Received from the publisher
From the BLURB:
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.
Carrie Ryan’s novel, ‘The Forest of Hands and Teeth’, was one of my favorite books of 2009. In fact, I count it as one of favorite books of all time.
Ryan’s debut was an exhilarating and frightening tale set in a post-apocalyptic universe. ‘Forest’ told the story of Mary, and her village’s fight for survival in the aftermath of a disease that destroyed the world, as we know it. The ‘unconsecrated’ do not die; they are savage and ravenous, desperate to taste flesh and pass on the virus that wiped out millions…
The Chairman steps forward and the world around me drops to nothing. Hundreds of people holding their breath at once.
“What are we if our barriers fail us?” he begins. “If our security fails us? If our safeguards fail us?” The Chairman’s voice is deep, loud. It rolls over each one of us, filling the crevices between us. Everyone around me leans forward, all eyes on him.
“One bite,” he continues. “One bite will wipe out a city. One bite is what wiped out our world so long ago. One bite is everything that stands between what we have built here and annihilation.”
‘The Dead-Tossed Waves’ is a companion novel to ‘Forest’. The story picks up years later and is about Mary’s daughter, Gabrielle ‘Gabry’. Gabry’s life is forever changed when one reckless, youthful act of defiance sees the death of her friends and forces Gabry to realize her own fragility.
This second novel is glorious. ‘Forest’ introduced readers to a changed world riddled with fear and disease, as seen through the eyes of one girl and her close-minded village. ‘The Dead-Tossed Waves’ sees Ryan’s story grow, as layers are added to this destructed world and the plot thickens…
In this second novel Ryan explores more complex issues that arise from the aftermath of infection. She puts a very human face to the post-apocalypse, and also ties up loose ends created in ‘Forest’. Whereas the first novel concentrated on the disease’s effect on one small village that was secluded from the rest of the world, in ‘Dead-Tossed Waves’ Ryan gives readers a glimpse of the more far-reaching disaster. She introduces ‘Soulers’ – a crazy cult that has arisen, who believe immortal life can be found in an unconsecrated’s bite. Gabry and her friends talk about traveling to ‘The Dark City’, the last bastion of city life, and one of the only densely populated urban areas to survive since disaster struck. Then there’s ‘The Recruiters’ – an army of citizen volunteers who patrol village borders and kill the undead.
Ryan’s series is firmly grounded in the horror genre. Her scenes are cinematic and spine tingling, at once exhilarating and terrifying. But it’s not enough to simply say Ryan’s books are about ‘zombies’. Sure, the unconsecrated are frothing, horrifying and undead – but there’s real heart behind the zombie plot. Ryan’s series is ultimately about hope – that tiny ember that pushes humanity to survive against all odds: to keep trying, fighting and holding on, no matter what.
Ryan beautifully encapsulates this idea of survival and hope in the tender romances of her protagonists. In ‘Forest’, Mary was torn between her love for two brothers – Harry and Travis. Gabry follows her mother’s footsteps in ‘Dead-Tossed Waves’ as she has conflicted feelings for her childhood sweetheart, Catcher, and a stranger she meets beyond her home’s border, Elias. These romances have real heat to them – the characters spark on the page and it’s impossible for readers not to feel just as torn as Mary and Gabry between the loves of two good men. These romances are so important to the story and they hold such weight – after all, love is worth fighting for, and one of the best motivators for survival.
He raises his fingers to my lips. He traces them slowly. I reach out my tongue, touching his thumb. He groans surrender low in his throat and reaches his hand to the back of my neck, grabbing me and pulling.
Carrie Ryan is a perfect example of the Young Adult genre’s growing popularity and widening readership. The genre is no longer just for the audience of its namesake – adults are reacquainting themselves with a genre that is growing more sophisticated and garnering more publicity than books in its adult counter-part. ‘The Forest of Hands and Teeth’ and its companion novel, ‘The Dead-Tossed Waves’ are two books that will appeal to young adults and adults alike for its dark themes and complexities.
If you haven’t already, I implore you to read ‘The Forest of Hands and Teeth’ and then ‘The Dead-Tossed Waves’ for a sinister but fulfilling read.
US and UK covers