Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Dead-Tossed Waves - Carrie Ryan

Title: The Dead-Tossed Waves
Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 400 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction, Horror
Started: March 3, 2010
Finished: March 3, 2010

From inside cover:
Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

I was out book-shopping last night and was looking for another book when I happened to notice this one on the shelves. Knowing that it's not supposed to be released for another week, and thanking the god of book stores that this one breaks street dates, I bought it and read it all today. Second in The Forest of Hands and Teeth series, this book is more of a companion to The Forest of Hands and Teeth than a sequel. The main character is 16-year-old Gabrielle ("Gabry"), Mary's daughter, so quite a lot of time has passed since the ending of the first book. Mary and Gabry live in the lighthouse at the edge of the town of Vista where Mary found herself at the end of the first book, and from what we learn from Gabry, the area they live in is rather safe from the Unconsecrated/Mudo, nobody has been infected for quite some time. This gives Gabry's friends the idea that they can cross the barriers that protect them and nothing will go wrong. Famous last words. After several of her friends are infected and die and the ones that live are punished harshly for their actions, Gabry must come to terms with her fear, her changing surroundings, and her past.

After reading this, I found that I much preferred the previous book, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I think this is because both books take very different approaches to their stories. The first book dealt with Mary's desire to escape her village and find something beyond it and the Forest. It had a lot of action and most of the themes were directly portrayed by the characters and their actions rather than simply being talked about by the characters. That's where The Dead-Tossed Waves differs. It seems more of a book about ideas than a book about action. Not much actually happens in the first half of the book, it's not until the second half that Gabry and company actually venture away from Vista. Gabry has a lot of issues: she's afraid of everything that's not deemed safe, and once her friends are attacked she can't seem to come to terms with how her world has changed. Whereas The Forest of Hands and Teeth dealt with these issues quite quickly, The Dead-Tossed Waves takes half the book telling Gabry the same things: "don't be afraid, live your life, have hope". Because of the nature of Gabry and Mary and where they grew up, I almost think Gabry's story should have come first since she's the sheltered one and had to go through the trauma of seeing someone infected. Since we've already gone through that with Mary's story, Gabry and her issues just annoyed me a lot of the time, I wanted to smack her, tell her to suck it up, and just do what she had to do without being angsty all of the time.

Although I did like The Forest of Hands and Teeth better, the story in The Dead-Tossed Waves was still well written, very engrossing, and kept me reading, though I did guess the plot twist quite early on, I was kind of disappointed that I got it because I thought it would be more complicated. One thing I liked was that we get answers for things left unsaid in The Forest of Hands and Teeth, about the Return and what happened afterwards. There is still a third book left to complete the story arc, not quite sure when it's coming out though.

If you read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and liked it, reading this one is a no-brainer.

Thoughts on the cover:
I actually like the earlier concept art better than the one that actually appeared on the cover, I think it matched the first book well and kept the continuity of the covers. The girl on the actual cover doesn't really look like how Gabry's described, and she looks more like a Mudo washed up on the beach than Gabry. The original concept cover with the blue background I just seem to like better.

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