Monday, April 11, 2011

Might be Dark but Definitely Isn't Hollow!

The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 3)
Authors need to stop waiting a year or more before releasing their next book in a series- I almost died waiting for this one! The Forest of Hands and Teeth series has been a roller coaster ride. Zombies, dystopian settings, fenced towns, and lost family and friends- who could keep up?! With the final book, The Dark and Hollow Places, Carrie Ryan exceeds expectations and brings a great series to a bittersweet end.

Annah has survived for three years in the Dead City without Elias. When he left to join the Recruiters, he did it to find Annah's twin sister- the one they left behind in the fences and never found again. Annah survives day to day in the horrible city, but she has never gotten over her guilt for leaving Gabry behind. When she decides Elias is never coming back and she should leave the city, she sees someone at the gate she never thought she would see again- Gabry. She manages to fight her way into to the city just in time to see the gate dogs go after Gabry's companion, indicating he was clearly infected. To Annah's horror, Gabry goes after the Recruiters to help her companion escape into the icy river below.

As she watches the Recruiters drag Gabry off, she knows she must find a way to save her sister. On her way home, Annah is surprised by the same guy who Gabry protected: Catcher. Catcher tells Annah he was sent to find her by Elias. He also tells her he is an Immune. Catcher was bitten, but didn't die- instead he can walk among the Unconsecrated (zombies) without being bothered, but the virus is still inside him. When the Unconsecrated start piling into the city, madness begins that is not unlike the horrors of when the virus first broke out. The Recruiters are holed up on their island, the only defensible part of the city, and when Elias is reunited with Annah, the three of them decide to make there way to the island where they assume Gabry is being held.

What Annah doesn't realize is that to get onto the island, Catcher must give himself to the Recruiters. The Recruiters love having Immunes to do their dirty work and get food and supplies where the others can't go. They know, however, the only way to keep an Immune is to hold onto someone they love. In order to get onto the island, they must accept that they are prisoners. The island, full of dangerous Recruiters and a leader who can barely keep them from murder and rape (and sometimes doesn't), is almost as bad as the Dark City, now overrun with zombies. Together, Elias, Gabry, Annah, and Catcher must find a way to get themselves off the island and to a safe place where they can be together... but how can they do that when even the river is filling up with the Unconsecrated and the Recruiters put people in cages with zombies for fun?

This was an amazing follow up to the first two books, and I think the primary reason for its success is that none of these books are true "sequels". They do not pick up where the story last left off or continue with the same characters, although they are all connected in very important ways. Master Plot Weaver Ryan has the ability to tell completely different sides of the story without losing her audience. She knows how to make you love the characters, even though the characters are flawed and damaged. Catcher was my favorite reprise in this story, as he struggles with loving Annah, feeling responsible for Gabry, and fearing even the slightest kiss will infect the woman he loves. He brings guilt to a whole new level!

The language and violence in this book is slightly more mature than the previous books. I would say this was the most dark of the three stories. The Recruiters are simply evil, and there are things that happen on that island I can't seem to forget no matter how hard I try! This is a great series for any student, male, female, young, older. It will appeal to a wide range of students, and it really matures with each book, giving the reader a chance to grow along with the story. I absolutely loved this story and am sorry to see it end!

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