“The Forest of Hands and Teeth” is the term the characters in the book use to refer to the forest surrounding the village it’s taken place in. They called it this, because the forest is behind a metal fence and is infested with zombies, which they call the “Unconsecrated”. It’s definitely a dystopian novel, because it is set in the future and the village is run by a religious group that call themselves the Sisterhood.
Throughout the book, you discover that the Sisterhood has been keeping secrets from everybody in the village. They tell the people what to believe, they tell them that the Unconsecrated is God’s punishment and that He speaks through them. When Mary is forced to join the Sisterhood, she is content on finding out everything that is being keep hidden because she so desperately wants to believe there is more to the world than just the forest and the village.
I like how the author makes it dystopian by placing it in the future, but having the characters live by the laws of the clergy, similar to the olden days. You can already tell by having this system that it won’t stand long, because we know from history how power can affect even the most religious people. They start to think that they need to punish the ones who sinned because they didn’t do God’s will. But punishment is only supposed to be done by God, so the religious punishers are really going against His will too.
The story is told through the point of view of Mary, a sixteen-year-old girl. She experiences what is like to lose people very close to her, her dad had gone missing in the forest and never came back. Not long after her dad went missing did her mother get bitten by an Unconsecrated. The only family Mary has to turn to is her older brother, Jed, who she has always looked up to but her opinion about him started to change.
Mary has light brown hair, which is similar to her mother’s. The novel does not provide much more description, but by doing that it let’s our imagination conjure up the image we want. I imagine Mary with her hair slightly curly at the ends, her eyes so filled with dreams of the ocean that they’re a bright blue and get wide every time she shares her stories. She has very good pasture, because she was brought up that a women shall never slouch. I think she may wear long old fashioned dresses that buttons all the way up to the neck, because the whole village sounds to be very old fashioned and religious.
She wishes to learn what lies beyond the village, especially to see for herself if the ocean is actually real. She loves telling people the stories that were past down from her great grandmother about the ocean, even though nobody believes her that it’s real.
Look Through My Eyes
The image of Mary’s face, just before I slammed the door separating us, still arises in the back of my head looking more sad and stunned each time. It was a selfish choice to make, but I had to think what was best for Beth and I with a child on the way. She would make me miserable, she looks so much like Mother that I wouldn’t be able to look at her face without getting the brutal reminder of her being Turned.
I would have preferred that she had chosen death over becoming one of the moaning Unconsecrated that wonder along the fence. Mary could have reasoned with her to change her mind, she could have told her that, as her children, we need her to stay here even if it’s in the ground. If only I was there myself to tell Mother such things, but now that that’s been done, I’m scared to go patrolling with my fellow Guardians thinking that I might see my Mother’s face as an Unconsecrated and have to stab her in the head.
There’s no way I can let her stay here while I want to create my own family and try to forget about all that I have lost. Mary is too far gone in the silly stories about the ocean Mother had brainwashed her with, she has to learn that everybody has duties in the village and that’s what’s been keeping this place alive for so long. She thinks that things can just be her way, like how she let’s herself fall in love Travis when her one of her only duties is to have, love and care for Harry’s children. If Mary doesn’t change her ways she’s going to get us all killed.
It’s even hard to look at my own face in the mirror, for I resemble both my father and my mother. I’ve lost too many loved ones already, I wouldn’t be able to go on if I lose my little sister too. The best thing for Mary right now is to be with the Sisterhood, and then become married to Harry for the Harvest Celebration.
Jed is Mary’s brother, a Guardian. Jed blames her for their mother’s death and expels her from their home, leaving her no choice but to join the sisterhood. He is married to Beth, who is pregnant.