events and what that one cute boy in history class was wearing. Your email inbox would max out every week. Plus you’d have to have 20 Maids of Honor (or Dudes of Honor, I guess, for the boys, like in that really bad movie with Patrick Dempsey that I watched because it was set in Scotland and some people had beards). That is a LOT of dresses from David’s Bridal, y’all.

But even though my BFF raft is getting pretty full, Mary is TOTALLY welcome on board. She can sit next to Katniss, and together they can talk about being awesome and having two awesome boys in love with you and totally kicking ass, and also they can punch any sharks that get in our way.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Man, it’s tough enough when you’re in love with one dude, and another dude’s in love with you. It’s EVEN tougher when those two dudes are brothers. And then when one of the dudes is sort of promised to your BFF, and you all have to get hitched this year or basically you’re out of chances? Sheesh!

The love triangle (quadrangle?) is a BIG part of this book, and it’s really believable (well, I mean, for a book about people living post-zombie apocalypse, that is.), but it’s not really HOT n’ SPICY. Mostly I spent the book wondering why, if two teenagers of coordinating sexual orientation are spending the night together, there isn’t more discussion of the HOT VIRGINAL FUMBLING that must be going on. Come on, book! I need to remember being a teenager!

Talky Talk: A Little Jesusy

Don’t get me wrong. Despite the similarities in theme, The Forest of Hands and Teeth does NOT have the same sort of dialogue as The Village, THANK GOD. (Um, LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU HAVE NEVER WATCHED THE VILLAGE: but it makes me CRAZY that the whole place was created by an English professor and yet he allowed everyone in the village to go around using terrible grammar! It is not “Those We Do Not Speak Of,” you lame-ass freaks, it’s “Those of Whom We Do Not Speak!!” Ugh! DROVE ME CRAZY DURING THE ENTIRE FILM.)

Okay, sorry. Anyway, like I was saying, the people in Forest don’t speak like the characters in The Village, but they DO tend to get a little “thou shalt” and preachy. I guess that’s just what happens when a tiny little hamlet is run by a powerful religious group, like The Sisterhood. The Sisterhood are basically like uncloistered nuns, only everyone knows that uncloistered nuns are AWESOME, and The Sisterhood is decidedly less-than-awesome.

That reminds me: the other day I saw an uncloistered nun driving down the highway as I was heading to work. She drove a beat-up Camry and it had a Save the Whales bumper sticker on the back. I wanted to marry her, but I thought God might get angry if I tried to poach one of His wives.

Moving on.

Bonus Factor: ZOMBIES!

Rick from Walking Dead stands in front of double doors that say "Don't Open, Dead Inside".

I don’t think it’s any secret that I love zombies in pretty much any incarnation they can be had. (Although I do think that fast-moving zombies are a cop-out.) They’re totally scary, cause unlike other supernatural creatures, they have no agency at all, except to eat your brains. They aren’t coordinated; they cannot be bargained with or cajoled. They have no master plan and thus no real weakness. If there is something in front of them, and that something has entrails and a developed neocortex, then that something is a tasty meal. How can you fight something like that?? Answer: you can’t. You can only try to be faster. Many of the people in this book, um . . . need to be faster.

Relationship Status: The Friend With Benefits I Keep Around When My One True Love, Hunger Games, Is Being Uncommunicative

You know what the problem with Friends with Benefits is? It goes on long enough, and eventually one of the friends is going to want more than just good times with the other. Sure, it might start out casual, just something you do when your significant other’s pulling a crazy, or spends all his/her time hanging out with other people, or goes away on long trips and takes a year and a half to come back hurryitupwiththesequeltoCatchingFirealreadySuzanneCollinsgeez. But eventually you start looking at that FWB in a new light. Pretty soon, you’re not just physically cheating, you’re EMOTIONALLY cheating as well. You start thinking, “hey. Could it – would it – might it – be just as good as my one true love, Hunger Games?”

No. But if the sequel to Catching Fire doesn’t come out soon, I’m totally going to start emotionally cheating on it with The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Cause this is some pretty hardcore amazing shit, y’all. Do yourself a favor and read it ASAP. Just make sure you sleep with the light on.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Gollancz. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). The Forest of Hands and Teeth is available now.

Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink.