Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Dead Tossed Waves: A Review

The Dead Tossed Waves
Written by: Carrie Ryan
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Language: English
March 2010
Genre: YA Fiction/Series/Zombies

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves. +++++++++++++

Do you like your characters perfect? Perhaps with as few flaws as possible? Do they need to be completely relatable? Can you like flawed characters? Maybe you prefer them. I know I do. But why? Why do I like the beautifully damaged characters, the ones that make poor decisions and act selfishly when they should be acting selflessly? It just makes for a better storytelling experience I guess.

I think there is always one character you love to hate. They may not be relatable in all ways (early Cordelia from BtVS), but you love to hate them. In fact it would kind of suck if they weren’t part of the story. But what happens when that character is your lead? Is there a fine line between love to hate and hate so much that you want to put the book down? Yes. Where is that line for you?

This is why I like Carrie Ryan’s characters…they’re flawed. Just as all teenage girls are. Just as I was. Just as we all were. We were selfish, we were insecure, we were cruel, we were lost, we were fickle, we loved completely, we questioned everything especially our place in the world and we made a lot of bad decisions (Oh boy did we ever, but hey that’s why it is called growing up and learning). I am a pretty normal well-adjusted woman, but I still made mistakes when I was a kid. And sometimes I wouldn’t have wanted to be my friend and I am a nice girl. Maybe having a flawed character makes me like them because I can say, ‘hey, been there, done that’. For me Gabry, just as Mary was in The Forest of Hands and Teeth, seems real. Of course I want to slap her or shake her sometimes, but I get it. More importantly, I watched her grow as a character.

The Dead Tossed Waves continues years after the events from The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Mary made it to the ocean she dreamed about for so long, finding refuge in the lighthouse of the small seaside town of Vista. But this is not Mary’s story. It is her daughter Gabry’s (Gabrielle) story and her journey. And Gabry is quite different from her mother. Where Mary had been brave and wanted nothing more than to see what was beyond the walls of her Village in the Forest, Gabry has no desire to venture outside where the Mudo (Unconsecrated) exist. When her best friend Cira invites her to go to the abandoned amusement park with her older brother Catcher, whom Gabry has liked for a long time, she reluctantly goes along. The park is beyond the protection of the town. It is only Catcher’s persistence and promise to protect her that finally gets Gabry to do what she fears most: leave the safety of the walls of Vista.

This wouldn’t be a book if something didn’t go wrong and does it ever. A first kiss with Catcher becomes a nightmare when a Breaker (similar to the one who gave Gabry her namesake in The Forest of Hands and Teeth) attacks the group. Catcher gets bit, friends return as Mudo and Gabry flees. This is a decision that will haunt her throughout the book and force her to leave what she knows and into a place that she fears.

Forced to find Catcher, to either save him or say goodbye, Gabry leaves the lighthouse behind and meets a young man named Elias. From here everything will change: her view of the world, of her own life, of her mother’s, and even what she thought was her ‘safe’ home.

Things I loved: I really enjoyed some of the broader world building such as why Breakers are the way they are, how other parts of the world dealt with the ‘Return’. Of course I also enjoyed seeing where Mary ended up. One of the things I really enjoyed was the Recruiters and how important Catcher was to them. If he can walk amongst the Mudo, control them to some extent or be a one man killing machine without being harmed, why wouldn’t they want him. Curious how they would fully control him though. Maybe that is what we will get in the next book.

I also enjoyed the Soulers. When the zombie apocalypse happens everyone is going to act differently. Everyone is going to see the zombies as something different and how to deal with them differently. I think one of the great things that Ryan did was explain why the Soulers did some of the things that they did. They weren’t just a one dimensional cult.

The prose is eloquent. The pacing a bit slow at the beginning, but then it builds. If it helps as soon as I was done reading this one, I went and bought the last one for my Kindle and began reading it. Alas work calls. It always does.

Things I didn’t love so much: the love triangle. Once again we have the trope of the love triangle and I expect more from Ryan. She did the love triangle bit in The Forest of Hands and Teeth and here it is again. Yawn. Even if it does provide growth for a character. This takes me out of the story which is sad because the flawed characters immerse me in it. But where the hell was my love triangle when I was 16. Oh yeah I didn’t have one. I also didn’t grow up in a world of zombies.

I just think it is something that too many authors rely on when it comes to romance. Sure given the choice between David Tennant’s 10th Doctor or Nathan Fillion’s Mal I would have difficulties. The triangle is getting as tired as the snarky heroine…oh wait who has to choose between the vampire or the werewolf…see…bored now. Plus I always choose the one that the author doesn’t simply because we have different tastes in men.

And yet, I dug the tension between Catcher and Gabry as well as the tension between Gabry and Elias. As much as I like Catcher, I also understand what he represented in the story or at least what he represented for me. He was the HEA and when you live in a world of zombies you don’t get Happily Ever After. But he also represented a past and a safety that was no longer there. He was Gabry’s childhood and by the end of Waves she is leaving that childhood behind. She is no longer the woman she used to be and for many different reasons.

It bugged me a bit how back and forth she was between Catcher and Elias. I understand parts of it though, wanting to go back to HEA where none of this had happened, where life just continued in the blind safety of Vista. I feel for Catcher, I really do. Some may hate the almost kisses, but they worked for me. Ryan had the tension and the restraint and the hunger down pat. Catcher wants HEA too, but he knows he can’t have that idealistic daydream anymore. He’s worried that he will infect and he has enough guilt already weighing him down.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. If you liked The Forest of Hands and Teeth, this is a good addition

Part of: Series
Book One: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Book Two: The Dead Tossed Waves
Book Three: The Dark and Hollow Places

Also Recommended: Other great zombie fiction includes Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry, The Walking Dead comic series by Robert Kirkman, Patient Zero also by Maberry. The Passage by Justin Cronin, Feed by Mira Grant, and World War Z by Max Brooks

3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

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