Author: Carrie Ryan
Genre: Science Fiction YA
First Published: 2010
Page Count: 404
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Note: Book 2 of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series
This may be the second book in the series, but the adventure and the main character are a fresh look at an exciting and familiar world.
*Refreshing, unconventional sequel *Lots of unexpected action
*Secondary characters were rude, selfish, and annoying
“They ripple and swell, the bodies of the Mudo, like the ocean. Like the dead-tossed waves.” Gabrielle and her mother have inhabited the safe coastal town of Vista since she can remember. Surrounded by a fortified barrier that was built after the Return, the time when humans began to get infected by a virus that kills them and turns them into zombies or Mudo that try to infect the living, Gabrielle knows nothing about the world beyond her town. She only knows that there is a place called the Dark City where the Protectorate and the Recruiters reside, the last remaining government and its enforcers. However, Gabrielle must venture past the safety of these walls with the aid of a mysterious stranger when she becomes concerned about the well-being of the ones she loves.
It’s been awhile since I read the first book of this series, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. When there is a big time-lapse between books in a series, like most of us out there, I worry that I’ll be able to remember the characters or even where the story left off. Fear not! This book is no ordinary sequel. The story takes place in a whole new setting, with a flurry of new characters, and a new main character. This was fantastic because the reader gets to see a whole new side of this world Ryan has created, and if you remember my review of the previous book, this is exactly what I was looking for out of the next book. These new characters also bring about a new story and new problems unique to their society in Vista. It makes it practically a fool-proof formula for a sequel because the reader won’t feel bored following the same characters and they get to read a fresh story. However, the original main character, the original setting, and some other surprises from the first book do intertwine, very well I might add, with the new plot in book two. Aside from the fact that there is plenty of page turning action throughout the book, what made me love this book was that the author found a smart way to branch out into a new story while still incorporating elements from the past book. Very cleverly done Carrie Ryan.
My one fault with the book is one that plagued me with the previous book: annoying characters. At least this time around it wasn’t the main character I found annoying. This time it was the secondary characters. Somehow, choices that these characters independently made, even sometimes with Gabrielle’s advice against such decisions, would become Gabrielle’s fault. They would selfishly blame her for their troubles and irresponsibility. At the same time, Gabrielle seemed to lack the basic will to stand up for herself when what she was being blamed for was clearly wrong. If she is brave enough to stand up against the Mudo during different events in the story, why is she unable to stand up against a couple of prissy teen girls or an unwanted admirer? This is a young adult novel and these books are supposed to relate to the age group they are written for, so maybe the author was just trying to reflect the feeling of exclusion and senseless bullying that can occur at that age. Maybe I’m a little out of touch with that feeling since I haven’t been a teen for a couple of years?
All in all, this is a great sequel that possibly surpasses the first book, but it’s difficult for me to really make a judgement on that point when I can barely remember the first. I love zombie apocalypse type books and I don’t care how many cheesy teen love triangles I have to traverse through in order to discover a new story. And, by the way, as far as the overdone love triangle plot goes, in this particular book it’s not that devoid of feeling or creativity as some are. It’s satisfactory. Anyway, I’ll read ’em all just to see how each author approaches that story idea. Ryan’s series is unique enough to stand out with the way she has created her world and I’ve heard whispers of a movie adaptation. That’s motivation enough just to take a peek at what this series has to offer.