Author: Carrie Ryan
Published: Delacorte Press (2010)
Genre: YA Horror; Romance
If you have not read Carrie Ryan's debut novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, I'd encourage you to do so as it was one of my favorite reads from 2009. You can find my review of that book by clicking here. With the companion--don't call it a sequel, I guess--out this year called The Dead-Tossed Waves, Ryan has set the bar fairly high. Fortunately, she manages to just about make par, at least as far as I'm concerned.
I expected a direct sequel to Hands and Teeth though, but Dead-Tossed Waves surprised me there. Where the first book was told through the voice of Mary as a teenager living in a dystopian sanctuary surrounded by "the Unconsecrated," the second book takes place many years later and is told through the voice of Mary's teenage daughter, Gabrrelle or "Gabry." The Unconsecrated still exist, though the seaside village refers to them as "Mudo," and strict rules prevent them from becoming too much of a threat. The one place where they can still cause trouble is on the beach, washing in dormant with the tides to awaken at the scent of living flesh. Incidentally, the beach is where Gabry and Mary live, in an old lighthouse and guard the beach as a way to earn their keep.
The relatively safe and secure world Gabry knows is turned on its ear very early, when she reluctantly joins her friends for an excursion beyond the protective walls of the village to a nearby amusement park long forgotten after the fall of civilization. It's Gabry's first taste of rebellion and it going terribly wrong when Mudo attack--specifically a "Breaker" (fast zombie) that winds up biting the boy she's in love with.
She escapes unscathed and retreats back to the village at the insistence of her boy crush, Catcher, but the rest are either killed--and turned to Mudo--or they're rounded up by the Recruiters that act as a militia-style defense to serve as indentured soldiers. As a self-inflicted penance, Gabry goes back to the park to search for Catcher who is unaccounted for, but winds up finding another boy Elias and a Mudo-worshiping cult. And that's just the first act. Things get a whole lot crazier and more intense after that.
Carrie Ryan did a heck of a job in recapturing the bleak, yet oddly hopeful world she created in the first book. And I thought the disparities between Gabry and Mary were very well defined and felt genuine, given the different childhoods they lived. Mary was defiant and curious, while Gabry is timid and skittish. The romance aspect of the novel became overwrought at times with Gabry's continual inner tug-of-war between her feelings for Catcher and for the new boy in her life, Elias. While it didn't detract from the story as a whole, there were a couple of scenes that were annoying with the melancholy and ruefulness.
Overall, it's a very enjoyable read and holds up well when compared to The Dead-Tossed Waves. It certainly earned a place as one of my favorite reads so far in 2010, and I think fans of horror, YA, and romance can all find something to appreciate from the book. If I'm going to walk away with one peeve from this reading experience, it's the ending. I wouldn't call it a cliffhanger, but there's that obvious wink towards the follow-up novel, The Dark and Hollow Places, which I presume will hit shelves next year.