The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Book review by
Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media
The Forest of Hands and Teeth Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Cool heroine makes this for more than zombie horror fans.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 19 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value
Positive Messages

This book imparts messages about keeping hope alive, and fighting for a better world -- even if it means chopping off some zombie heads.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mary is a positive role model who never gives up. She is tough, strong, curious, adventurous, and brave. Her brother and friends are also loyal and compassionate people who try to do the right thing as they can see it.


Life in a primitive village surrounded by wire fencing is pretty violent for those inside trying to stay out of reach of the zombies living outside it. Gruesome deaths of both zombies and the villagers are everyday occurrences; parents are left to die, children are infected and become zombies if they're not killed first.


Some kissing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a great read for teens who love horror. Expect the gruesome deaths that come with any zombie story -- it's kill or be killed, and kids are taught at young ages to use weapons and show no pity for the undead. But even teens that don't usually read horror will find this dystopian romance compelling.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2 and 3-year-old Written byreadresponsibly June 4, 2010

violence, not a protagonist to admire, but entertaining

There is violence, esp as involves the killing of the zombies (dubbed the Unconsecrated). These are zombies that infect, however. They don't eat flesh. Whi... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byJessica Pierre May 15, 2016

An Interesting Take on the Zombie Apocalypse

I picked this book out at the library for a reading contest. From the first page, I was interested. The writing wasn't extraordinary and the main character... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old May 7, 2013

A great book.

I really like this book because it is about like zombie people. This is one of my favorite books. Read on!

What's the story?

Teenaged Mary has lost both parents to the Unconsecrated zombies that live outside her village. The boy she loves is courting someone else. Her brother wants her to join the Sisterhood and puts her in the convent. The Sisters are zealots that rule through fear and control with ritual weddings while the male Guardians keep everyone safe -- or at least alive. But then the Unconsecrated break down the fence and it's anarchy. What's a girl to do? Mary leads her brother, her betrothed, and her true love through the zombie-filled forest of hands and teeth, severing heads as she goes, and finding more secrets as she gets closer and closer to the truth.

Is it any good?

Very well crafted with compelling narratives, this is a complex novel that reveals its secrets slowly. The post-apocalyptic setting among the undead will resonate with teens who find escape in dystopic tales. Mary is a teen surrounded by despair who never gives up hope, and dreams of a better world even when everyone around her gives up. Readers who don't mind some gore will find it hard to put down. Even the romance has twists and turns without easy answers. Ryan creates some unforgettable characters and world-blending here.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the religion that governs life in Mary's village. How does the Sisterhood enforce its rules? Through love or fear?

  • Are the marriages arranged by the Sisterhood? Or do the young people truly have the freedom to choose their spouse?

  • When Mary finds herself inside the Sisterhood, secrets begin to reveal themselves. Is it easier to keep secrets in a small village, or a large country?

  • What drives Mary to pursue the truth? Her mother's stories? Or her belief in true love?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance and horror

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