Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Dark and Hollow Places | by: Carrie Ryan

The Dark and Hollow Places is the final book of Carrie Ryan's Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy, and I have been in love with the first two books for quite a while now; they were so fantastic in several different aspects and focused on a different character each time.
In this installation, the story continues through Annah's eyes. Annah has spent majority of her life in the Dark City with Elias, both fighting to survive in a horrific post-apocalyptic world crawling with Unconsecrated ever since they were children. But Elias has been gone for a long time - for years - and just as Annah thinks she may have to move on forever, she encounters a man named Catcher. He knows where Elias has been; he even knows her sister, who has constantly haunted her thoughts.
Her life has consisted of so many struggles, between the Unconsecrated, her aching regrets regarding her long-lost sister, and the general sense of ugliness she constantly feels, but now Annah has to face even more of the monsters of both the dead and the living. What will push her - what pushes everyone - to continue fighting?
With all its action amid a dreary dystopian setting and emotionally-charged characters and situations, The Dark and Hollow Places explored some really deep concepts and kept me anxious. But all together, I must say it's my least favorite of the trilogy. It's a great book, but I didn't find the perfection that was reminiscent of the first two.
One of the things I loved about The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves was Carrie Ryan's writing, but unfortunately, the way this book was written was probably its biggest downfall for me. It was just too repetitive at times. I realize that Annah was dwelling on memories and emotions that have scarred and shaped her life, and I think this is why it was so repetitive - to show how it all dominated her. But, I really felt it was just too much. Because of this, sometimes I doubted Annah's strength even though she kept reminding us how she survived all alone in the Dark City.
Even though I wasn't always a fan of the way the author tackled the ebb and flow of Annah's POV, her internal conflicts are a big part of what made this book interesting. This girl has obviously felt a great deal of pain and regret in her life, and I don't think I've ever read anything that dealt with the concept of self-perception like this one does. Annah feels ugly all the time; her self-esteem couldn't possibly be lower due to her scars. Carrie Ryan tackled these issues in what felt like the most realistic way to do so.

The bleakest aspect of this novel, however, was the Recruiters. Their general brutality was difficult for me to read about; they honestly scared me more than the Unconsecrated zombies... Well, I think the zombies were pretty equal by the end of the book. (Seriously. That was a whole lot of action to make up for any lack of Unconsecrated in the rest of the book - SO intense!) There were warm-hearted moments amongst our protagonists as well though. I really enjoyed the focus on sisterhood; Annah and Gabry happened to be in some unique situations considering how their childhood went and how they seemed to swap love interests, and I was so happy to see them push past all of that and still love each other. And of course... CATCHER. I LOVE HIM. He's one of my favorite love interests - that's always a plus! Moments of romance were always relatively brief, but they spoke volumes. It's what they had to hold onto when continuing felt hopeless.

The Dark and Hollow Places also dealt with questions concerning whether the living suffer more or the dead suffer more, how to rebuild, and how to find happiness when living in a world so full of fear. Like I said, there's a high level of emotion in this novel, and I always appreciate that. There were so many things I loved about this book, but I just didn't love it as much as the previous two due to the writing's repetitions. However, I can definitely still say that I loved the trilogy overall - this one just wasn't my favorite.

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