Carrie Ryan had proven herself to be an amazing author with her first novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. With a novel like that, I was sure that The Dead-Tossed Waves would attain a certain level of greatness, but I wasn't sure if it would be quite as amazing as her first book. I knew that it wasn't going to be about Mary (the protagonist of The Forest of Hands and Teeth) and thought that the new setting probably wouldn't be as creepy.
But, The Dead-Tossed Waves certainly filled with awe-shocking moments that left me gulping down this novel all at once. I'm not sure if one is better than the other.
Gabry lives in Vista, though her mother is from the Forest. For her entire life, she's known nothing but to stay within the Barrier, for death awaits anyone who goes past it. The Mudo are out there, just waiting in their hunger, in their desire to infect.
After a night of hellish terror, Gabry finds herself in a compromising new life. A new life that has not only affected herself, but her friends and mother. One where she is forced to leave Vista and enter the outside world, where the Mudo are a threat beyond the Barrier. While she is in flight from Vista, she yearns to go back in time and fix her mistakes in order to reclaim her old life. In her struggle to survive, will her fear and sorrow swallow her up? Or is she more like her mother, as she had always hoped?
It's been too long since I've read a book so good. Where should I start?
Well, first of all, Gabry is a very different character than Mary of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. She's much more fearful and less adventurous. While Mary had always valued exploration and escape from her village, Gabry has no desire to leave Vista. She often wants to go back and change things, and reality leaves her broken. The pain cuts especially deep since before she had to leave, before her world was shattered by a terrible encounter with the Mudo, her life had just seemed to be coming together. Things were going right with the boy she's grown up with, Catcher.
That being said, while she and the small company of friends that go with her fight to stay alive and try to outrun both the Mudo and the government's Recruiters, Gabry has a couple of love interests. But, I stress that this isn't a gushy paranormal romance ordeal, this is an eerie dystopian novel. Seriously, it takes her until the last fifty pages to make a decision between Catcher, who's from her village and has known her forever, or Elias, the guy she meets in the ruins of a village just outside of Vista. (Don't worry, I won't tell you who it is.) Though I have always preferred Elias, I knew that the outcome could very well go either way. This scared me, and Gabry taking her dear sweet time to figure it out drove me crazy.
But that's one of the important elements of Gabry's character. She grows so much from the beginning! I loved seeing her transformation from a scared girl who doesn't know what she wants to a strong, experienced, and determined character.
And let's face it, she goes through a lot throughout the pages of this book. Trying to figure out who she was led to many twists that I didn't expect, and really, this whole book had twists I didn't expect. There were a few times where my jaw dropped in surprise, if that says anything about the intensity of this novel.
Fans of Mary from the previous book in this series should be excited to see her appearance in the novel. Although this book may not be about her, she's definitely important within the plot. It's so interesting to see where she ended up and how she's doing. In some way, I guess it sort of is an indirect continuation of her story as well, though one doesn't need to read The Forest of Hands and Teeth before The Dead-Tossed Waves. However, I certainly reccommend it; both are outstanding despite their distinguishing differences.
One thing I loved about Carrie Ryan's first book was her wonderful writing. This is still evident in this novel, making this already fantastic plot even better. As long as she continues to write like this, I will read her books forever.
Another element from The Forest of Hands and Teeth that remained for this novel? Both are so, so bleak. However, I wouldn't say that this is a bad thing; it just makes the ending all the more hopeful. And believe me, the ray of hope is worth it all.
I can't even begin to say how excited I am to read the next book in this gripping series, The Dark and Hollow Places. Again, we get to read about a new (though mentioned) character's struggles - and I do love that. But, I can't help but hope to hear more about Gabry, if her story intwines with this character's story, especially since it's clear that Gabry still has a journey ahead of her at the end of this book.
With that, The Dead-Tossed Waves was an adventurous and dark read, and you don't even have to like zombies to enjoy it. It's one of those things that are just too good not to read. I loved it.
Ryan, Carrie. The Dead-Tossed Waves
New York: Delacorte Press