Back in September, I posted my very first ever review on this here blog. I raved about how much I loved Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth and how excited I was for the sequel. The Dead Tossed Waves is technically released today, but I was fortunate enough to find it in my local bookstore yesterday and, again, could not put it down until I’d finished.
Though Dead Tossed Waves is technically a sequel to Forest, you don’t need to have read Forest to enjoy it (though please, for your own sake, read it…it’s probably the best YA book that came out last year). Time flashes forward, probably ten years? Fifteen? I wasn’t entirely positive on this point, and I liked that. Mary’s daughter Gabrielle lives as safe a life as she thinks can be lived in a town called Vista, nestled between the Forest and the ocean. Gabry’s world is so much different than her mother’s – the unconsecrated are now Modu, there is a town council instead of a sisterhood, and there is a very definite outside world with a protectorate to run it and Recruiters to protect it against the hoards of zombies who want nothing more than to spread their infection.
This book hits the ground running and doesn’t stop even once you hit the end. In a lot of ways, this book is the inverse of Forest. Where Mary was trying to find the outside world and the ocean, Gabry has to flee it. Read together, the books are a really well-done example of how the grass is always greener in someone else’s life. More htan that, it’s a great juxtaposition as to how two very different societies can essentially handle a problem in the same wrong ways.
Just like Mary was the anchor of Forest, Gabry really shines, and is perhaps even more amazing than her mother was. What makes her such a compelling main character is the fact that she starts off the novel terrified. She likes the safety and security that Vista can provide her – she doesn’t want to find out anything about the outside. All Gabry wants to do is live out the future she’s imagined for herself with her best friend Cira and Cira’s older brother, Catcher.
But Gabry can’t be scared forever, and when her fears are tested she shows a pretty inspiring strength. She’s a leader like her mother, but she also lacks a lot of the selfishness that made Mary frustrating and wonderful all at once. Gabry cares more about other people than she does herself and her own fears, but she tends to take too much on herself, which keeps her relatable. She has doubts about what she’s doing, and you just want to give her a hug and tell her she’s doing a great job.
The minor characters were all excellent, as well. Cira was an excellent foil to Gabry, and it made their friendship very real. Mary was still Mary, headstrong and a little selfish but so brave. Elias was strong and intriguing and you could feel the tension between he and Mary with every page. My favorite, though, was Catcher, who drew perhaps the shortest stick of any literary character I’ve ever read. He was sweet and loyal and so intensely likable, and then your heart just shatters into a million pieces for him. He is a character who wants to be strong and wants to be normal and wants to just live out his life and love Gabry, but he can’t do that. Every single thing he ever wanted is snatched away from him, but he still tries to protect Gabry and Cira and to do the right thing by everyone. If I could pull him from the pages of this book and keep him with me always, I would.
Despite having heart-pounding tension and a sense of danger that kept me turning the pages as fast as my eyes could move across the (beautifully written and haunting) prose, there was a less definite plot to Dead Tossed Waves than there was to Forest. In the latter, Mary has a clear destination: the ocean, outside. But in Dead Tossed Waves, Gabry just wants to get away from Vista and protect Catcher and Elias and Cira. She doesn’t have a specific goal except to flee. The lack of a goal didn’t bother me for the most part because I was so caught up in the characters’ terror, but once I got to the ending it seemed a little bit random and rushed. I still loved it – it still managed to catch that open-ended hope and the same sense of fear that there is so much more to the world than the reader or the characters can know – but because Gabry isn’t going anywhere but away, you are left feeling like this story isn’t at all over. I loved the indefinite ending in Forest and I loved it here, but a little more clarity as Gabry’s new goals and plan might have helped. Hopefully there is going to be a sequel.
The love triangle was a little odd for me, too, mostly because any kind of resolution or focus on it came in the last thirty or so pages and felt a little bit crammed in. I had a feeling which way things were going to go from the beginning, but the way Gabry made her decision just felt strangely fast for someone who over-thought things as much as she did. That said, I wasn’t displeased by what she decided and I was so excited by a resolution to something that lingered in my mind from Forest that I was willing to overlook this. So long as there is a sequel. Please, please let there be a sequel.
My one gripe about this book is actually nothing any author could change. I bought Forest of Hands and Teeth because I loved the cover and thought it really fit the book. Then, the stinking publishers changed the cover style for Dead Tossed Waves and made a new cover for Forest to match. Now my Dead Tossed Waves doesn’t match my Forest, and I don’t think the cover matches the book as well as the original cover of Forest matched its plot. Irrelevant rant, I know, but I can’t help myself.
Overall, Dead Tossed Waves owned me. It’s primary flaw was that I was left aching for more about the characters and the story, and that is pretty much never a bad thing. If there isn’t a sequel, I am going to cry (I can’t emphasize my need to read more about Gabry enough). Everyone needs to rush out and buy this today, because I want to hear what y’all think of the ending.
And…and…I just went to check out Carrie Ryan’s twitter and there is going to be a third book! Phew!