The Dead-Tossed Waves is the YA horror follow-up to The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.
As all of y'all saw on Monday, I was extremely impressed and horrified by The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which made me both apprehensive and excited to continue Mary's journey in The Dead-Tossed Waves. Except... Mary's journey wasn't really continued.
But before I go into more detail, I must ask all of y'all bibliophiles to stop reading if you haven't read The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Even though it is not as much of a spoiler-ific book, being that it contains primarily new characters and plotlines, I still don't want you to learn anything you'll be disappointed to have known before reading, later on.
Anyway, for those of you that have read The Forest of Hands and Teeth... I'm betting many of you are at least moderately interested in the sequel. I know I was. So, here's a brief, light synopsis for you of The Dead-Tossed Waves:
Gabry has a lived a quiet, safe life in the lighthouse with her mother Mary. Some of her friends talk about the Dark City and the world beyond the Barrier that keeps all the Mudo (or what her mother calls Unconsecrated) away from them, but Mary is fine staying just where she is. Sometimes she wonders if her mother's strength and thirst for more that led her to Vista, the settlement they live in, will ever appear within her - but she doesn't mind remaining as is.
But the consequences of the Return are difficult to keep away, and its not long before Gabry's life is crumbling around her, the Infection stubborn in its need to spread, to turn those she's known her whole life.
And before she knows it, Gabry finds out the truths she has always known to be solid about her mother are veiled in secrets and lies and a past she still holds on to. This is all leads to Gabry stepping beyond that Barrier into danger and seeing what else lies beyond, and whether or not she can find herself somewhere out there.
Okay. So, again, this isn't really a continuation of Mary's story so much as a new story about her daughter Gabry. I have to admit that this disappointed me from the get-go. I was bewitched by Mary, her strong, if flawed, personality was perfect for going on a terrifying adventure like this with, to try to figure out what happened years before when the Return occurred, and find hope. Gabry felt like an unnecessary protagonist that was instantly much weaker than Mary and less interesting. However, these were first impressions and I tried to set them aside and read it with an open mind. After all, The Forest of Hands and Teeth blew my mind page after page.
When I first saw Gabry's full name (maybe you'll guess it, but I want to leave it up to you to find out yourself), I was nearly brought to tears - bringing to mind again the power of Mary's journey and the story of the first book. It was certainly interesting to take a look into other communities after the Return, still living a fragile existence that feels less sheltered than Mary's - but of course still dangerous. It's a different perspective and a different way of life. It's tense, but not as flat-out scary and shocking as The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Even the opening chapter's action didn't feel as shiver-inducing as anything from the first book.
One of my biggest problems with The Dead-Tossed Waves was that even as I continued to read and tried to become enamored with Gabry and her journey, I just still kept wanting more Mary and more follow-up to what happened with her once she reached the ocean.
But at last we meet one character that held some intrigue: Elias, from beyond the Barrier. It does bring some development of mythology when it comes to him, and he holds a mysteriousness that is a welcome change to the, I'm sad to say, rather flat characters in Vista. Nothing is as provocative and absorbing as the Sisterhood, the Guardians, and the Unconsecrated.
At its best moments The Dead-Tossed Waves was surprising and tentative, more philosophical than The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and some of the romance can even be described as lovely and gentle in the midst of degradation and despair. Yet, I never felt strongly for these characters, and I felt like the novel was overlong - as though, despite it being 100 pages longer than The Forest of Hands and Teeth, less happened. It was strange, and it kind of puzzled me. I feel really bad saying anything negative, because I thought The Forest of Hands and Teeth was phenomenal - but The Dead-Tossed Waves never became as gripping and it stubbornly stayed slower-paced, in my opinion.
I was even kind of shocked to find that I didn't feel it was nearly as well-written as The Forest of Hands and Teeth, having a stunning amount of repeated sentences and words.
Now, don't get me wrong. The Dead-Tossed Waves in no way a terrible novel, and I still encourage you to read it and find out for yourself what you think - because looking at some Amazon.com reviews there are people who think it is amazing and way better than The Forest of Hands and Teeth! So, ya know, this is only my opinion - I don't want to dissuade you from forming your own opinion at all!!!
But in order to uphold to the promise to myself that I would always be honest on this blog and to my beloved, and slowly but surely growing, group of readers - I have to let you know I was, in the end, disappointed and a bit bored. There were a couple of promising moments, one involving the facing of what we learn is called a Horde that was quite chilling, and some of the lyrical beauty of Carrie Ryan's language spilled over to the recognition of Gabry's insecurity, but it was few and far between, and sometimes the encouraging of our main character even became, I have to say it, annoying. And I was really, really surprised by this. I still want to read the next book, The Dark and Hollow Places, but my expectations aren't as high, and I still wish that I'd been given the opportunity to follow Mary's story. But, oh well. We don't always get what we want, right?
If you get a chance to read The Dead-Tossed Waves, or have already, I'd love for you to comment on this post and tell me your opinion! I'm really curious about all your different, wonderful points-of-view! ;)