Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Gollancz (8 April 2010)
First Sentence: "The story goes that even after the Return they tried to keep the roller coasters going."
Gabry lives a quiet and safe life behind the barrier. But her world is about to shattered when one night of fun turns into a disaster. Now Gabry has to decide to live her quiet but safe life at the light house, or take a chance and leave everything she knows behind. Can she save her friends? what secrets is her mother keeping? and who is Elias?
This is the sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth. The story picks up roughly 20 years after the events in Forest of Hands and Teeth. Mary is the lighthouse keeper responsible for killing the unconsecrated (or Mudo as they are known in this town), and she lives with her 16 year old daughter Gabry. The story is told from Gabry's point of view.
The reader gets to learn so much more about the world Mary inhabited. Vista is similar to the village Mary fled from. It is controlled by the Protectorate a government that rules, from what I can tell, the remaining surviving cities. Young men are volunteered or dragooned as punishment into the military known as the Recruiters. Everyone else is encased behind solid walls and are forced to follow strict rules. I feel we also get a sense of the bigger picture here, of what has been happening in the forest and beyond.
There was not as much action in this book compared to the first book. Towards the end there was a lot of action, but I felt up to about halfway through the book, the pacing was fairly slow. The death toll of the main characters is pretty low too compared to the first book.
Gabry is a little bit of a strange character. I found on one hand she annoyed me, but on the other hand I liked her and felt sorry for her. Somehow she has grown up completely afraid of her world and even who she is. So she really struggles with the turn of events, and beats herself up over it. I enjoyed Elias as a character he has the whole mysterious stranger with a dark past thing happening.
POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT - I was a little confused about Mary's story though. She apparently returned to the forest for a year or so, and its indicated she knows how to return to her home village. Yet she apparently has never returned even though it says in this book she spent some time in the forest previously (after fleeing originally). I am a little baffled as to what she was doing in the forest for that time?
DISCUSSION POINT - Another thing I don't really get plot wise is the zombies themselves. While Ryan does a decent job explaining why there is still so many around. It still doesn't ring true for me. I am positive in the first book Ryan said that the zombies sort of disintegrated the older they were. To me this would mean eventually the zombies would just decompose eventually. So why are there still so many around? I dunno maybe I misread, or I am misremembering that passage. Oh also I don't understand why the infection stopped the remainder of humanity using things like planes, cars or other technology? Wouldn't we have made power stations, airports etc safe to use? Also food, how are the remaining people living because farms don't seem to exist? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
This book sets up for another book as it ends with a bit of a cliff hanger then an epilogue. Looking on Carrie Ryan's website a new book The Dark and Hollow Places is due out March 2011. I will be interested to see where Ryan takes the story. If you have read the first book and liked it, then this is a must read to learn more about the world.