I'm honestly not sure what to do about this book. The world Ryan creates is well thought-out, the Unconsecrated are terrifying, and the choices some of the characters have to make are heart wrenching.
I'd have to say my biggest problem with this book is the portrayal of the marriage system. After the Return, there are few survivors, and they live in a tightly controlled religious community. Divorce is unheard of, and commitment, not "true love," is the driving force in marriages. And that's a bad thing. As a (happily) married woman, I argue that commitment is as important, if not more, than our emotions, in making a marriage last. Even the most passionately in love don't always feel that way, and like the book, our marriage vows promise our spouses AND GOD that we will be together good times or bad. The love story in The Forest of Hands and Teeth leads the reader to hope the characters break those vows, which, BTW, one character admits to planning on, before even making. In a society where half the marriages end in divorce, the LAST thing we need is a book geared toward teens that makes commitment and religion the enemy. (Steps off soap box)
I really didn't like Mary as a MC. Through the whole book she hates herself for being reckless and selfish (and she's right) but she never changes, just keeps making the same mistakes over and over. It made reading a little boring, because I always knew what choice she'd make. There is a sequel to this one, and hopefully she shows some growth in it. As far as Travis, her love interest, the reader knows nothing about him, except that he has green eyes. I need more than that to root for a relationship (above comments aside) and I honestly just didn't care about them.
I had a hard time getting a visual idea about the setting, except in the treetop village, and I really didn't always know what was going on. This could have been because of the present-tense writing, or because Ryan was trying to do too much at once. Either way, I was more confused then scared, and my feelings for the characters bordered on apathetic. In the end, I can't recommend this one to anybody, but if you've read it and feel differently, maybe you can help me understand it.
YS Notes: See above