Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review: The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 22nd, 2011

Where do I even start with this one?

Let's just get the cover over with.  I love it.  I love all the covers in this series.  I think they are stunning.  I am total cover whore and I always buy books with a beautiful covers, sometimes without even reading the synopsis.  I've only gotten burned a few times... Anyway, I think this cover is beautiful and I would have bought this even if I hadn't read the 1st two books.

Now that that is over, I guess I can start by telling you that I absolutely adore Carrie Ryan. My husband calls her my "procrastimentor" because I pretty religiously read her blog, Carrie's Procrastinatory Outlet (the fact that my husband even knows who she is should be a testament to my adoration- he's not a big fiction reader, and certainly not YA fiction). She's also one of the few people on Twitter that I get SMS notification of their tweets. That means I actually care about what she has to say. Plus, I'm always happy to find authors that hail from the South (which is funny because although I've been living in the South for 15 years, I'm originally from NY). The fact that I'm an author-stalker aside, I love her writing. When I found out that she wrote The Forest of Hands and Teeth during NaNoWriMo, I was blown away! I mean, most novels written during that annual event are, quite frankly, horrible. Obviously, her attempt at it was hugely successful, and you know why? Because her writing is beautiful. That's why. Now, let's get to my review...

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters. 
Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again. 
But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

I guess it should be known right off the bat that I loved the first two books in this trilogy. The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves are two of my favorite books.  EVER. I had really, REALLY high hopes for this book. It did NOT disappoint. In fact, this is my favorite one yet.

For starters, this book brings everything from the first two books together. Although we don't see Mary at all in this book, she's definitely present in Gabry, her "daughter". Many characters from the previous books are referred to, and Vista, Mary and Gabry's former village, plays in integral part in the story despite the fact that it does not take place there. I liked that there were a good many solid answers and resolved issues.

As for writing... This book was so masterfully written, just like it's predecessors. The language Carrie Ryan uses is part of what makes these books so beautiful. She writes in a way that takes you into the story so that you feel the same joy and gut-wrenching pain that the characters feel. At several points in the book I would look down and realize that I was gripping the book so tightly that my knuckles were turning white, or I would wonder later why my jaw was sore, and realize that it was because I had been grinding my teeth while I was reading...

As for the story itself.? I thought it was outstanding! I thought The Dead-Tossed Waves was better than The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and I was wondering if Carrie Ryan would be able to top it. Did she ever! Annah, the main character, was the type that have you going through 2/3 of the book not knowing it you like her or hate her. A few times I got annoyed with her self-pity, but then I would look at what her life had been like, and realize that she was entitled to it. Her circumstances were ridiculously difficult and she handled them in such a competent way, you can't help but admire her. In the end, she became one of my favorite characters in the entire series. As far as the other characters in the book, I found that my feelings kind of waffled a bit.  By the end of the book I was most annoyed with Gabry, who I liked a lot in The Dead-Tossed Waves. I was glad to have Catcher back as a huge part of the story.  I liked him in the last book, and like him even better now.  As for Elias, I could have taken him or left him. He is the only character I have never formed a connection with. There were a few other key characters that I didn't necessarily like, but had a very important part in the story. They were written so well, and I wish I could say more, but I don't want to spoil anything...

All in all, I loved this book. LOVED it! I think it was the best of the three and I'm sad that the trilogy is over . I'm thrilled to know that that Carrie Ryan has done an eBook of the short-story prequel to the trilogy called Hare Moon. I only only hope she'll do more of them.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Grade Level Recommendation: I think this series is fine for mature 5th grade and up. There is no sex, drinking/drugs, or language. There is a decent amount of violence, but nothing new to average kids of this age. There is romance, some of it intense, but not in a sexual way.


  1. I only read the first book in this series. It was a little too far out there for me. But I will agree with you on the writing. I still remember things vividly because of Ryan's description.

  2. Okay, I've been dying to read this book ever since I read The Dead Tossed Waves last year and I just haven't been able to get my hands on it. I didn't want to know any details of the book, so I didn't read the full review, but I'm so glad you gave it a high rating. I haven't seen a ton of reviews for this book so it was nice to hear from someone who has read it. I wasn't the hugest fan of The Forest of Hands and Teeth because Mary drove me nuts, but The Dead Tossed Waves was AWESOME!

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile
    For the Love of Reading


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