Carrie Ryan, Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010, 407 pages, young adult zombie dystopian.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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 really enjoyed the first book in this series, The Forest of Hands and Teeth (you can read my review here), and was quite anxious to read this one. I found it interesting how the story of The Dead Tossed Waves did not pick up where the first one had left off, but instead was the story of Mary's daughter, Gabry. Gabry is such a different person than her mother, and it quite content never to leave the town of Vista where she lives, never to cross the Barrier into the unknown. She does not thirst for what she doesn't have, unlike her mother at the same age, but finds she wants what might have been, looking to the time before the Return (when the zombies took over) or even before the fateful night when her entire life changed.
Some great themes were examined in this book, such as what it means to live and what makes humans different from Mudo (zombies) and the value of remembering or forgetting the past. I also like how Ryan plays with the idea that nothing is black or white, but there are shades of grey; however, Gabry, being a teenager, has trouble with this and her struggle feels authentic.
The story is told from Gabry's first person present point of view and is quite introspective. Gabry analyzes everything and goes over and over what she thinks went wrong in her life and what it is she thinks she wants. Sometimes I found this to be a bit much and made me feel frustrated with Gabry at times. I also felt that Gabry bordered on repetitive at times in her thoughts about the past and what she had done.
There is a love triangle in this book, though it is different from many others I have read. It gets caught up in some of the philosophical themes of the book, such as what it means to be human and remembering the past but moving to the future. Both boys are sympathetic and likable in their own ways and I enjoy how Ryan does not use the typical love triangle romance I have read in many other books.
The number of sentence fragments was distracting for me, making the writing abrupt and hard to follow at times. However, I did enjoy Ryan's writing overall, especially her descriptions - they were so vivid and fun. There are also lots of cliffhanger chapter endings which make the reader want to keep reading. The book was full of great plot twists and lots of excitement. Everything in the book goes from bad to worse, to worse, then worse again. Ryan sure knows how to torture her characters!
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